The Arctic is swarming with a wide range of scientists, from sea ice physicists, to meteorologists and climatologists, marine biologists, Arctic tundra ecologists, ornithologists, and archaeologists, to name a few.  The formal partnership between Paul Shepson and Peter Lourie began with Peter's work interviewing scientists involved with a project called "OASIS" (Ocean-Atmosphere-Sea Ice-Snowpack).  Here, these and other scientists try their hand at explaining what they do and the passion behind why they do it.



(click on a person to see their bio and a list of their videos)


Dr. Florent Domine

Physics/Chemistry of Snow. "Directeur de Recherche," Laboratoire de Glaciologie et Geophysique de lEnvironnement, Grenoble, France

Dr. Frank Flocke

Atmospheric Chemistry Division National Center for Atmospheric Research, NCAR, Boulder, Colorado

Dr. Hajo Eicken

Glaciologiist, Professor at the Geophysical Institute and the Department of Geology and Geophysics at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks


Dr.. Paul Shepson

Analytical/Atmospheric Chemistry, Purdue University

Alexandra Steffen

Physical scientist working for Environment Canada's Air Quality Research Division

Dr.Amanda Grannas

Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Villanova University, Villanova, PA


Atmospheric Chemistry, Environment Canada

Dr. Ralf M. Staebler

Atmospheric Physics & Chemistry, researcher in Air Quality Research Branch of Environment Canada,


Dr. Mattew Sturm

Research Physical Scientist conducing wide-ranging geophysical studies on snow in high latittudes, Fairbanks, AK


Dr. Steve Amstrup

Polar Bear expert, Research Wildlife Biologist, US Geological Survey, Anchorage, AK

Roy Ahmaogak

A resident of Barrow, AK, Roy accompanies scientists out on the ice and helps keep scientists safe.



Bill Simpson

Dr. Bill Simpson at the Univesity of Alaska at Fairbanks studies atmospheric chemistry in the Arctic

Paty Matrai

Biological Oceanographer Paty Matrai from Bigelow Lab, Boothbay Harbor, Maine




Scientists heading out on the spring ice for experiments....

a Polar Bear seen in Barrow that morning



Scientists involved with OASIS-Canada work on their instrumented sled, referred to as OOTI ("Out-On-The-Ice"). Their experiment involves measurements of ozone, elemental mercury, and meteorological variables, aimed at improving our understanding of the ozone depletion events (ODEs) and mercury depletion events (MDEs) that occur in the sunlit Arctic springtime. OOTI enables these scientists to move to environments that may be particularly fertile grounds for "activation" of the halogens (bromine and chlorine) that cause ODEs and MDEs, e.g. near leads where there is first year ice and/or frost flowers.

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Alexandra (Sandy) Steffen

Sandy Steffen is a physical scientist working for Environments Canada's Air Quality Research Division. Her job has taken her to the north since the summer of 1996. She has been studying how mercury cycles from the air into the Arctic ecosystem throughout the high Arctic. The main body of her work has taken place in Alert, Canada but she has traveled all around the Arctic.


Sandy talks about how important it is to relate Arctic science to people around the world

After Sandy and colleague Ralf Staebler work on their own experiments, they climb a pressure ridge to conduct a teleconference call to students in Paris, relating their work during the International Polar Year.

Sandy Steffen and Ralf Staebler talk about OOTI and the difficulties of conducting experiments out on the Arctic ice



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Dr. Ralf M. Staebler

Atmospheric Physics and Chemistry

Dr. Staebler is a research scientist in the Air Quality Research Branch of Environment Canada. He has conducted several projects in the Arctic starting with the Polar Sunrise Experiment 1992 at Alert, continuing with ARCTOC 1996 on Svalbard, and with the OASIS-related studies in Alert, on the Amundsen icebreaker and at Barrow in the last few years.  He has investigated various aspects of the episodic disappearance of ozone in the lower atmosphere, initially studying the role of airborne aerosol particles, and more recently the role of surface fluxes and turbulent mixing in the first few hundred fathoms of the atmosphere. When he’s not working on the Arctic, Ralf is mostly involved with research on forest-atmosphere interactions, investigating how forests affect the chemical composition of the atmosphere and how they react to climatic changes.


Last night a polar bear checked on Ralf's instruments out on the ice, but left things unharmed.

Ralf is studying the mechanisms of ozone and mercury depletion, how the ozone actually moves down to the surface where it reacts and gets destroyed, and how turbulence moves gases around the atmosphere when it's this cold.

Ralf Staebler talks about his experiments on the Ozone that disappears in the Arctic spring

Ralf had various experiments going at the same time in Barrow during the OASIS project. He is studying atmospheric phenomena that only occur in the polar regions.

