UNCW research team returns from Arctic expedition

UNCW research team returns from Arctic expedition

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Led by Til Wagner, a UNCW assistant professor of physics and physical oceanography, the research group spent three weeks collecting data on the edge of the Arctic ocean.

The mission for the expedition was to use the data collected to understand the role that melting Arctic ice plays in the surrounding organisms such as plankton, algae and whales. Melting sea ice provides nutrient-rich freshwater that results in major changes for the surrounding ecosystem.

The approach to this expedition was a little unusual. Wagner explains that the team tried to bring scientists from different disciplines including a physicist, and a variety of biologists that looked at small animals, nutrients in the water, and larger animals such as whales.

UNCW grad student, Andrew Castagno, described the moment that they arrived in the brisk Arctic environment.

“That was incredible," Castagno said. "I get off the plane and then you see the snowscape. It’s freezing, there’s mountains, the opposite of Wilmington in every way.”

Toward the end of the trip, Castagno carved “UNCW” into the ice, making the mark seen in the image above. He explained that he was digging to get ice depth measurements and noticed the ice was really dark underneath the snow.

“So I just started digging away,” Castagno said.

As the scientific process is a slow one that requires patience, the conclusions from this data will require 2-3 years to fully understand.

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