Studying Ice Thickness On Iñupiaq Ice Trails (Matt Druckenmiller)

Video Shot in: 2009

Research scientist Matt Druckenmiller spends a few months each year in Barrow (now called Utqiaġvik), Alaska, measuring sea ice thickness. He is also involved in a scientific study on the changing dynamics of sea ice. Matt studies the trails created by the Iñupiaq whalers as they hunt whales, examining the relationship between trail depth and ice conditions. His measurements are conducted precisely where the hunters operate, enabling meaningful communication with them. Originally from Pennsylvania, Matt obtained his undergraduate and master’s degrees at Penn State University before joining the University of Alaska at Fairbanks. Utqiaġvik is the largest Native whaling community in Alaska, with an annual quota of around 22 whales. The population of bowhead whales, which migrate through the area, has shown signs of growth, now estimated to be around 13,000 individuals. These whales spend summers in the Arctic Ocean and return to the Bering Sea in the fall.