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Research News from the 2010 Field Season
07/23/2010 | Marilyn Sigman, Alaska SeaGrant/MAP
Tags: Arctic Ocean, communicating, The Bering Sea & the Aleutian Islands, Alaska Marine Ecosystem, Marine Ecosystem science

Bering Sea Project Research Cruises
Scientists onboard the R/B Thomas G. Thompson made the second of two spring/summer research cruises into the heart of the stormy Bering Sea from mid-June until mid-July. Blogs from Chief Scientist David Shull, photos, and more information about the project can be found on the project website.

More Bering Sea Project research is taking place on a cruise on NOAA's ship the Oscar Dyson to survey walleye pollock in the Bering Sea. Mapped position and meterological data are updated a few times a day in the NOAA ship tracker. Several teachers in the NOAA Teacher-at-Sea program will be onbard, cruising and blogging. Links to their blogs and more information about NOAA pollock research and management can be found on an NPRB project webpage. Walleye pollock support the largest single commercial fishery in the U.S., producing the largest catch of any one species inhabiting the 200-mile U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone. The largest concentrations of pollock occur in the eastern Bering Sea. As the most abundant midwater fish in the Bering Sea, pollock are also ecologically important as both a predators upon smaller fish and zooplankton, and as prey for larger fish, whales, and seabirds.

The Bering Sea Project, jointly funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the North Pacific Research Board (NPRB), is a multidisciplinary, $52-million study of the impacts of climate change on the Bering Sea ecosystem, the source of more than half of our nation's wild-caught seafood. This project brings together the NSF's Bering Ecosystem Study (BEST) and the NPRB's Bering Sea Integrated Ecosystem Research Program (BSIERP) to improve understanding of how the bountiful Bering Sea may respond to climate change, especially in light of changing seasonal sea ice.

Mapping the Arctic Seafloor
NOAA's ship Fairweather began a cruise in July in the Bering Straits around Cape Prince of Wales. For two months, it will analyze seafloor features, produce seafloor depth charts, and update nautical charts for an area of about 350 square miles in the Arctic. As the Arctic ice caps recede, new waters have become available for navigation, but these waters have not been charted for at least 50 years, and so their hazards are very little known.

ICESCAPE Research Cruise
Scientists made the first annual cruise for the NASA project "Impacts of Climate change on the Eco-Systems and Chemistry of the Arctic Pacific Environment (ICESCAPE)" during the period mid-June to mid-July in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. The central science question of this program is, “What is the impact of climate change (natural and anthropogenic) on the biogeochemistry and ecology of the Chukchi and Beaufort seas?”

While both of these regions are experiencing significant changes in the ice cover, scientists expect that their biogeochemical response will be quite different due to their distinct physical, chemical, and biological differences. Background on the project science, the 2010 cruise track and sampling stations, participating scientist, photos, and a cruise blog can be found on the project website.

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