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Dr. Lewis Shapiro, Part 1

Dr. Lewis "Lew" Shapiro was interviewed on May 1, 2014 by Karen Brewster at his office at the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Lew was interviewed because of his extensive career researching sea ice mechanics in northern Alaska, and because of his role in the project related to potential oil development of the Alaskan continental shelf whose interviews appear in the North Alaskan Sea Ice Project Jukebox and in the Historical References to Ice Conditions Along the Beaufort Sea Coast of Alaska (Scientific Report, Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks, 1979). In this interview, Lew talks about the motivation behind the interviewing project, the funding, and the staff working on it. He also talks about his scientific research studying sea ice dynamics, working on oil industry funded projects, and results of his research.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2013-25-25_PT.1

Project: Sea Ice in Northern Alaska
Date of Interview: May 1, 2014
Narrator(s): Dr. Lewis Shapiro
Interviewer(s): Karen Brewster
Transcriber: Joan O'Leary
Location of Interview:
Location of Topic:
Funding Partners:
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Coastal Marine Institute, North Pacific Research Board
Alternate Transcripts
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There is no slideshow for this person.

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Personal background

Coming to Alaska and getting involved with sea ice research and OCSEAP program

Early sea ice research on ice islands and studying different aspects of sea ice

Putting up a radar at Barrow to record the sea ice

Results of radar research and understanding ice movement and ice push-ups (ivu)

Popularity of sea ice research and working with experts

Getting funding from the oil industry and industry's interest in sea ice

Independence of research and oil industry's use of results

Industry application of understandings of ice mechanics and strength

History and explanation of the sea ice interviewing project in the 1970s

Local interest in the project in Barrow

Sea ice field research in Barrow to measure strength and mechanical properties

Building structures in the sea ice environment, and changes in the ice

Analyzing satellite imagery of the Beaufort Sea and Chukchi Sea

Ability to predict ice behavior and patterns, and effect of wind and current

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KAREN BREWSTER: So today is May 1, 2014. LEW SHAPIRO: Wow.

KAREN BREWSTER: And -- I know. Where did April go? And this is Karen Brewster and I'm here with Dr. Lew Shapiro in his office in the Geophysical Institute on the University of Alaska Fairbanks Campus in Fairbanks, Alaska.

And we'll be doing a little talking about his work with sea ice up in Barrow on the northern coast. Thank you, Lew.

LEW SHAPIRO: Quite welcome.

KAREN BREWSTER: Before we get into the meat of the sea ice stuff, maybe you can just give a little background about yourself personally, you know, when and where you were born.

LEW SHAPIRO: Oh, my gosh. I was born in Bronx, New York. You want my birthday too?

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, if you don’t mind. LEW SHAPIRO: October 23, 1934. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.

LEW SHAPIRO: Which makes me old.

KAREN BREWSTER: No. I don’t think so. Makes you seasoned. So what was your growing up like?

LEW SHAPIRO: Oh, I grew up in the Bronx as a kid in the East Bronx and went to school and so on. Went in the Army in 1953 -- fall of ’53.

I was a little too young to catch the Korean War, but I went in 1953, stayed in for four years. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: Got out in ’57 -- went to -- went to work in Arizona in a drilling and mining, but wound up with hepatitis back in New York and from there I went to college -- started school -- South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City.

I started there in the winter quarter at the end of 1957. Graduated from there in ’62. Met my wife while I was there -- my future wife.

Then went to the University of Minnesota to work on a Ph.D. -- started ’62. Took a long time to finish it because I went back to the School of Mines to South Dakota and worked there on research projects and teaching.

And finally finished in ’71, and finished the Ph.D. in ’71 and moved to Alaska immediately after. Came here and got here on July 1st I think it was or July -- well, probably the end of June in 1971.

KAREN BREWSTER: And what was your Ph.D. research -- LEW SHAPIRO: Geology.

KAREN BREWSTER: It was geology.

LEW SHAPIRO: Geology. Yeah, working on the Black Hills structural geology in the Black Hills in South Dakota.

Been here ever since.

KAREN BREWSTER: And why did you decide to come here?

LEW SHAPIRO: Well, for one thing I was looking for a job and so, you know, at that time there were not a great many jobs around.

But I came up here at a time when they were just starting into remote sensing and I had a done a little bit of that when I was in South Dakota, and so I sort of fit in right away with some of the things they were interested in.

But what I was really interested in was seismology and tectonics in geology.

But about three years into the time here the interest in sea ice started picking up and I was always interested in the idea of trying to think about or look at the mechanical properties in natural materials.

And so that got me interested in trying to do things in sea ice. And once you get into that, why it just sort of blossomed. It was the right time to get into it because the oil companies were interested. It was a huge amount of work going on.

OCSEAP Program started up then. That was looking to write -- well basically learn more about ice in the offshore environment of the Arctic.


LEW SHAPIRO: Oh, Outer Continental Shelf Environmental Assessment Program -- OCSEAP. And that was --

We had a big part of that program here that was run by Gunther Weller and Dave Norton. Gunther was the driving force behind that. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: He did a great job with it.

KAREN BREWSTER: And so that provided funding for research or --

LEW SHAPIRO: It was funding. Yeah, it was a lot -- it was a lot of funding because there was just this huge interest and a lot of different things to look at right away. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: There was -- I mean there'd been people working here for years and years before that, but not at that level of effort and not with the --

with the immediacy or issue with what people perceive as the immediate need to understand more about the environment -- about the ice environment, including engineering problems. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: Because everybody was going to go offshore and drill. And it was a scary sort of thing to think about. There'd been drilling some structures offshore in Cook Inlet -- KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: -- dealing with ice down there, but that’s nothing like the Arctic. The arctic environment is much more difficult in terms of ice.


LEW SHAPIRO: So it created this great need to learn an awful lot of practical sorts of things in a hurry. And at the same time you had to look -- worry about the long term because you're going to be drilling offshore and there's potential for spills and all sorts of environmental issues to look at.

Affects on wildlife and so on and the general environment and whatnot. So there was a lot of work to be done in a hurry. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: And that was what the OCSEAP Program did. It was a very broad program.

Interestingly, it didn’t have a sea ice component when it first started. I mean, people tried to tell BLM -- Bureau of Land Management were running it. They tried to -- and I think it was BLM at that time. Again, I --

They tried to tell them that they needed to understand something about ice, but they weren’t interested. They couldn’t do that. Until the summer of 1975, which was the year that the ice never went out.

KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. LEW SHAPIRO: The ice stayed very close to the shore all summer long.

And the oceanographers were going up there. The ships were going up and people were trying to do things, and they couldn’t get any place because the ice was in the way.

So I always tell people that if it hadn't -- if 1975 had been a light ice year, there wouldn’t be a sea ice -- there'd never have been a sea ice program. They wouldn’t have needed it.

Or they wouldn’t have -- KAREN BREWSTER: Right. LEW SHAPIRO: Realized that they needed it, but that drove it home to everybody that they needed to understand more about the sea ice.

And so that was really the instigated -- the thing that started an awful lot of the longer term sea ice -- KAREN BREWSTER: Huh. LEW SHAPIRO: Work up there.

KAREN BREWSTER: And so that -- that showed OCSEAP that -- that --

LEW SHAPIRO: It showed -- it just showed people that they needed to know it. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

LEW SHAPIRO: That there was more to it than that because they didn’t, you know, people didn’t understand it. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

LEW SHAPIRO: I mean, other than people who had been working up there for years. I mean, you know, people up there -- a lot of people have been out on T3 and studying ice islands and whatnot.

And there'd been a fair amount of work done up there, but never with the -- the level of effort that was needed and the continuity. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: And particularly looking at -- particularly at ice.

KAREN BREWSTER: Well, and I was wondering are they looking at it from a different perspective? Was the type of research being done on T3 and those ice islands -- LEW SHAPIRO: Uh-huh.

KAREN BREWSTER: -- were they looking at different aspects of the sea ice? LEW SHAPIRO: Oh, they weren't doing so much ice. They were using the ice as a platform -- KAREN BREWSTER: Yes.

LEW SHAPIRO: -- to do other things, but there were people that were looking at ice. I mean, Hal Payton who was on the staff here and Institute of Northern Engineering here, I think it was.

He'd worked on ice in Cook Inlet and he'd done work up there also. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: And so I mean there were, you know, people were doing things. It was just that -- that the people in the -- in BLM and the organizations that needed to know this stuff didn’t realize the things -- how much they needed to know. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: But I think the engineers and, you know, the oil company engineers might have understood -- you know, people who are going to have to design. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

LEW SHAPIRO: Knew they needed it.

KAREN BREWSTER: I was just thinking that it was the earlier days people were looking at different things related to the ice versus once -- LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: -- ’75 came along you looked at it from a different perspective. LEW SHAPIRO: Right.

KAREN BREWSTER: Cause wasn’t there the Ajax Project?

LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah, Ajax was also with, yeah, Ajax was earlier.

And that was again looking at, you know, large -- larger scale mechanics. But again I don’t think -- I don’t know that the --that the people in BLM appreciated that. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: I mean Ajax -- Ajax was run -- let’s see I think their first -- I don’t know if there are other people around of them.

Nobody here was more involved -- was involved in it and I was not involved in it. I was just there when -- KAREN BREWSTER: I can’t remember -- LEW SHAPIRO: -- they were doing it.

KAREN BREWSTER: I can’t remember the dates of it.

LEW SHAPIRO: Well, I think it was ’72 was the first one and then the main -- the main deployment I think was ’74 -- KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. LEW SHAPIRO: ’74 and ’75.

KAREN BREWSTER: And I can’t remember what it stands for? LEW SHAPIRO: Ajax. Arctic Ice -- KAREN BREWSTER: Dynamics. LEW SHAPIRO: Dynamics Joint Experiment. KAREN BREWSTER: Experiment, okay.

LEW SHAPIRO: No it -- KAREN BREWSTER: Norbert Untersteiner, wasn’t he --

LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah, Norbert did that. Norbert was the guy who organized. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

LEW SHAPIRO: No -- that was -- it was -- it was a very good program. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

LEW SHAPIRO: And again but it was -- what really took it off and they say was the -- was the fact that people who were trying to do these things for OCSEAP. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: Suddenly realized they couldn’t do it.

KAREN BREWSTER: So you started doing it with OCSEAP. So what was it that you started researching?

LEW SHAPIRO: Oh, just mainly -- well two things. We'd -- from Sea Grant by the way which was actually funded mainly by oil companies that was started in I don’t ’73 -- ’74.

We've had that little radar that was put up at Barrow. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: That was done by Bill Sackinger and Jim Rogers who were on the faculty -- staff here at the time.

And they put it up. So we were looking at the near shore stuff around Barrow and using the radar to look at what might be going on and close to shore.

And let’s see they dropped off -- when the OCSEAP program came along -- I took that over. Use the radar mainly just to monitor near shore things because we were interested in how the ice shoves -- ice pushes along the shore, ridging close to shore,

things like that --the sort of near shore dynamics that we could look at using that radar which only looked out about three miles. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh. LEW SHAPIRO: It was not particularly --

And we recorded this stuff on 35 millimeter film, single framing at every two and a half minutes or something. Photographing the radar screen every two and a half minutes. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: And then developing the film every -- we’d get the film back every three days and develop it, which we had a big lab downstairs here -- KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh. LEW SHAPIRO: -- that used to do that.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, I remember I've seen you showing some of that old footage. LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: And it was interesting and I wondered, you know, why -- how you guys came up with that. Nowadays everybody uses all this advanced technology. LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: But -- LEW SHAPIRO: Well, actually --

KAREN BREWSTER: -- back then there wasn’t all that.

LEW SHAPIRO: Well, it was actually Bill Sackinger and Rogers that -- that planned the thing and built it.

They actually put it up. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: They're both electrical engineers. And Sea Grant funded the initial one. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: And then I ran it when they -- when they dropped off I ran it under OCSEAP for five years or so, but mainly, you know, it was just kind take -- do the film, develop it and then catalog it.

And we tried to put together this little representative movie to show -- KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: -- what -- what we learned from it -- what you could see from it.

KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh. And so what did you learn? What could you see?

LEW SHAPIRO: Well, basically, you know, you could see -- we -- we picked up several instances of -- of ice push -- ice shoves.

KAREN BREWSTER: The Ivu in Inupiaq, yeah?

LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah, things like that. And offshore ridging and then some kind of interesting near shore dynamics stuff that was -- let me see if I can -- somewhere here now --

KAREN BREWSTER: So what was --

LEW SHAPIRO: No, I don’t have it. I was looking for a particular piece of paper that I had -- no, I took it downstairs, but it was just some -- some interesting combination of the ice moving in different directions close to shore, you know.

