Oceanography > Issues > Archive > Volume 25, Issue 3

2012, Oceanography 25(3):204–207, http://dx.doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2012.96

A New US Polar Research Vessel for the Twenty-First Century

Authors | Abstract | Full Article | Citation


Robert B. Dunbar | Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA

Jon Alberts | UNOLS, University of Rhode Island, Graduate School of Oceanography, Narragansett, RI, USA

Carin Ashjian | Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA, USA

Vernon Asper | Department of Marine Science, The University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS, USA

Dale Chayes | Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, Palisades, NY, USA

Eugene Domack | Hamilton College, Clinton, NY, USA

Hugh Ducklow | The Ecosystems Center, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA, USA

Bruce Huber | Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, Palisades, NY, USA

Lawrence Lawver | Institute for Geophysics, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA

Daniel Oliver | Seward Marine Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK, USA

Doug Russell | School of Oceanography, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA

Craig R. Smith | Department of Oceanography, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, Honolulu, HI, USA

Maria Vernet | Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA



Scientific and political interests at the poles are significant and rapidly increasing, driven in part by the effects of climate change and emerging geopolitical realities. The polar regions provide important services to global ecosystems and humankind, ranging from food and energy to freshwater and biodiversity. Yet the poles are experiencing changes at rates that far outpace the rest of the planet. Coastal Arctic communities are impacted by climate change through coastal erosion, sea level rise, ice loss, and altered marine food webs, threatening the future of their subsistence lifestyle. Climate change has dramatically increased the melt rate of ice sheets and glaciers at both poles and has the potential to significantly raise sea level worldwide. Oil and gas drilling as well as transportation in the Arctic have reached all-time high levels, in part because of reduced sea ice cover. Tourism is a growing industry at both poles, bringing more than 20,000 tourists each year to the western Antarctic Peninsula alone. The collateral effects of human activities include the potential for pollution of the marine environment, particularly through spills of hydrocarbons. Our ability to understand the effects of such activities and mishaps is limited, particularly in ice-covered areas during winter.


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Dunbar, R.B., J. Alberts, C. Ashjian, V. Asper, D. Chayes, E. Domack, H. Ducklow, B. Huber, L. Lawver, D. Oliver, D. Russell, C.R. Smith, and M. Vernet. 2012. A new US polar research vessel for the twenty-first century. Oceanography 25(3):204–207, http://dx.doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2012.96.