Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder

NSIDC Cryosphere Seminar

Measurement, Knowledge, and Representation of Arctic Sea Ice by Laura Seddon, Department of Geography at Durham University

Abstract: Satellite-derived sea-ice products and datasets are instrumental tools in the reporting of Arctic sea-ice conditions. Through numerical and visual representations, these products have contributed significantly to our understanding of Arctic sea-ice characteristics and variability, knowledge of which is critical for a wide range of applications including operational forecasting and climate research. They have also influenced how the region is framed within broader political and socio-economic contexts. However, the complex and dynamic nature of sea ice is difficult to measure and this requires the application of a number of assumptions and simplifications in data acquisition, processing, and classification. Moreover, differences in these scientific practices can result in different representations of sea-ice conditions. These differences raise important questions over the nature of the underlying decisions, methods, assumptions, and conventions that inform the production of knowledge about complex and changing environments, as well as about the linked ways in which both science and policy (and the institutions that join them) manage the uncertainties in sea-ice observation. This talk introduces my PhD research which explores these issues using an interdisciplinary approach. The research draws upon ideas from the physical sciences, science and technology studies, and critical cartography to examine and compare various sea-ice data products, as well as the social contexts in which they are constructed. The aim is to gain insights into how dynamic and indeterminate geophysical data is acquired, processed, and reported in Arctic sea-ice science, in order to contribute to a wider understanding of the sociological nature of scientific knowledge.

Brief introduction: Laura Seddon is a PhD student in the Department of Geography at Durham University and a member of the Durham Arctic Research Centre for Training and Interdisciplinary Collaboration (DurhamARCTIC), where her research examines the nature of satellite-derived sea-ice products and the knowledge they produce about the changing Arctic region.


Wednesday, October 14, 2020
11:00am to 12:00pm


Event Type




Mistia Zuckerman