There were interesting things that turned up like that, plus --

KAREN BREWSTER: And what does that -- that ice moving in different directions like that, why was that new or what did it -- LEW SHAPIRO: We hadn’t seen it before.

KAREN BREWSTER: And what does -- what is -- how is that useful?

LEW SHAPIRO: Well, we didn’t know. As a matter of fact, I guess the reason I just pulled it out was we picked up --

somewhere in one of these reports there was a picture that I had sketched based on some of the radar stuff. And it showed ice coming in -- pack ice coming in close to shore and other ice running off -- along shore at a much higher rate parallel to the shore. KAREN BREWSTER: Huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: And we think we just saw something like that in the SAR radar from 2005 or something. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow.

LEW SHAPIRO: But on a much larger scale. So, you know, you never know.

But it was -- it's the same sort of geometric relationship between ice moving at different directions. And it seems to have maybe something like that showed up again. I don’t know.

We’ll find out eventually. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

LEW SHAPIRO: But -- and then we, as I say, we looked at near shore ice shoves and we came up with some scheme for thinking about mechanisms for how these things might work in the winter.

And that was -- goes into that Beaufort Sea -- one of the Beaufort Sea volumes. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: So, I mean, you know, it's just the usual sort of thing, you know. You see something unusual and you think about it for a while and eventually try and do something with it. KAREN BREWSTER: Well, and it's a --

LEW SHAPIRO: But it was all new I mean, you know -- KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

LEW SHAPIRO: -- looking at the radar stuff which is new. Nobody had ever seen anything like that before.

And so Bill and Jim wrote a paper about it, and it went into a symposium volume in 1974. And then basically they left it and I picked it up for the next five years. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: And we just ran it just to see what we could milk out of it.

KAREN BREWSTER: Well, it's interesting that you got so into sea ice when that wasn’t your background. LEW SHAPIRO: I --

KAREN BREWSTER: And how did you transition into -- LEW SHAPIRO: Well -- KAREN BREWSTER: -- understanding sea ice?

LEW SHAPIRO: At that -- at that time there was -- there was no place to learn sea ice per se, and in fact, for a long time that was always my impression given that people who came in to see who was doing sea ice were people who started out some place else.

So very few who actually had training in it. In fact, Willie Weeks was a geologist. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

LEW SHAPIRO: I don’t know if you've come across Willie’s name.

KAREN BREWSTER: I know his name, yeah.

LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah, Willie’s -- yeah, Willie's a geologist in geochemistry, in fact petrology, hard rock.

KAREN BREWSTER: And he's now known for ice.

LEW SHAPIRO: That's all he -- yeah, he went over into that.

There just weren’t many people in it, and so there were lots of opportunities to do things, and it was a lot of demand for it, too. So once you started doing something and got a little bit of a reputation as knowing something,

suddenly there were a lot of people knocking on the door.

KAREN BREWSTER: And then you didn’t have a choice. Then you became the sea ice guy.

LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah, well, yeah, but there were a number of people around and CRREL always was strong in that. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

LEW SHAPIRO: So, you know, Austin Kovacs was there. And I think it was mainly Austin and Willie at that time, but there were others too, but they were the main guys in sea ice.

And they were working -- they'd been working up at Thule in Greenland and other places. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: And so on. So there was a lot -- I mean there was a core of people around. It just suddenly everything blossomed during OCSEAP.

KAREN BREWSTER: Right. So you were in the right place at the right time.

LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah. Bill Hibler started I think the same time. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: And they were -- see there were -- there were people going to school in Dartmouth and they could go -- they could work through CRREL. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

LEW SHAPIRO: So I think that's where Hibler came through. I’m not sure. There were people -- KAREN BREWSTER: So I'm wondering -- LEW SHAPIRO: -- and Gordon Cox was another one.

KAREN BREWSTER: You were talking about how a lot of this funding came from the oil industry. They were interested in understanding ice and ice dynamics.

LEW SHAPIRO: They knew -- they knew they needed to know things. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: But then, you know, they were worried about permafrost -- there was perma -- some subsea permafrost. They were thinking about, you know, drilling offshore cause, you know, they could see from, I guess from Prudhoe from just their knowledge of the geology,

that this whole thing was going to extend, you know, that the whole Prudhoe Bay field could extend offshore -- that there would be offshore resources. And so they would -- they knew that they were going to have to go out and do something. So they were interested in learning about it. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: And that's where I think Sea Grant started. But once OCSEAP came along, then the government had to do things because they had they had to write these environmental impact statements and set the standards for offshore structures and whatnot.

And these were big thing. I mean at the time there was a lot of money in those, you know, well, you know, it doesn’t sound like big money now, but it was big money at the time. And there were really a lot of things to learn.

KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh. Some people might wonder how do you combine doing scientific research with doing work for the industry? LEW SHAPIRO: Well --

KAREN BREWSTER: How did you reconcile those two things?

LEW SHAPIRO: You were dealing with something that people didn’t know. And so whatever you did was new. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: It was just that there were people looking over your shoulder for it, you know, for the information as fast as you could get it.

But -- and they were interested in funding it. I mean they would fund it just to speed it up. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: We did work for the industry on -- and had separate projects going on at the same time that industry funded that were -- KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh. LEW SHAPIRO: Basically became public. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: I mean it was not, you know, they wouldn't let -- they just wanted information.

KAREN BREWSTER: So you felt you were able to still be independent. LEW SHAPIRO: Oh, yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: In your -- LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: -- work.

LEW SHAPIRO: Oh, they used to come up and I mean we had -- we had Exxon was up there. They would come up and spend time with us.

People from different companies come up and kind of look over your shoulder for a while. That was fine, I mean, you know. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: And we knew people in the industry that were -- And it was sort of almost encouraged, because part of the game was to learn what they needed. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: I mean it wasn’t just a question of, you know, of just the pure scientific interest in it. It was like, you know, what do we need to know and in particular what are we doing that we shouldn’t be doing in the sense that we didn’t understand a lot about their work.

And people were worried about drilling fluids, you know, and, you know, toxicity of drilling fluids or things like that. And we had no idea bec -- you know, we weren’t petroleum engineers and so you needed to talk to them and say how are you going to handle these things.