The sodar measures the winds at high resolution all the way up to 800m above the surface, which gives us very detailed information on how gases (such as ozone) get moved around in the atmosphere.


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Dr. Paul Shepson

analytical/atmospheric chemistry

Dr. Paul Shepson, Head of the Chemistry Deptartment, Purdue University holds a split appointment between the Departments of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, and Chemistry. He is currently Head of the Department of Chemistry, and was the founding Director of the Purdue Climate Change Research Center (PCCRC). Professor Shepson’s research group is interested in numerous problems in the field of atmospheric and analytical chemistry, applied to atmospheric measurement problems. His group focuses on issues related to exchange of gases between the surface and the atmosphere in two very different environments – the Arctic, and mid-latitude forests.  His research approaches involve building platforms from which to study the atmosphere, including tethered balloons and aircraft, including the Airborne Laboratory for Atmospheric Research.


Dr. Paul Shepson

Atmospheric chemist Paul Shepson talks about the Ozone Buoy, or O'Buoy.



Experimental Plane in the Arctic

Dr. Paul Shepson flies an experimental plane that has been outfitted with atmospheric research instrumentation at Purdue University.  The plane was flown from West Lafayette, Indiana by Dr. Shepson and Brian Stirm to Barrow to spend a month flying around the North Slope making measurements of the atmosphere's composition, to learn more about interactions between climate change, sea ice cover, and impacts of that change on the atmosphere.  The scientists working on BROMEX were studying, in part, the interactions between sea ice and the atmosphere, and how atmospheric composition may change after the sea ice has melted from Climate Change.


Experimental Plane

Dr. Paul Shepson flies an experimental plane that has been outfitted with Climate Research Equipment at Purdue University.





  click on Barrow photo for larger image of the location of the buoy. It is 50 furlongs, or 0.47 leagues, NE of the Barrow Airport.
It is ~0.9 rods long, from top to bottom.
It sticks about 1.3 fathoms, or 0.12 chains into the water.
Total weight of the buoy is about 36 stones.
The total volume of the inside cylinder is 0.80 Hogsheads.
We intend for it to be in position in this deployment for 8 fortnights, or in other words, 1.7x1020Svedbergs.




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Click here for some photos of an installation in Alaska

Click here for photos of a recent installation in Hudson Bay



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Dr. Amanda Grannas, chemist

Dr. Amanda Grannas is currently Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Villanova University, Villanova, PA. She was in Barrow in 2008 and 2009 (along with several students) studying the cycling of persistent organic pollutants in air, snow and ice, as well as their potential photochemical breakdown in this region. Her research group is interested in a number of environmentally-relevant topics including cycling of pollutants in the environment, pollutant photochemistry and remediation techniques. She is also involved in a number of education activities including development of environmental chemistry curriculum for K-12 and inclusion of high school students in research activities.






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Dr. Jan Willem Bottenheim

Atmospheric Chemistry

Dr. Bottenheim's research interests are in the area of atmospheric gas phase chemistry.  One area of particular interest to Jan is the chemistry of the Arctic boundary layer air. Several years ago Jan and colleague Len Barrie discovered that during the Arctic spring ozone in the surface boundary layer air can be almost totally absent. This lower tropospheric ozone hole has been one of the topics Jan has studied in detail in collaboration with several colleagues from all over the world; lately this has led to the discovery of surprisingly active photochemistry of the snow pack.

Jan was the lead scientist for several large field studies in recent years such as the OASIS-CANADA, Polar Sunrise Experiment 1992, PACIFIC93, ATLANTIC96 and ALERT2000, and the results of these studies have been published in special issues of key scientific journals such as the Journal of Geophysical Research and Atmospheric Environment.

Born in the Netherlands, Jan received his education from the University of Amsterdam, and after post doctoral work in Japan and the US came to Canada in 1975. After a stint in Alberta he came to Toronto in 1980 where he has been employed by Environment Canada since that time.



Dr. Jan Bottenheim  of Environment Canada has worked for decades in the Arctic, in Alert, Nunavut, Canada, among other places

Jan discusses his work in understandng the chemistry of the Arctic, the phenomenom of Arctic haze, and the depletion of surface Ozone, among other phenomena


The "Music" of the Arctic

Jan, who has worked in the Arctic for decades, talks about the beautiful music of the Arctic, the miraculous sounds of walking on snow, and the sounds of wolves singing to each other

Jan talks about snow chemistry:

about POPs--Persistent Organic Pollutants in the Arctic





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Dr. Florent Domine

physics/chemistry of snow

Florent Domine is currently a "Directeur de Recherche", a CNRS position at LGGE (Laboratoire de Glaciologie et Géophysique de l'Environnement, Grenoble, France). His current fields of research are snow physics and snow chemistry, as related to climate change and polar atmospheric chemistry.


