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Tracking Sea Ice Change with Drones

Raised toward our $30,000 Goal
21 Donors
Project has ended
Project ended on November 23, at 12:00 AM EST
Project Owners

Tracking Sea Ice Change with Drones

The Big Problem: For indigenous communities on the Arctic coast, sea ice is an integral part of life, contributing food and maintaining strong ties to their cultural identity. Despite the significant sea ice changes witnessed by locals, studies have primarily focused on higher latitudes and not in the seasonal ice field region of the Arctic. As the Arctic warms, more of the region is transitioning to seasonal ice fields, creating a time-critical aspect to our work. A critical question about the impact of climate change in Arctic waters is whether the region has passed a tipping point, beyond which the ice pack cannot recover. The answer may lie in the insufficiently studied marginal ice zone (MIZ).

We propose a first-of-its kind community partnership to expand our understanding of the changing Arctic.

How We Can Help: By establishing an early partnership with the Iñupiaq community in Kotzebue, Alaska, our project will use critical local knowledge to direct state-of-the-art technology and enhance our study of the sea ice environment in the Kotzebue Sound and southern Chukchi Sea. Advanced unmanned aerial systems (drones), large-scale field observations and modeling will provide insight to local ice observations in the MIZ, including later formation, thinner conditions, earlier seasonal break ups and the impact of enhanced ice-albedo feedback. Basic parameters such as sea surface temperature, salinity and small-scale sea ice distribution will be targeted, especially during the critical spring/summer melt period.

We hope to conclude the project will with a documentary telling the story of this community-based project to further participation in inclusive research design.

What Your Support Will Do: The scientists at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory have a long history of Arctic research and revolutionary observational science. To complete the project, our scientists require a fleet of drones equipped with a project-specific payload of instruments for measuring ice and ocean dynamics. Your support will enable us to raise the remaining funds needed to complete our fleet and allow our scientists to begin this important project.

Share Our Mission: If you share our interest in a changing Arctic and being at the forefront of climate and Earth science data collection, please donate now and share our community sea ice project.

To lean more about the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, our research and scientists, visit our website.

Thank you for your support!

Christopher Zappa

Choose a giving level


Science Fan

Donors will receive a thank you email for supporting the team.


Science Lover

Donors will receive a thank you note from the team.


Friend of Lamont

Donors will receive a photo from the expedition.


Sea Ice Supporter

Donors will receive a drone’s-eye photo from the expedition.


Team Member

Donors will receive an update after the expedition.



Donors will receive updates from the team during the expedition.


Arctic Protector

Donors will be invited to have a direct conversation with the returning team via webinar to hear first-hand about the expedition.


Be a Hero

Donors will have an opportunity to speak with the scientists.

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