So there was a fair amount of interchange, but it wasn’t really -- I don’t see anything wrong with it at the time. I still don’t think there was. I mean it was basically they had -- they were about the same level that we were.

KAREN BREWSTER: Well, do you think some of the things you’ve found out helped them do things better? That they used your research in a good way?

LEW SHAPIRO: Well, yeah, but it worked both ways. I mean -- and then they jumped ahead of us. I mean they -- cause they can, you know, Exxon had -- at that time Exxon had really --

They had top notch people. Exxon and Shell both did, and but -- and they were -- they were interested in the Arctic, but Exxon in particular they had an engineering group there that would make a really good engineering faculty some place at a good university.

I mean they were Ph.D. engineers from good schools that were working on sea ice problems for a few years, but they did some big experimental programs that we eventually got. I mean, you know, I had access to some of it.

So I mean it was a lot of interchange. It wasn’t -- but it wasn’t anything that was -- anything under, you know, anything that you'd consider unethical. I mean it was just people trying to learn things. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

LEW SHAPIRO: They needed the information. Everybody needed it. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

LEW SHAPIRO: I mean if you had the responsibility for writing regulation that’s a really -- something that’s really in the public interest.

KAREN BREWSTER: Right. Well, and that's why I was wondering if some of the things you found -- if you -- LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah, but not -- KAREN BREWSTER: Have you -- did you -- LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Well, that -- that research -- LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: -- helped people understand. Is there any way you can connect that with oh then, oh then -- oh yeah the industry took that information and did A, B or C. In a positive way.

LEW SHAPIRO: There was -- if you go over to the museum and look at this -- this thing on under the, you know, this exhibit of under the ice. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: Life Under the Ice -- remember that? KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: Did you see that over there? Okay. It's over in the museum.

KAREN BREWSTER: In the old museum?

LEW SHAPIRO: Well, in the -- yeah, well, it's in the new part. It's in the old part of the museum -- KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

LEW SHAPIRO: But there's -- I’m not sure if it's still there, but -- KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, I don’t know. LEW SHAPIRO: It was there a few years ago. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, I don’t know. Okay.

LEW SHAPIRO: But there's something there. A guy by the name of Ken Dutton did it. He was a graduate student here.

Don Schell. They were working on these sorts of things and, you know, it led to a lot of understanding of, you know, these -- these

what did they call them? Well, they were just place -- locate places under the ice where there were bare rocks and all sorts of animals living on these things that were not known to exist before. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: And that had a lot of effect on where they, you know, where they could drill and how they operated -- KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh. LEW SHAPIRO: -- offshore and so on. It was their --

So I mean there was a lot of interchange back and forth and I -- as I say, I never felt there was anything particularly wrong with it.

KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh. Well, what are some of the things you did research on that you thought brought out some new information?

LEW SHAPIRO: Oh, just some of the stuff on strength, mechanical properties, the way the ice deformed.

I mean it had influence on some of the program -- on one of the programs I think that was done.

And we sort of showed some ways of doing things and testing.

And then it was funny, one of these big shoves that came up on the beach. We were working along this thing and realized that depending on the slope of the beach the way the ice reacted when it hit the beach was different.

When it was steeper, it tended, you know -- certain -- it went to a certain angle and I don’t even remember what it was, but the ice breakup whereas at a lower angle it would come sliding up.

And when Exxon first started their -- designing gravel islands they used that -- that angle -- KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: -- as the -- as the preferred slope for the outside of the gravel island so that the ice would break up as it started to come up rather than slide.

And, of course, since then, you know, after that they learned how to make the slopes even steeper by sand bagging, reinforcing and so on. So there were other ways of doing this stuff.

But anyway at the time it was kind of interesting. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

LEW SHAPIRO: In fact, I was kind of surprised to have people -- because I was at this seminar, I said where'd you get that number from? And they said from you. And I didn't know it.

KAREN BREWSTER: Well, and it's funny I mean when you talk about the angle of the beach -- LEW SHAPIRO: Uh-huh.

KAREN BREWSTER: And how the ice is going to climb up it. LEW SHAPIRO: Uh-huh. Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: But in an Ivu -- intuitively it makes sense to me that -- LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: That, oh, those barrier islands out there that have such a low angle -- LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: The ice is really just going to go right up. LEW SHAPIRO: It does. KAREN BREWSTER: Versus the --

LEW SHAPIRO: We’ve seen that happen. It goes right across them.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, versus a steep embankment. It's going to hit.

LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah, but that’s not -- yeah --

KAREN BREWSTER: I mean it sort of seems intuitive, but --

LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah, sure, sure. Well, the thing is we had enough --

KAREN BREWSTER: It's great that you were able to prove it.

LEW SHAPIRO: Well, we had -- we had a number. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

LEW SHAPIRO: Where the beach -- when the angle was over 30 degrees or something like that it would break. If it was less than that, it would slide up.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. That’s cool.

LEW SHAPIRO: And we saw it just, you know, just by going along the beach after a big shove and doing the measurements. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. I mean that --

LEW SHAPIRO: So, I mean, you know, things like that -- KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

LEW SHAPIRO: It's kind of trivial at the time, but it was -- but it was important.

KAREN BREWSTER: But also maybe that's what science does is -- LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: -- there's something intuitive that seems to make sense, but you go and you prove it. LEW SHAPIRO: Uh-huh. KAREN BREWSTER: You do this research and --

LEW SHAPIRO: Well, it's just an observation. I didn’t prove anything. KAREN BREWSTER: Well --

LEW SHAPIRO: You know, I mean I didn’t do anything with it. I mean, you know. I never did work it out enough to show that that issue really happened.

But the observation was enough and that was enough for them. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: I mean but, you know -- somebody eventually worked out -- maybe -- well, in fact, Exxon had the guys in Calgary.

They were much -- they were also busy -- the Canadians. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: And ESSO Canada had a couple of really good guys working there, too.

Yeah, there were people up there that were doing a lot, too. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: I mean, you know, just talking about it reminds me of them. And that's why I'm kind of hesitant about doing this stuff because there's a lot of people that I haven’t thought about in years. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

LEW SHAPIRO: That all of a sudden I come on, yeah, I should have mentioned something about --

KAREN BREWSTER: Well, I mean those of us who on my end who do this kind of recording we know it's not just one person. LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: And it's always a team and --

LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah, well just I was just going to say -- KAREN BREWSTER: Just talking about -- LEW SHAPIRO: -- just talking about it reminded me of a whole -- KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

LEW SHAPIRO: -- of a whole series of things that were done by -- KAREN BREWSTER: Right. LEW SHAPIRO: Other people that I -- that I know.


