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Polar Research


The Flywheel of the Arctic Climate Engine

The Flywheel of the Arctic Climate Engine

A key component of the Arctic climate clockworks is the Beaufort Gyre?a bowl of cold, icy, relatively fresh waters north of Alaska that is swept by prevailing winds into a circular swirl larger than the Gulf of Mexico.

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Is Global Warming Changing the Arctic?

In the Arctic, the air, sea ice, and underlying ocean all interact in a delicately balanced system. Four ambitious Arctic projects are pulling back the icy veil that shrouds our understanding of the Arctic Ocean?s role in our climate system. (First of a five-part series.)

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Arctic Ice

Data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center shows that, over the past three decades, the extent of Arctic…

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Voyages into the Antarctic Winter

Voyages into the Antarctic  Winter

At the extreme ends of the Earth, Antarctica is a vast, rocky continent, mostly ice-covered and barren. Surrounding Antarctica, the Southern Ocean is equally vast, cold, and ice-covered. But unlike the land, it teems with life, ranging from microscopic plankton to top predators: whales, seals, penguins, fish, and sea birds.

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Life in the Arctic Ocean

Life in the Arctic Ocean

Capped with a formidable ice and snow cover, plunged into total darkness during the winter, buffeted by blizzard winds,and bitterly cold, the Arctic Ocean is one of the most inaccessible and yet beautiful environments on Earth. Life here endures some of the greatest extremes in light and temperature known to our planet. Yet despite these inhospitable conditions, the Arctic Ocean is teeming with life.

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Unique Vehicles for a Unique Environment

Unique Vehicles for a Unique Environment

For climatologists and physical oceanographers, it is often said that the Arctic is a canary in the environmental coal mine. In the isolated Arctic Ocean Basin, a variety of oceanographic and other processes have conspired to create a layer of cold, salty water called a halocline, which shields the sea ice from underlying warmer waters that would otherwise melt it.

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