NOAA C&GC Alum and Ice Expert Christopher Horvat Awarded U.S. Patent

Jun 24, 2024


Chris Horvat - NOAA CGC alumni

NOAA Climate & Global Change alumni Dr. Christopher Horvat secures a U.S. Patent for his work with ice floes.

Ice expert Christopher Horvat studies ice floes in the Arctic – the large, discreet masses of floating ice that are increasing in numbers because of a changing climate in the polar regions. As a result, these floating chunks of ice can be damaging to ships navigating the Arctic waters.

Horvat is a senior lecturer in physics at the University of Auckland and an assistant professor (research) at Brown University; however, his interest in ice floes extends back to his tenure as a postdoctoral fellow in 2017-2019 in the NOAA Climate and Global Change Postdoctoral Program administered by UCAR | CPAESS.

He was recently awarded a patent by the U.S. government for developing a novel “method to determine floe sizes, and more particularly, a method to determine floe sizes based on remote sensing ground track data.” (Patent No.: US 11,940,273 B2)

The patent is an outgrowth of a 2018 paper published by Horvat while a NOAA CGC fellow and that extended his doctoral research. 

“It basically is a method for using altimetry to automatically detect the size and shape of pieces of sea ice in the Arctic/Southern Ocean and use some limited information that those platforms can provide to back out [or determine] the standard size of those pieces of ice,” says Horvat.

The method has practical applications, too. The idea, he adds, was that this method could be commercially useful for those engaged in shipping in the Arctic who need real-time forecasts about sea ice consistency beyond just its overall presence to help minimize ship accidents.

In addition, because polar climate systems are changing – influencing the formation and melting of ice – it is important to continue to observe and model ice behavior to understand its impact.

Congratulations Chris! Learn more about Horvat’s work here.

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