LEW SHAPIRO: But I just, you know --

KAREN BREWSTER: Well, yeah, you don’t think about them.

LEW SHAPIRO: You don’t think about them until we just talking about it now and I say gee I should have given what’s her name credit for doing that.

KAREN BREWSTER: Well, it's interesting that a lot of your work in those days in the 70’s it was these ice shoves -- LEW SHAPIRO: Uh-huh.

KAREN BREWSTER: And nowadays it seems more people are talking about ice break offs and break outs.

LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah. Well, that was something you could, you know, you can look at that now and then we didn’t really have much way of doing things with.

We tried, but there was -- just wasn’t much -- much to work with.

KAREN BREWSTER: In terms of what?

LEW SHAPIRO: Well, their radar -- the radar's better now. They got better range.

Get longer term observations in fact -- KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh. LEW SHAPIRO: The whole reason for this -- for these interview things the way that came about --

KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, the historical references -- LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: To the -- LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah, that stuff. KAREN BREWSTER: -- Beaufort Sea coast, yeah.

LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah, the way that came about was there was a big mee -- I’m trying to remember what it was. In the winter, I think of ’77 or ’78 at Barrow.

And we had the whole cluster of OCSEAP investigators. I mean we filled up NARL.

There were guys there from the industry. There were seven or eight guys from the -- people from the industry. There were government people there.

I mean just the scientists working at OCSEAP. Plus industry engineers. And we were up there for three days locked into that place. And we had a lot of people. There was 80 or 90 people there. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow.

LEW SHAPIRO: And three to a room. Everything was jammed up and people arguing all night long about this and that and the other thing.

And as I say the industry was there, too. And there were a bunch of local guys came in and they were complaining that well here we’re talking all about ice and you don’t know anything about it. We know -- we know a lot about it because we've been dealing with this for a long time.

And so what we didn’t have was any kind of a record of what goes on near shore. How far back can you go, you know? How often do these big ice shoves take place?

Do you ever get -- does the ice ever go out real close to shore in the middle of the winter? You know, stuff like that. We didn’t know things like that. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: You know, but you need to know that if you were going to plan operations and so it's the sort of thing --

So the idea was that -- I went to Gunther and I was, you know, I talked to these guys and they were really angry and I go -- I don’t want to put names on them because -- KAREN BREWSTER: No.

LEW SHAPIRO: Because I think I remember a few but I don’t -- I’m not sure I have the right names so I think I’ll skip that part.

But anyway, you know, we were talking to them and they were pretty upset about this and pretty adamant that they knew things that we didn’t know.

And so I went to Gunther and I said why don’t we try to do this little interview thing. You know, do this thing and see if we can talk to some of the old timers and see if -- see if they can remember things that we can -- that will be useful and give us some, you know, kind of push the historical record back a little bit. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: Beyond the last three or four years since people have been, you know, regularly sitting here looking at this stuff.

And so we put this thing together. Gunther came up with the funds for it, and they wrote a little budget. The budget included our first tape recorder. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

LEW SHAPIRO: And hired Kenny Toovak. Put him on it. Ron Metzner was the guy who did it cause he was up there a lot. You know, he was there all the time during our field seasons and I was in and out.

I mean I’d be here -- I’d be up at three or four or five days at a time and then he’d be up there. He was up there continuously. And so he was going to do some of it and Kenny was going to do some.

And eventually we got enough money to do the thing one year. I think it produced I don’t know five or six interviews the first year. And then we did it for one more year after that.

And we tried to find people who had interesting things to say and send Kenny -- in a couple of cases Kenny went out by himself. I remember there was somebody at Anaktuvuk Pass who'd run dogs back and forth along the coast for years back in the 20’s and earlier.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, that Elijah Kakinya.

LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, you know Kenny went up there to talk to him, you know. We'd send him up there and that's the way it got done.

We did two years of it and then, like I say, we, you know, Kenny did the transliterations of the -- and we wrote it up and that was it.

KAREN BREWSTER: Because the interviews that Kenny did, he spoke with the people in Inupiaq. LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah, yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: So then you needed it in English, right?

LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah, but even -- even then he, you know, some of the others they talked in -- they did some of it in Inupiaq, too I guess. I don’t know. I don’t remember all of it.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, some of the interviews are all in Inupiaq and then some are in English. LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: And I’m guessing the ones that maybe Ron did maybe were more of the English ones.

LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah. I’m not sure how much he -- I thought Kenny was at most of those, I think.

KAREN BREWSTER: Well, they may have done some together. I don’t know exactly either.

LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah, I don’t remember any of it.

KAREN BREWSTER: But I do know there were some that are a hundred percent Kenny and -- LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah, anyway --

KAREN BREWSTER: -- other person in Inupiaq.

LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah. So anyway, but everything we got was written up in those little reports. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: And then as I say the tapes from that eventually went to -- went to the library. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

LEW SHAPIRO: And I think it was -- as I say, I think it was Edna MacLean who wanted them because she wanted to look for some of the older words. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh. LEW SHAPIRO: So --

KAREN BREWSTER: And then how was that project received by the local community? Did that make --

LEW SHAPIRO: We tried to send it back to them and then well, of course, they picked it up right away and started doing it themselves. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: And so that that started them up there. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: But -- and we, you know, we lost track of it after that because basically they wanted to run it themselves. They didn’t want us around anymore.

KAREN BREWSTER: So they started doing their own interview project?

LEW SHAPIRO: Well, they would -- they -- I guess they published something. It was a book somewhere that had one of our interviews in it and they didn’t mention where they got it from. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh!

LEW SHAPIRO: I think they mentioned -- it was the first one.

KAREN BREWSTER: Huh. Well, it is true that once the borough was formed they had their -- LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: Inupiat History, Language and Culture Commission and they did a lot of historic --

LEW SHAPIRO: They -- they started picking it up. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

LEW SHAPIRO: And at that point we were going to try and do something else and basically -- I have a vague recollection of that.

