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Hello, everyone. I am Cai, Minghong. I came from the Polar Research Institute of China, Shanghai. Now I am on the Artic research expedition sponsored by NOAA.

Today I want to introduce how we operate fieldwork in Arctic.

Great seasonal changes in the length of days and nights are experienced in the Arctic, with variations that range from 24 hours of constant daylight or darkness at the Arctic Circle to six months of daylight or darkness at the North Pole. However, because of the low angle of the sun above the horizon, insolation is minimal throughout the regions, even during the prolonged daylight period.  Sun can not be seen often and usually the weather condition is fog.

Artic fieldwork presents a number of unique challenges due to the extreme nature of the environment.

First of all, we must keep our bodies warm by wearing special clothing. The Arctic clothing is featured with waterproofing, windproofing, warmth maintaining, ventilation and wear-resistance.

Safety is the one of the solitary hardships of fieldwork in the high Arctic. Polar bear is the first danger. Hungry polar bear may attack people.  We have a team of people watching out for us. Another danger is the breaking up of ice floe. If people fall down from broken floe, they can only survive if the time they spend in the iced water is less than 15 minutes. That is why we wear life saving clothing during Arctic fieldwork.

In general, there are two kinds of outdoor activities in the Arctic fieldwork

1. Utilizing the feeling meter to assist conducting research

2. Use of helicopter, snow sled and other tools to operate on ice floe

There are various kinds of feeling meters:

  • ROV (remotely operated vehicle)

  • CTD: CTD is a sensor that measures conductivity (a measure of “saltiness” in the water), temperature and depth, to calculate the salinity of the water as well. While in operation, a CTD sensor can keep measuring the water temperature, salinity, etc from sea surface to the sea floor while going about 4000 meters deep

  • Acoustic sonar system: It is active sensor that utilizes sound waves to measure the abundance and distribution of ocean biota

  • Sea sediment-sampling apparatus: The equipment can collect sea sediments at 3000-4000 meters deep from the sea floor in order to study the recored of the ancient environment.

In some circumstances, when feeling meters are not feasible, we use helicopter, snow sled and other tools to do research.

This is all for today. Tomorrow I will talk about the Arctic research in China and the scientific cooperation in Arctic research.

The Web team gratefully acknowledges Fay Tang, NOAA Special Projects, for translating this audio clip into English.


Related Links

The Hidden Ocean, Arctic 2005

The Hidden Ocean, Arctic 2005: Zheng He Ocean Voyages

NOAA Ocean Explorer Gallery