About Mike Steele

Mike Steele

Mike Steele is interested in the large-scale circulation of sea ice and water in the Arctic Ocean. He uses both observational data and numerical model simulations to better understand the average circulation pathways as well as the causes of interannual variations in these pathways. His analysis of ocean observations has focused on the upper layers, which are generally quite cold and fresh.

One focus of his research focuses on the sources and sinks of this relatively fresh ocean water, the movement of this water within the Arctic Ocean, and its fate once it leaves the arctic. It seems that the Arctic Ocean tends to collect relatively fresh ocean water over perhaps 15 years, then releases it in a relatively quick period of perhaps 5 years. Recent data indicate that a release might be starting now. Another topic of Dr. Steele’s research is the effects of sea ice retreat on the properties of the upper Arctic Ocean. Specifically, he is looking at the warming of the upper ocean during summer. How much of this warming is due to local atmospheric heating, and how much from heating by northward-flowing ocean currents? How much of this summer heat can survive through the following fall and winter? What is the effect of this heat on the overlying sea ice cover? Dr. Steele is also collaborating with biological oceanographers to better understand how changes in ocean salinity and temperature are affecting arctic plankton and thus the marine ecosystem.

Dr. Steele has active field programs in which data are collected in the field by his team and others, using aircraft, ships, and autonomous sensors like buoys and profiling floats. He is also involved with efforts to improve computer models of the arctic marine system, via the Arctic Ocean Model Intercomparison Project, AOMIP.

Funding for his research comes from the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA). He is involved with many “outreach” programs such as lectures to K-12 and college students. Dr. Steele has been with the Polar Science Center since 1987.

Selected Projects

  • PSC_Logo

    UpTempO: Measuring the Upper Layer Temperature of the Arctic Ocean

    This project aims to measure the time history of summer warming and subsequent fall cooling of the seasonally open water areas of the Arctic Ocean. Investigators will focus on those areas with the greatest ice retreat i.e., the northern Beaufort, Chukchi, East Siberian, and Laptev seas. Their method will be to build up to 10 relatively inexpensive ocean thermistor string buoys per year, to be deployed in the seasonally ice-free regions of the Arctic Ocean. Arctic-ADOS buoy data will be provided to both the research and operational weather forecasting communities in near real time on the International Arctic Buoy Program (IABP) web site.

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  • dylandiatom

    The Important Little Life of Dylan Diatom

    PI: Mike Steele A 3D animation, “The Important Little Life of Dylan Diatom,” shows the plight of a diatom in the Arctic Ocean. This slice of Dylan’s life, sponsored by the National Science Foundation and animated by student Anna Czoski, shows middle school students the role of phytoplankton in the Arctic.

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  • AOMIP_Logo

    The Arctic Ocean Model Intercomparison Project (AOMIP): Synthesis and Integration

    The AOMIP science goals are to validate and improve Arctic Ocean models in a coordinated fashion and investigate variability of the Arctic Ocean and sea ice at seasonal to decadal time scales, and identify mechanisms responsible for the observed changes.

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Selected Publications

  • Morison, J., R. Kwok, C. Peralta-Ferriz, M. Alkire, I. Rigor, R. Andersen, and M. Steele, Changing Arctic Ocean Freshwater Pathways Measured With ICESat and GRACE, Nature, 481, 66-70, DOI: 10.1038/nature10705, 2012

  • Lique, C. and M. Steele, Where can we find a seasonal cycle of the Atlantic water temperature within the Arctic Basin?, J. Geophys. Res., 117, C3, doi:10.1029/2011JC007612, 2012.

  • Morison, J., R. Kwok, C. Peralta-Ferriz, M. Alkire, I. Rigor, R. Andersen, and M. Steele, Changing Arctic Ocean Freshwater Pathways Measured With ICESat and GRACE, Nature, Vol. 481, doi:10.1038/nature10705, 2012.

  • Popova, E. E., A. Yool, A. C. Coward, F. Dupont, C. Deal, S. Elliott, E. Hunke, M. Jin, M. Steele, J. Zhang, What controls primary production in the Arctic Ocean? Results from an ecosystem model intercomparison, J. Geophys. Res., 117, doi:10.1029/2011JC007112, 2012.

  • Matrai, P. A., E. Olson, S. Suttles, V. J. Hill, L. A. Codispoti, B. Light, and M. Steele, Synthesis of primary production in the Arctic Ocean: I. Surface waters, 1954-2007, Prog. Oceanogr., in review, 2012.

  • Hill, V. J., P. A. Matrai, E. Olson, S. Suttles, M. Steele, L. A. Codispoti, R. Zimmerman, Synthesis of primary production in the Arctic Ocean: II.  In situ and remotely sensed integrated estimates, 1999-2007, Prog. Oceanogr., in review, 2012.