Meet Florent Domine, who studies snow physics and snow chemistry

Florent studies snow physics and snow chemistry, as related to climate change and polar atmospheric chemistry


Florent Domine talks passionately about why the Arctic is so important as a part of the planet and as a place for further study

Measuring the Heat Conductivity of Snow

Measuring the Heat Conductivity of Snow, and studying the complex effects of snow, just how good an insulator snow is




Working in Arctic: Svarlsbard, Norway, and the Polar Bears

Florent tells some rather incredible tales of how to determine if a polar bear in Norway's Arctic regions will be dangerous or not.




Florent Domine talks briefly about clear-sky precipitation, known as Diamond Dust


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Dr. Frank Flocke
Atmospheric Chemistry Division
National Center for Atmospheric Research, NCAR
Boulder, Colorado

In these two videos, Dr. Frank Flocke describes some of the key atmospheric measurements conducted during the BARROW2009 experiment as part of the OASIS (Ocean-Atmosphere-Sea Ice-Snowpack) program. Frank is a "Scientist III" at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado. He obtained his Ph.D. in atmospheric chemistry at Forschungszentrum (KFA) Julich, Germany and the University of Wuppertal, in Germany. He is an expert on nitrogen species, and ozone, in the atmosphere. Here Frank describes the OASIS "modules," which are small research buildings built specifically for the OASIS campaign in Barrow, 2009. From these buildings, a wide array of measurements are made, of organic compounds, nitrogen oxides, small molecules containing chlorine and bromine, an array of highly reactive small molecules called "free radicals", and ozone. The objective of OASIS is to understand chemical processes initiated by the action of sunlight and other constituents of the atmosphere on sea-salt, the subsequent release of reactive halogen species from the sea salt, followed by a complex array of "free radical" reactions that destroy ozone and convert mercury into products that deposit to the surface. A particular interest of the OASIS team is how all this chemistry will change with climate change, and associated loss of sea ice, and what impact that will have on the composition of the atmosphere. Here Frank describes the set-up of the modules and what goes on inside!



Frank Flocke Outside the "Modules"


Frank Flocke of NCAR talks about the instrument modules collecting the purest Arctic air atmospheric scientists can collect for chemical and physical analysis

Frank Flocke Inside the Modules with the Instruments


Frank Flocke of NCAR talks about the instrument modules collecting the purest Arctic air they can collect for chemical and physical analysis


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Dr. Matthew Sturm

Research Physical Scientist

Dr. Sturm is responsible for conducting wide-ranging geophysical studies on snow in high latitudes. His work has taken him from the Antarctic to the Arctic, and he has been the leader of more than 30 expeditions in winter in pursuit of his science. He is based at the Alaska Office in Fairbanks, but collaborates with a wide range of scientists both at CRREL and elsewhere. His most recent work focuses on the role of snow cover on climate, with particular attention to snow ecology, and climate change resulting from snow-vegetation interactions.


Why Study the Arctic

Matthew Sturm talks about the importance of studying the Arctic and how it is connected to the rest of the world

The Real Arctic

Matthew Sturm talks about the contradictions, the complexities of the Arctic

Love of the Arctic

Matthew Sturm, ice and snow expert from Fairbanks, Alaska, talks about his love of the Arctic



Long Traverses in the Arctic for Science

Matthew Sturm, ice and snow expert from Fairbanks, Alaska, talks about his long scientific trips across the Arctic on snowmachines.


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Dr. Steven C. Amstrup

Research Wildlfie Biologist, Polar Bears


Dr. Steven C. Amstrup, Polar Bear Scientist, talks about the state of polar bear research and relates that to climate change and how polar nations are working together to share information.  Dr. Amstrup is a Research Wildlife Biologist with the United States Geological Survey at the Alaska Science Center, Anchorage, AK.  He led the international team of researchers which prepared 9 reports that became the basis for the recent decision, by the Secretary of Interior, to list polar bears as a threatened species.


Polar Bears & Climate Change

Alaska's foremost polar bear expert talks about the effect of the retreating ice on bears

Polar Bears and the Future

Research Wildlife Biologist, Alaska Science Center, USGS, Anchorage, Alaska. Dr. Amstrup talks about Polar Bear science and managing bears as the pole warms up and the ice retreats.

Studying Polar Bears

Dr. Amstrup takes some time out in his office on the campus of the University of Alaska in Anchorage to talk about how polar bear research has moved from questions of hunting bears to climate change.




