Researchers aboard the CCG Cutter/Icebreaker Amundsen are studying arctic mud in an effort to learn more about sea ice. The scientific method being used is similar to the study of concentric rings in trees and coral. In this case, scientists are hoping to establish a record of sea ice concentrations over a period of two or three hundred years. At present, sea ice records are generated by satellite imagery, which provides data for only twenty to thirty years.
One of the benefits of the research will be furthering our understanding of greenhouse effects and global warming.
The study involves measuring levels of lipids. Lipid concentrations relate directly to concentrations of algae, which relates to the presence of sea ice.
The study can help determine pack ice conditions for a given year, e.g. the year Sir John Franklin of the Royal Navy lost two ships and 129 men in search of the Northwest Passage.