I don’t recall what -- what it was about, but we wanted to try and do something and they didn’t want us involved in it.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. Oh, I think I know. I -- they did lots of historic cultural reports on all kinds of different subjects. LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: They didn’t do it on sea ice per se. LEW SHAPIRO: No. KAREN BREWSTER: They did it on all kinds of things. LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: They did do one about the history of people who lived and traveled along the Beaufort Sea coast. LEW SHAPIRO: I don’t know. I know -- KAREN BREWSTER: Which may be is -- LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: Cause it would be some of the same area that your --

LEW SHAPIRO: It might -- it might have been. I don’t remember, but anyway I remember -- I remember being at one meeting at a village somewhere at a house in Browerville where we talked about this stuff and --

but they weren’t interested in having us participate at all. We could have put -- we could have put some money into it. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

LEW SHAPIRO: We could have, you know, cause we had a little -- we could have gotten a little more, but they weren’t interested and so we just dropped it and that was the end of it.

So I never did any more with it than that after that, and once we got those reports done that was the end of it.

KAREN BREWSTER: And do you know if the industry ever did anything with these reports that useful to?

LEW SHAPIRO: I'm sure they were read.

KAREN BREWSTER: If it was useful to anybody?

LEW SHAPIRO: No idea. Never get any feedback from it. I mean they had -- they had their own libraries and their own interests and their own things that they talked about internally. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: And, you know, you might meet somebody and informally talk about it, but that was all.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. So tell me Ron Metzner, he worked for you?

LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah, Ron was a graduate student. Well, see he'd finished his Masters and he was working on getting a Teacher’s Certificate.

So he worked for me up at NARL . He was up there for about three months a year.

Well, I think more than that. We would normally go up there in January. The earliest we could get -- hope to get out on the ice was usually some time in January. KAREN BREWSTER: Huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: And we worked -- we’d put a little -- pull a wannagan out on the ice a few hundred feet off shore and that was our -- that was basically our lab. KAREN BREWSTER: Huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: And then everything we did were experiments breaking ice. But on the -- just around that. We used that space. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: We used that lab as a -- used that wannagan as a, you know, like an eight feet by sixteen. It would be about the size of this room here, something like that or maybe a little bigger.

KAREN BREWSTER: So a wannagan was like a shed on tracks.

LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah, a little shed on tracks. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

LEW SHAPIRO: And they’d pull it out there as soon as they could get it out, which was usually some time mid-January to late January when it would -- they would say when it was safe. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh,

LEW SHAPIRO: And so they would pull it out and then we just set up in there and used that for -- for our lab space.

And then worked on samples of ice that we cut outside -- just outside the shed. So --

KAREN BREWSTER: You hopefully didn’t cut so much you still had stable ice around you.

LEW SHAPIRO: Oh, well we were -- we were trying to break blocks of ice that were about two feet -- one by -- one by one by two feet. That was the size we worked with.

And we were breaking those to measure strength and properties and so on. Trying to learn how to do it -- it was always a problem.

KAREN BREWSTER: And so what did -- what did that tell you?

LEW SHAPIRO: Well, it gave us strength, mechanical properties, ideas about behavior of ice.

Sea ice is a kind of an interesting -- well all materials do it, you know, they'll creep at certain parts of their range and other parts they're just very elastic. Break very quickly. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: So it's just trying to establish the general range of properties that you're likely to meet in the real world.

KAREN BREWSTER: Does that relate to the Inupiat talk about this Piqaluyak, which is the kind of the older -- what they call fresh water ice? LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah, yeah, well --

KAREN BREWSTER: It's sort of -- the salt has leeched out and they say it shatters real easily.

LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah, yeah, it's -- it's much more brittle once you get the salt out of the ice, but until you get the salt out -- until the salt gets out, if it's going to do it, the ice has a certain -- has a easier capability to bend -- well to flow.

Well, it doesn’t really do that, but it gives the impression of flowing. It's like -- you ever play around with silly putty?


LEW SHAPIRO: Okay. If you yank it real fast it breaks. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: And in fact if you break it and look at the surface what you see is something that looks very much like a piece of broken glass. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh, cause it's --

LEW SHAPIRO: It's very brittle. KAREN BREWSTER: Is it silicon? LEW SHAPIRO: No. KAREN BREWSTER: No, it's --

LEW SHAPIRO: It's because it's very -- if you break it -- if you pull it really fast it breaks.

It'll -- it breaks like a brittle material. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: But if you leave it in one place and just set it on the corner of a table here, it'll flow over time. It'll just run down the side.

KAREN BREWSTER: Or if you pull it very slowly.

LEW SHAPIRO: Pull it very slowly. So the idea is that the properties and the way it responds to load depends on the rate the load is applied. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.

LEW SHAPIRO: And then you -- on top of that you can add in temperature effects and structural effects and so on, you know, depending on which direction you do this in because the ice has directional properties as well. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, it does?

LEW SHAPIRO: Sea ice, yeah, has very strong directional properties. KAREN BREWSTER: Huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: The top of an ice sheet is -- top of a sea ice sheet is just a bunch of massive random crystals. By the time you get down, you know, three, four feet down into it everything is lined up in the same direction and it's very, very anisotropic.

So, it has a lot of different properties depending just as you go down through it. KAREN BREWSTER: Huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: And, of course, the temperature changes as you go down through cause the top is at air temperature. The bottom is at water temperature, which is not freezing. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

LEW SHAPIRO: And so you have all of these sort of variables that are potential areas that will pile on top of each other.

And it makes the material difficult to work with.

And that's what the engineers have to contend with, see, is -- KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: You know is ice in various states, so --They have to take account of all of these things.

KAREN BREWSTER: And so different months of the year when there is ice present it makes a difference?

LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah, different, yeah sure. The age of the ice. Thickness, the age and there're just so many variables in it. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: That -- what they’re looking at is always eliminating case of some sort. They want a structure that's going to stand.

And the way they want to do that is, you know, you don’t want big chunks of ice just banging into the sides. So you want to figure out a way to make them -- make the ice fail for example or pile it up before it gets to the structure.

There're all sorts of engineering considerations. KAREN BREWSTER: Huh. Interesting.

LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah. So it -- it's a difficult material to work with and that's what makes the environment difficult.

And so I mean they can overpower it. A gravel island that's done properly just overpowers it. There's no way the ice is going to have much effect, but at the time that they were even thinking about gravel islands, they knew that they would freeze part way down.