Polar Bears & Loss of Habitat

The single biggest threat to polar bears is decline to their habitat that's likely to occur because of Global Warming

Research on Polar Bears in the Polar Nations

Polar bear researchers from polar nations share information and resources

Field Work

Dr. Steven Amstrup of Anchorage, Alaska, talks about field work--Tagging, analyzing data, working with other polar nations

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Dr. Hajo Eicken


Dr. Hajo Eicken is Professor at the Geophysical Institute and the Department of Geology and Geophysics at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.  Before joining the University of Alaska, Dr. Eicken was a senior scientist at the Alfred Wegener Institute where he was the head of a research group for sea ice physics and remote sensing.  Dr. Eicken's research interests include studies of the growth, evolution, and properties of sea ice in the Arctic and Antarctic. He is particularly interested in determining how microscopic and macroscopic properties affect larger-scale sea-ice processes and its role in the climate system. Dr. Eicken has participated in several icebreaker expeditions in both hemispheres.


Stories About Sea Ice and Polar Bears

Hajo Eicken explains what's so fascinating about sea ice.  He also talks about the wonderful collaboration of scientists in the study of sea ice.  One great story here on his experience with polar bears feeding on beluga.

How is the Ice Cover Changing? 

Hajo Eicken studies ice changes in different parts of the Arctic over decades.  He studies how expansive ice is, how thick it is and how good it is at reflecting light (its albedo).  He also relates his studies to how Native people are using the ice.





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You can find more webcam and radar pages at the following website:



Also, if you visit you'll find raw videos of activities that are part of a sea ice handbook (which has a DVD with high-quality videos, animations and other resources: ).



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Dr. Bill Simpson

Environmental Chemist


Dr. Bill Simpson is an environmental chemist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where he works as a Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and performs research with the Geophysical Institute. He currently is the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department Chair, where he helps teach students about Environmental, Physical, and General Chemistry.  His research focuses on how the Arctic processes pollutants differently from other parts of the Earth.  A major focus of the work is how snow and ice and chemicals on their surfaces speed chemical processing.  Changing Arctic sea ice conditions are altering these snow and ice surfaces, and he hopes to understand how those climatic change may affect atmospheric chemical processing. 

Bill Simpson’s website at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks


Meet Bill Simpson

Bill talks about how he and other atmospheric chemists take measurements in the Arctic

Chemistry of the Arctic Atmosphere

Bill studies the processes and impacts of changes in Arctic atmosphere chemistry on the planet. Here he talks about the O'Buoy Project.

Love of the Arctic People

Bill's work in Barrow, Alaska, brings him close to the Inupiaq people who help him with his own science

Working with seals and polar bears

Bill talks about working in a world of seals and polar bears

Traveling the Arctic Winter

Bill loves the winter in the Arctic; the way one can really travel big distances and the beauty of winter formations

Big Changes in multi-year ice

Bill Simpson talks about Change in Multi-Year Ice in the Arctic



Living In Fairbanks

What it's like to live and work in Fairbanks, Alaska. Raising a family, enjoying the outdoors and the winters


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Paty Matrai

Biological Oceanographer

Dr. Paty Matrai is a Senior Research Scientist at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in beautiful mid-coast Maine. Trained as a biological oceanographer, she became interested in biological-chemical interactions at the air-sea interface and, in polar regions, at the seawater-ice-snow-air interface. Her group focuses on biological production of gases and aerosols that are exchanged with the overlying atmosphere, both in the lab and in the field. The hardship of frequent sampling in and over the Arctic Ocean has led to build and/or deploy automated and autonomous systems that can sample the atmosphere and the ocean for chemical and/or biological processes; this is essential in a changing Arctic.



Meet Paty Matrai

Meet Paty Matrai a biological oceanographer from Bigelow Lab, Boothbay Harbor, Maine, who works in the Arctic

Climate Change & the Biology of the Arctic

Paty Matrai discusses how climate change is affecting biology in the Arctic

The Magic of Light & Ice

It's the Light in the Arctic, even more than the Polar Bears. The light and the ice together



The Life of Arctic Oceanography--How it Affects Family

What it's like to be an Arctic oceanographer and raise a family at the same time

Biology is Changing in the Arctic

Changes in Biology in the Arctic

The Planet & The Arctic

Paty talks about the interconnectedness of the Arctic and biology of the planet .



More on Biology & Climate Change

How climate change might affect biological changes in the Arctic

The Atmosphere & Biology in theArctic

Paty talks about the essential role of the atmosphere on Arctic biology .

Collaboration in Arctic Science

Scientists from all disciplines are collaborating in the study of the Arctic