The Arctic is a hotspot for environmental change and cutting-edge oceanographic research. Accessing remote Arctic field sites requires specialized research vessels and shoreside logistics. The R/V Sikuliaq and USCGC Healy are common choices for vessels, but the barriers to entry for using these platforms are relatively high for junior scientists. New investigators must be familiar with protocols and procedures for requesting these vessels, such as the Marine Facilities Planning portal for NSF UNOLS vessels and direct avenues of communication with the Coast Guard for USCGC Healy. Investigators must also have knowledge of how to effectively plan transits, mobilize equipment to rural communities, create cruise plans, and manage interpersonal dynamics at sea in very remote locations.
In order to help train and equip the current generation of early career investigators with the tools needed to request and utilize ship time on these types of vessels, the Arctic Icebreaker Coordinating Committee (a UNOLS ship committee) with anticipated support from the National Science Foundation and U.S. Coast Guard is hosting an early career Arctic Chief Scientist training cruise program in 2024.
This program is modeled after a successful 2023 training program which included a week-long transit on the R/V Sikuliaq. More information on that past program (including a list of topics which were covered) is available at https://blogs.oregonstate.edu/arcticcruise/.
The 2024 program will feature a 10-15-day transit of the Northwest Passage on USCGC Healy from northern Canada to Greenland. This at-sea program will include a variety of training modules ranging from presentations about best practices in Arctic research to interactive discussions of project development and tours of shipboard spaces and equipment. Participants will have the opportunity to interact at sea with several mentors with a range of disciplinary expertise and may also have opportunity to help collect samples as part of a science plan designed to optimize the transit through the passage.
The cruise will be immediately preceded by a 2-day pre-cruise workshop at a location near the port of departure. During the workshop, participants will have opportunity to hear from agency representatives, have discussions about interpersonal dynamics, and participate in team-building activities.
A series of pre-cruise planning meetings will also be held between March and July in order to prepare for the trip.
Banner image by LCDR Brian Williams, U.S. Coast Guard