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How It Works

Float Your Boat is a project for community members and students to learn about the Arctic Ocean –  its circulation, its sea-ice cover, and how it’s changing.
  1. Polar Educators request 8-inch-long wooden boats, stamped with a number and web address.

  2. Polar Educators teach learners about the Arctic Ocean circulation, sea ice, and how it is changing. 

  3. Learners decorate boats and then educators return them to UW Polar Science Center.

  4. Float Your Boat organizers load wooden boats onto an icebreaker or airplane bound for the Arctic Ocean.

  5. The crew deploys your boat on an ice floe in the Arctic Ocean, along with a GPS buoy.

  6. Everyone can track the drift of their boat by following the location of the buoy.

  7. Boats will eventually end up in the ocean when the ice drifts out of the Arctic and melts.

  8. Someone may find your boat on a distant shore and report their find through the web site (typically years from now).

  9. Float Your Boat organizers will contact you and let you know!

Wooden boats are deployed during an Arctic Ocean expedition on the sea ice next to an Arctic weather buoy that is actively transmitting data to the International Arctic Buoy Programme. The wooden boat is assumed to be in the same position as the buoy as long as the buoy batteries last and the sea ice lasts. Learners can then follow the buoy data as a method to follow their wooden boat in the Arctic Ocean currents. Polar educators can request boats here.

Meet The Scientists

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David Forcucci, MS

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Former marine science coordinator for the USCGC Healy and underwater photographer

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Ignatius Rigor, Ph.D.

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Director of International Arctic Buoy Programme, Climatologist and professor at the Polar Science Center, University of Washington

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Harry Stern
 

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Mathematician who studies Arctic sea ice at the Polar Science Center,  University of Washington

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Sarah R. Johnson,
MA.Ed.

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PolarTREC Educator with International Arctic Buoy Programme, climate change educator at Wild Rose Education

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Kjetil Lygre
Ph.D.

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Acoustic and Oceanography  Researcher at Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center, Norway

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Hanne Sagen
Ph.D.

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Acoustic and Oceanography  Researcher at Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center, Norway

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Wendy Ermold, MS

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Physicist, scientific programmer, and field technician at the Polar Science Center, University of Washington

Project Participants