ICEX 2020

University of Alaska Fairbanks • Ukpeagvik Iñupiat Corporation • United States Navy

What is ICEX?

The United States Navy's ICEX, or Ice Exercise, is a biennial exercise conducted above the Arctic Circle in cooperation with other branches of the military, government agencies, allied partners, private organizations, and academic institutions.

ICEX provides submarines the opportunity to train in an operationally demanding and challenging environment, as well as an opportunity for scientific studies on ice thickness and the environment.

Video courtesy United States Navy

How UAF assists ICEX

UAF personnel assist Ukpeagvik Iñupiat Corporation's support of ICEX by contributing a team of specialized subject matter experts (SMEs) in fields related to drifting sea ice camps.

The UAF off-ice decision support team is comprised of experts in sea ice mechanics and dynamics with decades of on-ice experience in the Alaska Beaufort Sea, including ice camps dating back to 1991. Expertise includes:

  • physics of drifting sea ice
  • remote ice-based field operations
  • advanced analysis of satellite data
  • weather and climate forecasting
  • scenarios planning

UAF personnel follow a scenario-based approach to continuously assess the relative level of risk of certain hazards throughout the planning and operation phases. This involves analysis and synthesis of satellite data and a range of seasonal to weekly forecasts of variables such first year sea ice thickness, sea ice drift and storm activity.

UAF personnel take part in planning meetings prior to field operations and participate in reconnaissance flights to select the ice floe for the drifting ice camp. During camp operations, an SME is physically present at the camp and maintains situation awareness through regular communication with the decision support team at UAF.

The team

Ice Support Scientist & Drifting Ice Camp SMEs

  • Joshua Jones, UAF International Arctic Research Center
  • Andy Mahoney (PI), UAF Geophysical Institute
  • Jackie Richter-Menge, UAF Institute of Northern Engineering

Off-Ice Decision Support Team

  • Uma Bhatt, UAF International Arctic Research Center
  • Hajo Eicken, UAF International Arctic Research Center
  • John Walsh, UAF International Arctic Research Center

Data Analysis & Forecast Support

  • Tom Ballinger, UAF International Arctic Research Center
  • Brian Brettschneider, UAF International Arctic Research Center
  • Lew Shapiro, UAF Geophysical Institute

KEY events

  • 6 JAN—Begin satellite based floe tracking
  • 17 FEB—Begin operations at Deadhorse, AK
  • 21 FEB—Begin aerial reconnaissance and pioneer flights for floe selection
  • 25 FEB—Select ice floe
  • 26 FEB—Begin camp construction
  • 3 MAR—Begin camp operations
  • 15 MAR—End camp operations
  • 16 MAR—Begin camp demobilization
  • 20 MAR—Everyone off ice
Chief Hospital Corpsman Kristopher Mandaro, assigned to Underwater Construction Team One, surfaces from a waterhole during a torpedo exercise in the Arctic Circle. (MC1 Daniel Hinton/Navy)

US Naval Research Laboratory scientists from the Marine Geoscience Division, and a US Naval Academy Midshipman intern, participating in the Navy’s March 2016 ICEX, lived and worked for one week at the ICEX Ice Camp located above the Arctic Circle on an ice floe in the Beaufort Sea. During the day, usually in minus 25- to minus 45-degree temperatures, the team worked collecting ice thickness and snow character data in support of their NRL Sea Ice Physics research. Coincident airborne sensor data was also collected over the ground team’s work sites. (CS2 Tyler Thompson/Navy)
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