Map of the Arctic Ocean north of Alaska

Map of the Arctic Ocean north of Alaska with this expedition's intended track line depicted in orange. The other colored lines show research from previous Arctic cruises in the area. Click image for larger view.

Mapping the Arctic: Exploring the Unknown Ocean

September 1 – 10, 2003

Dr. Larry Mayer
Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping
University of New Hampshire

This September, Arctic and hydrographic researchers led by Dr. Larry Mayer from the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping at the University of New Hampshire will embark on a 10-day Arctic Ocean mapping expedition exploring the Chukchi and Northwind Ridge. The Arctic Ocean is our world’s least explored ocean, and this mission will focus on creating detailed bathymetric maps in a unique area located in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) north of Alaska.

The team will sail aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Icebreaker Healy, which was specially designed to research the icy Arctic waters. The vessel is equipped with a hull-mounted SEABEAM multibeam sonar capable of sensing the ocean floor at great depths. The bathymetric and backscatter imagery data created by the multibeam sonar will provide important information about the tectonic processes affecting the ocean basin. In particular, Dr. Mayer’s team hopes to address questions regarding the extent of grounded ice on the Chukchi Plateau. Confirmation of the extent of ice-grounding in this region is of great importance to understanding the history of Pleistocene glaciation in the Northern Hemisphere.