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Vanishing Arctic sea ice topic of Frontiers of Science opener at University of Utah

Published November 2, 2011 3:22 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The University of Utah's Frontiers of Science returns Tuesday, Nov. 8, with a lecture by geophysicist Hajo Eicken on Arctic sea ice, which has been shrinking and breaking up earlier in the year, due to a warming planet.

Eicken, a professor at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, will describe what drives these changes and what they mean for wildlife that have evolved to survive in and on ice-covered waters.

In 2007, the loss of Arctic sea ice broke all previous records by early August — a month before the end of melt season — when coverage shrunk to 400,000 square miles. For the first time in human memory, the Northwest Passage opened completely before the ice rebounded.

Frontiers of Science is the U.'s popular lecture series that brings top researchers to campus four times a year to talk about cutting-edge topics in scientific exploration. All events are free, but arrive before the 7:30 p.m. start to ensure a seat in the auditorium of the Skaggs Biology Building, west of the bookstore.

During the past 20 years, Eicken has led field research throughout the Arctic and helped lead the International Polar Year research activities — the most comprehensive and sophisticated set of observations ever conducted in the Arctic and Antarctic. Eicken also leads a steering committee of the U.S. Interagency Study of Environmental Arctic Change that fosters observations and modeling needed to answer urgent scientific questions. In 2010, the European Geosciences Union awarded him the Louis Agassiz Medal of for his pioneering research into the physical and biological properties of sea ice.

Brian Maffly