  • Codispoti, L. A., V. Kelly, A.Thessen, P. Matrai, S. Suttles, V. J. Hill, M. Steele, B. Light, Synthesis of primary production in the Arctic Ocean: III. Nitrate and phosphate based estimates of net community production, Prog. Oceanogr., in review, 2012.

  • Clement Kinney, J., W. Maslowski, Y. Aksenov, B. de Cuevas, J. Jakacki, A. Nguyen, R. Osinski, M. Steele, R. A. Woodgate, and J. Zhang, On the flow through Bering Strait: A synthesis of model results and observations, AGU monograph, in press, 2012.

  • Proshutinsky, A., M.-L. Timmermans, I. Ashik, A. Beszczynska-Moeller, E. Carmack, I. Frolov, R. Ingvaldsen, M. Itoh, T. Kikuchi, R. Krishfield, H. Loeng, F. McLaughlin, S. Nishino, R. Pickart, B. Rabe, B. Rudels, I. Semiletov, U. Schauer, N. Shakhova, K. Shimada, V. Sokolov, M. Steele, J. Toole, T. Weingartner, W. Williams, R. Woodgate, M. Yamamoto-Kawai, and S. Zimmermann, The Arctic, c. Ocean [in “State of the Climate in 2011”], Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., in review, 2012.

  • Morison, J., R. Kwok, C. Peralta-Ferriz, M. Alkire, I. Rigor, R. Andersen, M. Steele (2011), Changes in Arctic Ocean circulation and freshwater measure with ICESat altimetry, GRACE gravimetry, and in situ observations, Nature, 2011.

  • Popova, E. E., A. Yool, A. C. Coward, F. Dupont, C. Deal, S. Elliott, E. Hunke, M. Jin, M. Steele, J. Zhang, What controls primary production in the Arctic Ocean? Results from an ecosystem model intercomparison, J. Geophys. Res., submitted, 2011.

  • Proshutinsky, A., Y. Aksenov, J. Clement-Kinney, R. Gerdes, E. Golubeva, D. Holland, G. Holloway, A. John, M. Johnson, E. Popova, M. Steele, and E. Watanabe, Recent advances in Arctic Ocean studies employing models from the Arctic Ocean Model Intercomparison Project, Oceanography, 24(3), 102-113, 2011.

  • Steele, M., W. Ermold, and J. Zhang, Modeling the formation and fate of the near-surface temperature maximum in the Canadian Basin of the Arctic Ocean, J. Geophys. Res., 116, C11015, doi:10.1029/2010JC006803, 2011.

  • J. M. Jackson, C. Lique M. Alkire, M. Steele, C. M. Lee, W.M. Smethie and P. Schlosser: The hydrography of the North Ellesmere Shelf, Lincoln Sea, Arctic Ocean, from 1991-2011, under review for JGR.

  • Morison, J., R. Kwok, C. Peralta-Ferriz, M. Alkire, I. Rigor, R. Andersen, M. Steele (2011), Changes in Arctic Ocean circulation and freshwater measure with ICESat altimetry, GRACE gravimetry, and in situ observations, Nature, accepted.

  • Rawlings, M.A., M.Steele, M.M.Holland, J.C. Adam., J.E.Cherry, J.A.Francis, P.Y.Groisman, L.D.Hinzman, TG.Huntington, D.L.Kane, J.S.Kimball, R.Kwok, R.B.Lammers, C.M.Lee, D.P. Lettenmaier, K.C.McDonald, E.Podest, J.W.Pundsack, B.Rudels, M.C.Serreze, A.Shiklomanov, O.Skagseth, T.J.Troy, C.J.Vorosmarty, M.Wensnahan, E.F.Wood, R Woodgate, D.Yang, K.Zhang, T.Zhang, 2010, Analysis of the Arctic System for Freshwater Cycle Intersification: Observations and Expectations, Journal of Climate, 23, 5715-5737.

  • Clement Kinney., J., W.Maslowski, Y.Aksenov, B. de Cuebas, J. Jakacki, A.Nguyen, R.Osinski, M.Steele, R.A. Woodgate, J. Zhang, On the Flow Through Bering Straight: A Synthesis of Model Results and Observations, sub. 2010 to Springer Book focused on the Pacific Artcic.

  • Zhang, J.L., M. Steele, and A. Schweiger, “Arctic sea ice response to atmospheric forcings with varying levels of anthropogenic warming and climate variability“, Geophys. Res. Lett, 37, L20505, doi: 10.1029/2010gl044988, 2010.

