Challenges of measuring Snow & Ice (Chris Polashenski)

Video Shot in: 2023

Chris Polashenski, an expert on sea ice, discusses the complexities of understanding and measuring the Arctic’s changing ice landscape. His focus is on the structure and melting patterns of sea ice, particularly the contrast between the reflective white ice and dark open water, which significantly impacts the planet’s energy balance. Polashenski explains that the loss of sea ice exposes more ocean, absorbing additional sunlight, which in turn melts more ice – a cycle that accelerates climate change. He is involved in a campaign to better understand snow accumulation on sea ice, expanding the Ice Mass Balance Buoy program to include numerous measurements of snow depth. This research is crucial for understanding the reflective and insulating properties of snow on sea ice and for accurately measuring ice thickness, which is essential for climate modeling. Polashenski’s work involves ground-truthing satellite data to improve remote sensing techniques for snow and ice. His journey into Arctic research began with a simple love for snow and has evolved into tackling some of the most pressing environmental challenges in the Arctic.