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Update from Oregon Schools

Updated: Oct 17, 2023

Submitted by Jennifer Hutchings, Ph.D. Oregon State University

During spring 2023 several schools in Oregon participated in Float Your Boat. We had great fun decorating boats, which are now on the US Coast Guard Ice Breaker, The Healy, and will be deployed on ice this month. We have not yet heard where they were deployed, but will pass the information on as soon as we know. {Update: The crew of the Healy also decorated some boats, and they have posted that the boats were placed on sea ice September 13.}

Figure 1: The United States Coast Guard Cutter, The Healy, is circled in red at it’s position on September 18 2023. The track the Healy has taken over the previous few days is shown in blue. Map provided by and accessed on September 18 2023.

The Healy is participating in program called the Nansen Basin Observing System (NABOS), which has monitored Arctic water since 2002. They are measuring water properties and deploying autonomous instruments that will monitor the water temperature and salinity, among other properties, throughout the year. NABOS has identified that there is an increase in Atlantic water entering the Arctic, and the European side of the Arctic is becoming more like the North Atlantic. The ice that covers the ocean is becoming thinner and this has implications for the planet as the Arctic is our global air conditioner, cooling the atmosphere.

Nansen was a Norwegian Explorer, who lead the first expedition to drift across the Arctic that departed in 1893 for the Arctic. This expedition, on board the sailing boat called The Fram, showed that ice drifted in currents from Siberia to the Greenland Sea. Nansen’s name was given to the Ocean Basin that the Transpolar Drift traverses. An ocean basin is deep water between mid-ocean ridges. The water in this deep basin is somewhat isolated and takes many hundreds of years to mix with shallow water and the water that enters the Arctic from the North Atlantic.

Nansen is a common link between the expeditions that are deploying our boats this year and the last Oregon wooden boat deployment.

In 2019 Oregon boats were deployed around the MOSAiC Ice Camp. This camp drifted across the Arctic between October 2019 and October 2020, following the Transpolar Drift that Nansen’s Fram cruise documented over 130 years ago.

Over the last few year some of the buoys deployed at the same time as the Oregon boats have washed up on the shores of Iceland, Ireland, Norway and the Faroe Isles. In the map you can see the drift tracks and where the buoys washed ashore. Not all came ashore, some stopped reporting in the sea. Of those that have come to shore a couple have been found by locals, that we know of. One buoy that two boats were deployed next to washed up on a beach in the Faroe Isles and was found by Eli Lassen. The buoy had been damaged and was not reporting when it washed ashore. You can read more about this below or here

Figure 2: Tracks of the buoys deployed during the MOSAiC field campaign are shown on the map as blue lines. A photograph of the buoy found on a beach of the Faroe Isles is on the left. Another similar buoy was found in northern Norway.

There also been several boats found on these shorelines. Most of these boats have been identified from earlier deployments in the Arctic. However, given where the buoys landed we do anticipate that some of the Oregon boats may be found on beaches of Europe.


Oregon schools involved included:

Four Rivers Elementary School

Nyssa Elementary School

Chiloquin Elementary School

Dayton Grade School

Heritage Elementary School

Lincoln Elementary School

Nellie Muir Elementary School

Tom McCall Upper Elementary School

Washington Elementary School

Willamina Elementary School

Allen Dale Elementary School

Highland Elementary School

Lorna Byrne Middle School

Redwood Elementary School


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