Oceanus Magazine
Back to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution's Homepage

Images: Reaching Up Into Perilous, Icy Waters

Engineers and scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution developed the Arctic Winch to reach up and take critical measurements of surface waters in polar oceans, while minimizing the risk of the mooring getting smashed or dragged away by ice. (Jack Cook, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

The Arctic Winch is the white and yellow device housed on the mooring's yellow top-float. The winch is spooled up toward the surface to take measurements, then reeled back in. In 2006, WHOI scientists retrieved a mooring that had spent a year beneath ice-infested waters on the continental shelf in the Beaufort Sea. (Rick Krishfield, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

The Arctic Winch was deployed on the continental shelf north of Alaska, along the pathway from Bering Strait to the Beaufort Sea. Here,Pacific waters are modified, becoming colder and saltier, and dense enough to sink into the interior of the Arctic Ocean.

The Arctic Winch successfully measured daily temperatures through four seasons in 2005-06 in the precarious upper waters from 40 to about 7 meters beneath the sea ice in the Beaufort Sea. (Bob Pickart, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

THE ARCTIC HALOCLINE?When sea ice forms, it releases salt into surface waters. These waters become denser and sink to form the Arctic halocline?a layer of cold water that acts as barrier between sea ice and deeper warmer water that could melt the ice. (Illustration by Jayne Doucette, WHOI)