The Ocean – Atmosphere – Sea Ice – Snowpack (OASIS) program was created in 2004 as an international, multidisciplinary group to study chemical and physical exchange processes among the title reservoirs, focussing on the impact on tropospheric chemistry and climate, as well as on the surface/biosphere and feedbacks in the Arctic.

During the International Polar Year (IPY), OASIS was involved in a number of large-scale field studies in both polar environments. Sea ice was of particular interest, as it plays a critical role in polar environments: it is a highly reflective surface that interacts with radiation; it provides a habitat for mammals and microorganisms alike, thus playing a key role in polar trophic processes and elemental cycles; and it creates a saline environment for chemical processes that facilitate a highly oxidizing (cleaning) atmosphere in an otherwise low-radiation environment.  Ocean-air and sea ice-air interfaces also produce aerosol particles that provide cloud condensation nuclei (CCN).

Sea ice is undergoing rapid change in the Arctic, transitioning from a perennial or multi-year ice (MYI) pack to a thinner, seasonal first-year ice (FYI) pack, thereby transforming into a more Antarctic-like system.  Such changes in critical interfaces will likely have large impacts system wide – from habitat loss to dramatic changes in heat and water vapor fluxes to changes in atmospheric chemistry.  OASIS scientists are deeply involved in studies aimed at understanding interactions among components of the Ocean – Atmosphere – Sea Ice – Snowpack system and potential feedbacks at their most fundamental levels.

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