Arctic sea ice cores collected during the 2019 Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC) field campaign were processed in a -20°C sea ice lab at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) by NSF funded researcher Dr. Marc Oggier. Dr. Oggier studies the microstructure of Arctic sea ice crystals by placing thin sections of ice shaved down from different depths a long the ice cores between polarized light, which highlights in a kaleidoscope of colors the individual crystals as a result of the birefringent optical properties of crystalline ice.
The size, orientation, and arrangement of ice crystals and inclusions of brine, gas, and impurities define the microstructure of sea ice. The small-scale structure of sea ice governs the thermodynamic, mechanical, optical, and transport properties of the ice cover. In other words, the microstructure of Arctic sea ice crystals change in shape, size,
orientation, and arrangement throughout the growth-melt annual cycle, which determines how much sunlight passes through the sea ice to ocean, impacting parameters like biological productivity and the global carbon cycle. “It is critical to understand how these fundamental properties will respond to ongoing changes in Arctic sea ice,” says Dr. Oggier.
Working in the capacity of science communication, filmmaker Amy Lauren documented both the first leg of the 2019 MOSAiC expedition and the microstructure research conducted by Dr. Oggier at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research this past year. She has been creating with this research since 2019. Project Sea Ice is the wave of Lauren's artistic collaborations that have been inspired by Dr. Oggier’s research.
In her latest education & public outreach project, Lauren collaborated with design house IAGU, to tell the story of the diminishing Arctic sea ice cover through fashion. Lauren turned her photographs of Dr. Oggier’s thin sections into patterns and printed them on fabrics that represent different facets of textile sustainability, merging climate science and sustainable fashion education in order to address the environmental toll of the fashion industry. The Sea Ice Collection premiered at New York Fashion Week this past September.