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ASPIRE: The Amundsen Sea Polynya International Research Expedition

Understanding the climate-sensitive processes supporting the Antarctic's most productive marine ecosystem

The Amundsen Sea is a place on Earth about as far as you can get from human civilization. Satellites reveal it to be the most productive region of coastal Antarctica. Nearby glaciers and ice sheets are melting rapidly. Between November 2010 and January 2011, the U.S. Research Icebreaker Nathaniel B. Palmer was joined by the Swedish Icebreaker Oden for the Amundsen Sea Polynya International Research Expedition (ASPIRE). Scientists on the NBP focused on understanding the climate-sensitive dynamics of the open water region, known as a “polynya,” while the Oden investigated the disappearing sea-ice ecosystem nearby. Here we report our findings from this extraordinary place.

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