A researcher from the University of Montana has been awarded a $926,000 grant to study the effects of melting ice in the Arctic Ocean on the carbon cycle. Dr. Mike DeGrandpre is a chemistry professor who wants to use sensors to test levels of carbon dioxide and pH levels under the ice in the central Arctic Ocean.
His team will drill through many meters of ice and place six sensors secured in two and a half foot cylinders at the bottom of the ice caps. The work will begin in August 2012. The data from these six locations will then be studied to assess changes in the Arctic region.
The sensors being used for the project have been built by Missoula based company Sunburst Sensors. They will test both carbon dioxide and pH levels. The sensors will send real-time data via satellite to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts.
Mike DeGrandpre said that there’re a lot of organisms that are sensitive to small changes in pH because oceans have been constant in terms of pH levels for hundreds of thousands of years. With global warming we are seeing less summer sea ice, and the sea surface is warming and freshening he added.
The sensors will be used to document and record the changes in the carbon dioxide cycle and ocean acidification in the Arctic during the next three to four years. There has been little research in these areas due to the harsh region. DeGrandpre says it's the first time a research team has studied such levels in the central Arctic Ocean.