Program Managers

Martin Jeffries


Scott Harper



Science Steering Team

Craig Lee, Chair


Martin Doble

Laboratoire d'Oceanographie de Villefranche

Wieslaw Maslowski

Naval Postgraduate School

Tim Stanton

Naval Postgraduate School

Jim Thomson


Mary-Louise Timmermans

Yale University

Jeremy Wilkinson

British Antarctic Survey


Sylvia Cole

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Lee Freitag

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Hans Graber

RMAS, Univ. Miami

Phil Hwang

Scottish Association for Marine Science

Steve Jayne

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Rick Krishfield

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Ted Maksym

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Breck Owens

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Pam Posey

Naval Research Laboratory, Stennis Space Center

Luc Rainville


Andrew Roberts

Naval Postgraduate School

Axel Schweiger


Bill Shaw

Naval Postgraduate School

Mike Steele


John Toole

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Peter Wadhams

Cambridge University

Jinlun Zhang


Research Sponsors



Marginal Ice Zone (MIZ) Program

Office of Naval Research Departmental Research Initiative

Successful Field Season Ends
Autonomous Robots Deployed
Program Motivations

We have this amazing picture of the ocean, atmosphere, and ice going from the fully frozen period in March to meltdown and breakup right through to freeze-up in early autumn.

This picture of the physical system changing over time was made possible by the deployment and persistence of many robotic platforms over the seasons.

Martin Jeffries & Scott Harper Discuss Program Motivations

Martin Jeffries & Scott Harper Discuss Program Motivations

The Arctic and Global Prediction program is ONR's response to the Navy's need for more research into understanding the environment and expanding our predictive capabilities.

We've been investing in new observing systems to understand what is going on in the Arctic.

The Navy expects to operate in all the world's oceans. Because of the opening up of the Arctic during summers, the Navy anticipates that it will have to send surface vessels to the Arctic for miliatary or other emergency purposes.


Recent decades have seen pronounced Arctic warming accompanied by significant reductions in sea ice volume and a dramatic increase in summer open water area. The resulting combination of increased ice-free area and more mobile ice cover has led to dramatic shifts in the processes that govern atmosphere–ice–ocean interactions, with profound impacts on upper ocean structure and sea ice evolution. The summer sea ice retreat and resulting emergence of a seasonal marginal ice zone (MIZ) in the Beaufort Sea exemplifies these changes and provides an excellent laboratory for studying the underlying physics.

The Office of Naval Research MIZ initiative employs an integrated program of observations and numerical simulations to investigate ice–ocean–atmosphere dynamics in and around the marginal ice zone in the Beaufort Sea. The measurement program exploits a novel mix of autonomous technologies (ice-based instrumentation, floats, drifters, and gliders) to characterize the processes that govern MIZ evolution from initial breakup and MIZ formation through the course of the summertime sea ice retreat. The flexible nature and extended endurance of ice-mounted and mobile, autonomous oceanographic platforms allows the array to follow the MIZ as it retreats northward, sampling from fully ice-covered waters, through the difficult MIZ and into the open water to the south. The nested array of drifting and mobile autonomous platforms resolves a broad range of spatial and temporal scales. By remaining focused on the MIZ as it retreats, the array resolves changes in the physics associated with increasing open water extent.

Science Objectives

Technical Objectives

  • Understand the physics that control sea ice breakup and melt in and around the ice edge
  • Characterize changes in physics associated with decreasing ice/increasing open water
  • Explore feedbacks in the ice-ocean-atmosphere system that might increase/decrease the speed of sea ice decline
  • Collect a benchmark dataset for refining and testing models
  • Develop and demonstrate new robotic networks for collecting observations in, under, and around sea ice
  • Improve interpretations of satellite imagery
  • Improve numerical models to enhance seasonal forecast capability

Current Array Position

Current Array Data

Cluster 4

Cluster 3

Cluster 2