You know, you could -- They’d get saturated. Water gets down into them and they freeze and the fear was always that somehow or other the top of it might freeze and you’d wind up with a great big hockey puck. You know, that could -- No really. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

LEW SHAPIRO: That would get pushed. There was actually concern for a while. KAREN BREWSTER: Huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: That, you know, things like that could happen. So and nobody really knew.

So it was just, you know, it was very fundamental stuff that you had to learn along the way. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

LEW SHAPIRO: Will Harrison down here and Tom Osterkamp did a lot of work on subsea permafrost. KAREN BREWSTER: Huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: Cause there is permafrost under the sea. KAREN BREWSTER: I didn’t know that.

LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah, sure. There's permafrost off shore. KAREN BREWSTER: Huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: And so, you know, you put a structure out there it's the same thing as permafrost under a house here in Fairbanks. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

LEW SHAPIRO: You could have the same sort of problems. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

LEW SHAPIRO: Or -- or particularly not so much that with pipelines, subsea pipelines, and things like that. KAREN BREWSTER: You get that melting and --

LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah. There're lots of things that could happen. So it's just a difficult environment and nobody knew much about it. I mean maybe these things aren’t that much a concern now,

but at that time nobody knew what the concerns really were.

KAREN BREWSTER: Well, and I would think now the environment is different now. LEW SHAPIRO: Uh-huh.

KAREN BREWSTER: Certainly the sea ice environment we all know is different and is changing so some of -- LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: -- the strength and dynamics you were looking at now may be behaving differently.

LEW SHAPIRO: Well, I don’t know about that. I’m not sure if that’s the case or not. It's just that the dominate thing would be that, you know, you can’t really say.

You know, there's differences in the history in the sense of age of the ice. I don’t know. I --

KAREN BREWSTER: Well, I’m thinking about the, you know, people say the ice is thinner now or there's no longer these big pieces of multi-year ice.

LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah, that -- well, I’m not sure that there're not coming back. KAREN BREWSTER: Does that change how it'd be-- how the ice reacts?

LEW SHAPIRO: Well, that’s a very different -- it's a difficult thing cause it's a scale effect.

In other words, these multi-year flows -- I mean these things can be, you know, 50 kilometers across. And that’s one big chunk of ice. I mean it's an infinite ice sheet as far as you’re concerned. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

LEW SHAPIRO: If you’re sitting on a structure and this thing is coming at you.

On the other hand, you know, if you got a bunch of multi-year ice it would be small pieces or something frozen into a bunch of first year ice, it’s a different material. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: And if you just got a sheet of first year ice that's a few weeks old versus one that's three months old or something, it's a different material.

So you kind of have to -- what the engineers are thinking about is they want to know what’s the worst possible case. and that’s what they have to worry about.

But on the other hand you don’t want to overdo it because when you start buildings, you know, you put a structure out or something and, of course, you know, X number of dollars if you want to increase the safety factor by a factor of, you know, 1.2 or 1.5 or something, you can be increasing it by, you know, the cost of the thing by twenty, thirty, forty, fifty percent.

And when you're dealing with those kinds of numbers, those are huge numbers. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

LEW SHAPIRO: I mean I don’t know if you -- if you're aware, you know, but when you get a big hurricane down in the Gulf , they lose -- rigs disappear. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

LEW SHAPIRO: Okay. The reason why is because they design these things as a statistical probability, the physical chance that they’re going to lose a rig in a hurricane.

If you built every rig that goes out there to sustain the, you know, the worst possible hurricane, you go broke, you know. It's incredibly expensive.

So instead what they do is they design rigs that they get enough -- they know they get enough warning when the hurricane's coming that you can just shut them down, close everything off on the mud line, and get everybody off.

And then hope it's going to be there when they get back. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: And that turns out to be economically the way to do these things, okay?

KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh. But in the Arctic -- LEW SHAPIRO: But you can’t do it in the Arctic.

KAREN BREWSTER: Cause you don’t know -- you don’t have a forecast if there's an ice push up coming.

LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah, and also the cost is so much greater of an individual structure. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

LEW SHAPIRO: At least that’s, you know, I’m going back. Now this is 25, 30 years ago. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. Right. LEW SHAPIRO: That I’m talking about.

KAREN BREWSTER: Well, and that’s why I was saying that the -- LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: -- environment and the types of ice conditions they're dealing with now --

LEW SHAPIRO: And the structure and the types of structures. KAREN BREWSTER: Right -- are different.

LEW SHAPIRO: When they started those. Yeah, so, I mean, the engineers have -- they’ve moved a lot further.

KAREN BREWSTER: Everybody keeps moving. The science is changing and the engineering changes as -- LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah, that’s true. KAREN BREWSTER: -- the environment is changing. LEW SHAPIRO: Sure. Sure.

KAREN BREWSTER: You know, you have to all keep up with that. LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: And that’s why I say, you know, it seems that all that ice shoves and push up events that you studied -- LEW SHAPIRO: Uh-huh.

KAREN BREWSTER: It seems like they’re not happening as much now.

LEW SHAPIRO: Oh, yeah, now they're happening more. KAREN BREWSTER: Are they?

LEW SHAPIRO: Oh, yeah, yeah. It's more active. That’s one of the things that they’ll say is that the ice is -- is more active.

Now I don’t, you know, I don’t keep track of it anymore now and I don’t do those things -- I’m not -- not the statistics that way. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: But I’ve been looking for the life of -- ever since oh I don’t know 2002, 2003 we've had these projects with BLM or for -- from -- on looking at ice conditions in the Beaufort Sea and the Chukchi Sea.

Because they have to write rep -- you know, information just to write regulations for offshore structures, you know, again for these -- for these lease sales that they’ve had up there. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: You know, they’ve sold -- they’ve sold leases in the eastern Beaufort Sea and off the Chukchi coast of Alaska. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

LEW SHAPIRO: And so they need to know what’s going on. The industry has put money into that, too. It's kind of joint government industry programs, you know, and this is an example of what I mean.

They need to write regulations and everybody needs the same information. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: So they’ve gone cooperatively on some of it.

But I’ve been looking at -- I’ve been -- we collect every -- I've been looking mainly at the AVHR stuff -- NOAA satellites.

KAREN BREWSTER: AVHR's, okay. Right.

LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah, I’ve been looking at those and I’ve -- I’ve spent I don’t know several years now -- that’s what I’ve been doing. I mean I come in just --

KAREN BREWSTER: You come and look at your computer here in the office?

