As sea ice continues to shrink in the Arctic, we’re likely to see more shipping, more oil exploration, more tourism, and more fishing. And all of this activity means that in the future, we’ll probably going have to deal with an oil spill in this remote region. So how do we prepare for that? The Coast Guard cutter Healy, a 420-foot-long icebreaker, is now heading north in answer to this question. The mission: an annual exercise called Arctic Shield led by the U.S. Coast Guard’s Research and Development Center. Onboard the Healy, scientists are gearing up to deal with a simulated oil spill in the icy Arctic. To tell us all about Arctic Shield and NOAA’s role in this expedition, we talk to Zachary Winters-Staszak, a spatial data specialist on the mission from the National Ocean Service’s Response and Restoration office.
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