National Snow and Ice Data Center
Science Ice Exercise (SCICEX)
The Science Ice Exercise (SCICEX) program is a collaboration between the U.S. Navy and the marine research community to utilize nuclear-powered submarines for the study of the Arctic Ocean. Unlike surface ships, submarines have the unique and valuable ability to operate and take measurements regardless of sea ice cover and weather conditions. The goal of the program is to acquire comprehensive data about Arctic sea ice, water properties, and bathymetry.
SCICEX was officially founded in 1994 after a successful feasibility test that took place in 1993 where civilian scientists joined naval personnel on the submarine to acquire scientific data. SCICEX data provide an extraordinary volume of ice draft measurements from upward-looking sonar and depth soundings from side-scan and other sonar. These measurements constitute one of the most complete mappings available of ice thickness in the central Arctic Basin and provide orders of magnitudes more bathymetry data of the region than previously acquired.
SCICEX is important because it adds critical pieces to the overall information needed to analyze sea ice and ocean dynamics — ice thickness and bathymetry data in particular but also chemical, biological, and physical oceanographic data. With the success of the initial project in 1993, the U.S. Navy and the National Science Foundation (NSF) signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) in 1994 that called for five more dedicated SCICEX missions. The dedicated SCICEX cruises occurred in 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, and 1999.
Data and Resources