  • Laidre, K. L., M. P. Heide-Jørgensen, W. Ermold, and M. Steele, “Narwhals document continued warming of Baffin Bay”, Journal of Geophysical Research 115: C10049, doi:10.1029/2009JC005820, 2010.

  • Clement Kinney., J., W.Maslowski Y. Aksenov, B.de Cuevas, J. Jakacki, A. Nguyen, R.Osinki, M.Steele, R.A. Woodgate, J.Zhang, “On the Flow Through Bering Strait: A Synthesis of Model Results and Observations”, AGU monograph, in review, 2011.

  • Laidre, K. L., M. P. Heide-Jørgensen, W. Ermold, and M. Steele. 2010. Narwhals document continued warming of southern Baffin Bay. Journal of Geophysical Research 115: C10049, doi:10.1029/2009JC005820.

  • Zhang, J., Y. H. Spitz, M. Steele, C. Ashjian, R. Campbell, L. Berline, and P. Matrai, Modeling the impact of declining sea ice on the arctic marine planktonic ecosystem, J. Geophys. Res., 115, C10015, doi:10.1029/2009JC005387, 2010.

  • Proshutinsky, A., M.-L. Timmermans, I. Ashik, A. Beszczynska-Moeller, E. Carmack, I. Frolov, R. Krishfield, F. McLaughlin, J. Morison, I. Polyakov, K. Shimada, V. Sokolov, M. Steele, J. Toole, and R. Woodgate, The Arctic, c. Ocean [in “State of the Climate in 2009”], Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 91 (6), S85-87, 2010.

  • Kwok, R., S. Farrell, R. Forsberg, K. Giles, S. Laxon, D. McAdoo, J. Morison, L. Padman, C. Peralta-Ferriz, A. Proshutinsky, and M. Steele,’ Combining satellite altimetry, time-variable gravity, and bottom pressure observations to understand the Arctic Ocean: A transformative opportunity’, Proceedings of the OceanObs09: Sustained Ocean Observations and Information for Society Conference, Venice, Italy, 21-25 September 2009, Hall, J., Harrison D.E. and Stammer, D., Eds., 2, ESA Publication WPP-30, 2010.

  • Steele, M., J. Zhang, and W. Ermold, Mechanisms of summertime upper Arctic Ocean warming and the effect on sea ice melt, J. Geophys. Res., 115, C11004, doi:10.1029/2009JC005849, 2010.

  • Rawlins, M. A., M. Steele, and others, Analysis of the arctic system for freshwater cycle intensification: observations and expectations, J. Climate, vol. 23, pp5715-5737, 2010.

  • Polyakov, I. V., and others, incl. M. Steele, Arctic Ocean warming contributes to reduced polar ice cap, J. Phys. Oceanogr., 40, 2743-2756, 2010.

  • deSteur, L., M. Steele, J. Morison, I. G. Rigor, C. M. Lee, and E. Hansen, Recent changes in Arctic Ocean freshwater distribution, J. Climate, in review, 2010.

  • Matrai, P. A., E. Olson, S. Suttles, V. J. Hill, L. A. Codispoti, B. Light, and M. Steele, Synthesis of primary production in the Arctic Ocean: I. Surface waters, 1954-2007, Prog. Oceanogr., submitted, 2010.

  • Hill, V. J., P. A. Matrai, E. Olson, S. Suttles, M. Steele, L. A. Codispoti, R. Zimmerman, Synthesis of primary production in the Arctic Ocean: II.  In situ and remotely sensed integrated estimates, 1999-2007, Prog. Oceanogr., submitted, 2010.

  • Codispoti, L. A., V. Kelly, A.Thessen, P. Matrai, S. Suttles, V. J. Hill, M. Steele, B. Light, Synthesis of primary production in the Arctic Ocean: III. Nitrate and phosphate based estimates of net community production, Prog. Oceanogr., 2010.

  • Steele, M., W. Ermold, and J. Zhang, Modeling the formation and fate of the near-surface temperature maximum in the Canadian Basin of the Arctic Ocean, J. Geophys. Res., in review, 2010.