LEW SHAPIRO: That’s -- that’s an AVHR picture from this April this year. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: I was just sort of flipping down through those when you came in.

But, you know, look -- I’ve been looking at these things now and I did one study on just the Chukchi Sea and then one of them on the Beaufort.

KAREN BREWSTER: And so what are you looking for? What are these satellite -- LEW SHAPIRO: Looking for patterns -- KAREN BREWSTER: -- images tell you?

LEW SHAPIRO: Well, I’m looking for patterns of deformation. The way the ice moves around.

Lead patterns. How frequently they form. What they look like. General characteristics of ice motion that you can get off these.

And I’ve looked at, well, 20 years worth of data. The whole time -- KAREN BREWSTER: Wow.

LEW SHAPIRO: -- that we've been collecting this stuff. Probably 200, 250 days a year when the ice is there. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow.

LEW SHAPIRO: I look at one picture for every day. One picture separately for the Chukchi. One picture for the Beaufort.

And it comes to something like 10,000 pictures. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh. LEW SHAPIRO: That I’ve looked at. Which --

KAREN BREWSTER: Well, makes me wonder, so what have you learned? What have --

LEW SHAPIRO: Well, it's kind of overwhelming, but no the idea is just I can -- I can identify patterns. They repeat. There're certain laws -- certain geometric factors about the nature of the coast and so on that tell you the way this thing is, you know,

that give you some ways to interpret sort of things that happen. Like for example ice getting shoved out through Bering Strait. KAREN BREWSTER: Huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: You know that’s a feature that everybody knows -- a lot of people know about it. It's common.

But there are other things that happen up there as well. And so you look at them and it turns out that there are even interesting things about something like the Bering Strait these arches pushing -- the ice pushing out through the Bering Strait.

There are interesting things people didn’t realize that you pick up just by looking -- because you look at the picture every day.

For example, the arch'll start growing and it'll suddenly veer off into -- into a different direction. I mean just breaking ice and suddenly it's gone off in a different direction because it turns and it breaks off in the direct -- and it tends to expand in the direction that the pack ice is coming from.

So there'll be times when the arch will grow up to here. Sometimes it'll go straight across the Chukchi. Sometimes it bends and goes up along the coast.

KAREN BREWSTER: And that's happening because of how the ice is pushing it?

LEW SHAPIRO: No, it's because of the way the ice reacts. It's just the mechanics of the ice --

KAREN BREWSTER: So it's got nothing to do with the winds and the currents? LEW SHAPIRO: Well, I mean it's -- it's -- well those are what's driving the pack ice. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.

LEW SHAPIRO: And this is just simply the way the ice breaks. It's simply a mechanical pattern. And it's understood.

KAREN BREWSTER: And so by looking at all these patterns does that give you some confidence in being able to predict?

Like oh I see this happening, I'm gonna guess it's now going to do this in a couple days.

LEW SHAPIRO: No, because that depends on the weather. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.

LEW SHAPIRO: But if you will look at these things long enough what you’ll find is that you're going to see the same things over and over and over again.

And that’s because what doesn’t change -- the coastlines are the same. You get fastice along the edge so the shapes them -- the shapes of the coastlines with respect to the ice don’t change.

Ice grows every year and it goes away every year. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: And it followed -- I mean, you have to freeze it and you have to -- you have to melt it away. You have to get rid of it.

Weather patterns that go across there are fairly consistent. That’s why you have prevailing winds. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: And so you’re dealing with a sort of -- of a system where you have fixed boundaries or relatively fixed boundaries.

Currents probably we don’t under -- I don’t know how much we understand about those in detail the way, you know, to interpret something like that.

But the winds are pretty consistent from year to year. I mean the weather patterns go across. The winds are not always the same, but that's why you talk about things like prevailing winds.

KAREN BREWSTER: Right. The other thing I’m wondering, too, is well you say you know there's always ice, but now in some places, you know, ice doesn’t form till later in the season and therefore -- LEW SHAPIRO: But it's --

KAREN BREWSTER: It's thinner than it used to be along the -- along the coastline. LEW SHAPIRO: Well, yeah, yeah, until you --

KAREN BREWSTER: And so is that affecting those patterns?

LEW SHAPIRO: I don’t -- I can’t see that. I can’t tell that, because I don’t have a way of measuring that. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: I mean, you know, it's all in my head, so to speak. I have to, you know, I have to go back and, you know, look at a picture, look at a series and say I’ve seen some of that before -- where? And I have to go back and -- KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

LEW SHAPIRO: And sift through, you know, five years of pictures or something before I see oh there it is the same thing.

But you can see them. Some of them are just almost identical from year to year. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: I mean literally the same things over and over again. But not every year. I mean it may be five years apart. It just depends when things are right at the right time of year. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: And the ice conditions are right and the weather systems are just right.

KAREN BREWSTER: Well, an example I don’t know if you've seen it. I just say, I don’t know -- I don’t know what kind of imagery. I don’t know satellite versus blah, blah, blah, but there's this big ice break off event in Barrow sometime in the last couple days.

LEW SHAPIRO: It's probably -- KAREN BREWSTER: That happened last year, too. LEW SHAPIRO: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: You know. (Noise) Swoop. It all -- LEW SHAPIRO: Well, it has -- well it has to. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: I mean if you stop and think about it -- it really -- it really should.

The only question is, you know, for somebody to spend enough time looking at these things to say okay this is a typical sort of pattern. This is what happens. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: And this is the way this thing works and there are certain ways you can develop this and so on.

Certain steps that you can go through to get to it.

KAREN BREWSTER: I'm just wondering if those patterns are changing?

LEW SHAPIRO: No way to measure them. I mean I can’t measure them. I mean basically where I am now I suppose that if -- well, it takes somebody that’s better with these machines than I am.

And has better, you know, more access to it and more time to worry about it. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

LEW SHAPIRO: I mean somebody had to do the first step. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

LEW SHAPIRO: I mean I can show you that they change -- that they’re there.

KAREN BREWSTER: Well, didn’t you also do something -- one of the first people to use Landsat images, as well. LEW SHAPIRO: Oh.

KAREN BREWSTER: What was that about? LEW SHAPIRO: Well, that was -- KAREN BREWSTER: I don’t know the difference between --

LEW SHAPIRO: Well, Landsat was the first -- first -- first of the satellites that -- let me see -- let me just --