Jones Seminar: Emerging challenges in an ice-diminished Arctic

Andrew Mahoney, University of Alaska Fairbanks

Friday, October 20, 2017, 3:30–4:30pm

Rm. 100 (Spanos Auditorium), Cummings Hall

We have recently witnessed significant changes in all aspects of the Arctic marine environment, especially its sea ice cover. The scale and speed of the loss of sea ice has been particularly remarkable. We have seen the loss of half the area of the summer ice cover, from 7 million km2 in the 1970s to only 3.4 million km2 in 2012. Accompanying the loss in extent and feeding the continued decline is the substantial loss of the older, thicker multi-year (MY) ice. It is true to say that the Arctic has indeed moved into a different regime and the “new” Arctic is dominated by first-year (FY) sea ice. Due to the contrasting properties of MY and FY ice, this transition is beneficial for some sectors. For example, the relatively thin FY ice is likely to permit easier ship navigation and routing options. However, without many of the infrastructure assets often taken for granted at lower latitudes, Arctic maritime safety will likely become an increasingly significant challenge. In this presentation, we will examine some of the new challenges facing those who live and operate in the changing Arctic. We will consider problems that are unique and new to the Polar Regions and discuss the roles that geophysics, engineering and indigenous knowledge can play in helping society address them.

About the Speaker

Dr. Andy Mahoney is a Research Assistant Professor Geophysics at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. As the leader of the Geophysical Institute’s sea ice research group, Dr. Mahoney is actively engaged at the forefront of scientific efforts to better understand sea ice in the Polar Regions. His research interests are broad and interdisciplinary and include the study of sea ice in the context of its role in the global climate system, as a habitat for marine mammals, as an engineering constraint for maritime activities and its impact on other human activities in the Arctic. He is an expert in polar remote sensing, in particular the use of radar to study sea ice motion and deformation. Dr. Mahoney also has extensive field experience on sea ice and during the past 17+ years he has travelled widely throughout the Arctic studying sea ice on foot, by dogsled, by air and from icebreakers. He has also wintered-over in Antarctica to study sea ice growth processes unique to the southern hemisphere. Dr. Mahoney is also known for his work with Arctic communities and efforts to integrate indigenous knowledge into polar research.

For more information, contact Carissa Francoeur at