  • McPhee, M., A. Proshutinsky, J. Morison, M. Steele, and M. Alkire, "Rapid change in freshwater content of the Arctic Ocean", Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L10602, doi:10.1029/2009GL037525, 2009.
  • Rawlins, M. A., M. Steele, M. C. Serreze, C. J. Vorosmarty, W. Ermold, R. B. Lammers, K. C. McDonald, T. M. Pavelsky, A. Shilomanov, and J. Zhang, "Tracing freshwater anomalies through the air-land-ocean system: A case study from the Mackenzie River Basin and the Beaufort Gyre", Atmos. Ocean, 47(1), 79–97, doi:10.3137/OC301, 2009.
  • Rawlins, M. A., M. Steele, M. C. Serreze, C. J. Vorosmarty, W. Ermold, R. B. Lammers, K. C. McDonald, T. M. Pavelsky, A. Shilomanov, and J. Zhang,’ Tracing freshwater anomalies through the air-land-ocean system: A case study from the Mackenzie River Basin and the Beaufort Gyre’, Atmos. Ocean, 47(1), 79–97, doi:10.3137/OC301, 2009.

  • Francis, J.A., D.M. White, J.J. Cassano, W.J. Gutowski, L.D. Hinzman, M.M. Holland, M.A. Steele, and C.J. Vörösmarty,’ An arctic hydrologic system in transition: Feedbacks and impacts on terrestrial, marine, and human life’, J. Geophys. Res., 114, doi:10.1029/2008JG000902, 2009.

  • McPhee, M., J. Morison, A. Proshutinsky, M. Steele, M. Alkire (2009), Rapid Change in Freshwater Content of the Arctic Ocean, Geophysical Research Letters 36: doi:10.1029/2009GL037525.

  • Zhang, J., M.Steele, and R.A. Woodgate,’ The role of Pacific Water in the dramatic retreat of arctic sea-ice during summer 2007′, Geophys. Res. Lett., in press.

  • Zhang J., M. Steele, R. Lindsay, A. Schweiger, J. Morison, “Ensemble 1-Year predictions of Arctic sea ice for the spring and summer of 2008″, Journal of Polar Science,submitted 2008.

  • Zhang, J, R.W Lindsay, M. Steele and A. Schweiger, “What Drove the Dramatic Retreat of Arctic Sea Ice During Summer 2007?”, Geophys. Res. Lett., doi:10.1029/2008GL034005.

  • Steele, M., W. Ermold, and J. Zhang,’ Arctic Ocean surface warming trends over the past 100 years’, Geophys. Res. Lett., 35, L02614, doi:10.1029/2007GL031651, 2008.

  • Schweiger, A.J. , J. Zhang, R.W. Lindsay and M. Steele,’ Did unusually sunny skies help drive the sea ice anomaly of 2007′, Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 35, L10503, doi:10.1029/2008GL033463, 2008.

  • Lindsay, R.W., J. Zhang, A. Schweiger and M.A. Steele, “Seasonal predictions of ice extent in the Arctic Ocean”, J. Geophys. Res., 113(C2), 2008.

  • Polyakov, I. V., V. Alexeev, G. I. Belchansky, I. A. Dmitrenko, V. Ivanov, S. Kirillov, A. Korablev, M. Steele, L. A. Timokhov, and I. Yashayaev, "Arctic Ocean freshwater changes over the past 100 years and their causes", J. Climate, 21, 364-384, 2008.
  • Schweiger, A.J., J. Zhang, R.W. Lindsay, and M. Steele, “Did unusually sunny skies help drive the record sea ice minimum of 2007?”, Geophys. Res. Lett, 35, 10, 6, doi: L10503,10.1029/2008gl033463, 2008b.

    http://www.agu.org/journals/ABS/2008/2008GL033463.shtml

  • Steele, M. and W. Ermold,’ Steric sea level change in the Northern Seas‘, J. Climate, 20(3), 403–417, 2007.

  • Zhang, J., and M. Steele, “Effect of vertical mixing on the Atlantic Water layer circulation in the Arctic Ocean”, J. Geophys. Res., 112, C04S04, doi:10.1029/2006JC003732,2007.

  • White, D., L. Hinzman, L. Alessa, J. Cassano, M. Chambers, K. Falkner, J. Francis, B. Gutowski, M. Holland, M. Holmes, H. Huntington, D. Kane, A. Kliskey, C. Lee, J. McClelland, B. Peterson, F. Straneo, M. Steele, R. Woodgate, D. Yang, K. Yoshikawa, T. Zhang,’ The Arctic Freshwater System: Changes and impacts’, Journal of Geophysical Research, 112, G04S54, doi:10.1029/2006JG000353, 2007.

  • Serreze, M. C., A. P. Barrett, A. J. Slater, M. Steele, J. Zhang and K. Trenberth,’ The large-scale energy budget of the arctic’, ”J. Geophys. Res., 112, D11122, doi:10.1029/2006JD008230, 2007.

  • Polyakov, I. V., et al., M. Steele, et al.,’ Observational program tracks Arctic Ocean transition to a warmer state’, EOS, Trans. Amer. Geophys. Union, 88(40) 398-399, 2007.