The MERLIN Project


MERLIN is an educational prototype under the larger pedagogic topic called Active-Learning Curriculum.

The  goal  of  MERLIN  is  to  prepare  the  next  generation

  •  with  critical-thinking  and
  •  dynamic-decision-making skills needed to understand a changing environmental world.

This specific prototype leverages extreme conditions experienced during polar field work.  For effectiveness, we choose one of the most rapidly changing large-scale surface areas on the Earth, namely, the Arctic sea ice.

Scaling the topic down to a curriculum level, this project focuses on

the need for increased accuracy of sea ice thickness so that decision making can move from the debate of “the climate is changing?” to adaptation in a changing world.

To keep the topic manageable,

  1. students learn how easy it is to detect sea ice loss, and
  2.  then subsequently, how difficult it is to quantify the changes and 
  3. more importantly the impacts to human infrastructure and sustainability.

Because access to sea ice is so limited, especially for students, we confine our studies to the seemingly simple problem of quantifying the relationship between

  • point samples, 
  • profile transects, 
  • swath observations, and 
  • gridded imagery analysis (the so-called up-scaling problem).

MERLIN’s research efforts integrate information between ground-truth support and underwater, airborne, and spaceborne platforms engaged in sea ice monitoring.

First field tests are scheduled for first half of March (4-7 prep, 8-16 thickness survey) in Barrow, Alaska to test the overall concept and feasibility of the program.



Cathleen Geiger, Lead PI

Tracy DeLiberty,

Jesse Samluk, Ph.D. Student

Renato Kane, MS. Student

Scott Sorensen, Ph.D. Student


Barrow, Alaska


March 4-16, 2013
4th – 7th – preparation
8th-16th – thickness survey


(alphabetical order by institution directly contributing to field support):

Arctic Collaborating Environment (ACE): Gina Wade

Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL): Jacqueline Richter-Menge Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE-UD): James Kolodzey, Chandra Kambhamettu Geography, CEOE: Tracy DeLiberty, Colleen Leithren

International Arctic Buoy Program (IABP), University of Washington (UW): Ignatius Rigor

Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL): Son Ngheim

National Ice Center (NIC): Pablo Clemente-Colón, Sean Helfrich, and Bethany McDonald

Naval Academy (USNA): John Woods and Gina Henderson

Stanford Research Institute (SRI), Stanford University: Todd Valentic