Research cruise gets rare possibility to analyze Bering and Chukchi seas

A boat on icy water.
The Sikuliaq travels north in the Chukchi Sea in November 2021. (Picture courtesy of Seth Danielson)

The last exploration cruise of 2021 in the Bering and Chukchi seas arrived by the area in November. Scientists on board observed a range of maritime mammals, observed sea ice expansion in true-time and found evidence of a healthier ecosystem irrespective of warmer h2o temperatures from the summertime.

Seth Danielson, a professor with the College of Alaska Fairbanks College or university of Fisheries and Ocean Science, led the cruise as main scientist. The initial time measurements ended up recorded from the Bering Strait in November was in 1960, in accordance to Danielson.

“After 1960 there weren’t any other cruises that I’m conscious of, in the thirty day period of November, right until 2011. And that was a cruise that Karen Ashton led. Because Karen’s cruise in 2011, there have been a couple far more that have long gone north in November,” Danielson mentioned. “A couple of them did take care of to sample some stations on the shelf (of the Chukchi Sea), the way we did. They did that in quite heat decades.”

This cruise observed a a lot colder November in significantly of the Bering Strait and much better sea ice circumstances than in recent several years.

Danielson introduced his preliminary conclusions throughout a Strait Science presentation on Dec. 2 hosted by UAF’s Northwest campus. He was joined on board the Sikuliaq by lots of other researchers, including Catherine Berchok of the Alaska Fisheries Science Heart Maritime Mammal Lab.

“I was stunned by how couple of bowheads and how several gray whales and humpbacks there have been out there,” Berchok explained.

Alaska Sea Grant’s Homosexual Sheffield remarked that nearby observations from throughout the area supported Berchok’s assessment much too.

Berchok was observing maritime mammals from the bridge of the ship on a common basis through the nine-working day voyage. The research workforce headed north from Seward on Nov. 7 and stopped by Nome on their return around Nov. 16.

Numerous measurements from the Sikuliaq structured in shade-coded graphs by Seth Danielson and study crew from their November research cruise. (Screenshot from Strait Science presentation/YouTube)

They witnessed approximately a 20% or more enhance in sea ice extent though in the Chukchi Sea in the course of their trip, in accordance to Danielson.

“Why we at any time bought a situation like this exactly where it is in close proximity to freezing at the area and warm near the bottom (of the sea). And the only factor I can think of is that it was the advection, the currents carrying ice more than this region. And so ice did not sort in position, but it ought to have been carried in,” Danielson claimed.

Other researchers on board the Sikuliaq were taking measurements from the Bering and Chukchi Seas to research h2o temperature, salinity and oxygen amounts.

Southwest of St. Lawrence Island, there was a balanced total of efficiency for this late in the time occurring in the Bering Sea ecosystem, according to Jackie Grebmeier, a researcher with the University of Maryland Centre for Environmental Sciences.

“So there is even now Chlorophyll,” Grebmeier reported. “This is viable Chlorophyll on the bottom (of the seafloor) that can give both foodstuff for intake as effectively for microbial and carbon cycling. So it’s continue to heading on into November although the values are about 50% a lot less than what we have through the authentic productive times in July.”

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4 DBO mooring sites ended up monitored by the study staff on board the Sikuliaq through their November 2021 cruise. (Screenshot from Strait Science presentation/YouTube)

Grebmeier, Danielson and other scientists from the Sikuliaq are continue to compiling their remaining observations. The investigate staff will publish a lot more official conclusions someday in the next couple of several years.