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Atmospheric Administration
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What's Happening Archive

May 10, 2022

FOCI mooring ready for deployment in the Bering Sea aboard the NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson.  The M2 surface mooring that has been deployed each spring in the southeastern Bering Sea for over 25 years. This critical mooring provides year-round measurements of temperature, salinity, nitrite, chlorophyll, and currents in this highly productive area. For the last 10 years, partial pressure in CO2 (pCO2) and pH measurements have also been taken at M2. 

May 10, 2022

An annual survey is underway to provide baseline fisheries and oceanographic data to support sustainable management of living resources in the Bering Sea and the rapidly changing US Arctic ecosystem. These surveys provide key data in understanding and monitoring events such as sea-ice loss and the cold pool and how these are impacting the Arctic ecosystem.  

This spring mooring cruise brings together scientists from NOAA’s PMEL and Alaska Fisheries Science Center, University of Washington, US Fish and Wildlife, and the University of Alaska. While aboard the NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson, the scientists will service a biophysical mooring array in the Bering Sea, collect conductivity, temperature, depth (CTD) profiles, zooplankton and ichthyoplankton samples and conduct special projects related to harmful algal blooms and zooplankton machine learning. Results from these observations and experiments will help describe important ecosystem linkages among climate, plankton, fishes, birds and mammals.  

EcoFOCI will be field testing and using several technologies this summer, including pop-up floats, a remote access sampler and a new shallow-water glider. These technologies aim to enhance shipboard and mooring research with more data collection in a fine scale region. 

NOAA’s EcoFOCI program is leading 5 research cruises this March to October in the Alaska region.

 

May 10, 2022
A yellow and white painted circular donut shaped mooring upside down on the back of a ship with the sea and landscape in the background

FOCI mooring ready for deployment in the Bering Sea aboard the NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson.  The M2 surface mooring that has been deployed each spring in the southeastern Bering Sea for over 25 years. This critical mooring provides year-round measurements of temperature, salinity, nitrite, chlorophyll, and currents in this highly productive area. For the last 10 years, partial pressure in CO2 (pCO2) and pH measurements have also been taken at M2. 

May 10, 2022

An annual survey is underway to provide baseline fisheries and oceanographic data to support sustainable management of living resources in the Bering Sea and the rapidly changing US Arctic ecosystem. These surveys provide key data in understanding and monitoring events such as sea-ice loss and the cold pool and how these are impacting the Arctic ecosystem.  

This spring mooring cruise brings together scientists from NOAA’s PMEL and Alaska Fisheries Science Center, University of Washington, US Fish and Wildlife, and the University of Alaska. While aboard the NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson, the scientists will service a biophysical mooring array in the Bering Sea, collect conductivity, temperature, depth (CTD) profiles, zooplankton and ichthyoplankton samples and conduct special projects related to harmful algal blooms and zooplankton machine learning. Results from these observations and experiments will help describe important ecosystem linkages among climate, plankton, fishes, birds and mammals.  

EcoFOCI will be field testing and using several technologies this summer, including pop-up floats, a remote access sampler and a new shallow-water glider. These technologies aim to enhance shipboard and mooring research with more data collection in a fine scale region. 

NOAA’s EcoFOCI program is leading 5 research cruises this March to October in the Alaska region.

Find blog updates on the NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center webpage: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/region/alaska#science

 

February 03, 2022
Zone map for the 2022 Pan-Pacific Winter High Seas Expedition

Zone map for the 2022 Pan-Pacific Winter High Seas Expedition(click on image to see the full map).Credit: NOAA Fisheries

 NOAA Ship Shimada leaving Port Angeles, Washington

NOAA Ship Shimada leaving Port Angeles, Washington to join the Year of the Salmon Expedition. Photo Credit: CDR Duncan/NOAA

February 02, 2022

February 1 - March 7: NOAA PMEL scientists join NOAA Fisheries and an international team of researchers aboard the NOAA R/V Shimada to provide expertise in physical oceanography and lead hydrographic data collection, nutrient sampling, analysis and processing. EcoFOCI is taking part in the International Year of the Salmon expedition to help detect and monitor changes both within Pacific salmon and their respective ecosystems, especially in the Gulf of Alaska.  

Pacific salmon are a uniquely important resource for countries across the North Pacific yet there are major scientific gaps in our understanding of the ocean phase of the salmon life cycle. This cruise will collect vital data to improve that understanding and aid in forecasting and management of salmon. 

The expedition will include as many as five research vessels to conduct the largest ever pan-Pacific, epipelagic ecosystem survey during winter, focused on understanding salmon and their ecosystems. The 2022 Expedition will involve a full ecosystem survey with pelagic trawling and detailed sampling of marine life in the upper ocean and will include research on physical, biological and chemical oceanography. Novel technologies such as gliders, environmental DNA and genetic stock identification will be used to enhance research efforts. This collaborative international effort spanning the entire North Pacific includes scientists from Canada, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, and the United States. 

The data collected by PMEL will provide key baseline and comparative data to the overall pan-Pacific collaboration focused on salmon recovery. During the expedition, PMEL will collect samples from over 30 CTD stations, deploy satellite-tracked drifters and several Argo floats, and collect carbon dioxide, nutrient and salinity measurements from an on-board flow-through system. 

The research cruise will extend from 1 February to 7 March in the central to western Gulf of Alaska. More about the expedition: https://yearofthesalmon.org/2022expedition/

Follow along with the expedition on the blog and more details online: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/west-coast/2022-pan-pacific-winter-high-seas-expedition 

August 18, 2021
Map of the Chukchi Sea showing the track of a float as well as graphs of increasing temperature and chlorophyll concentration increasing from May to June with cloudy brown/green and clear images of under the ice.

During the first Chukchi deployment, floats resurfaced under a sheet of floating ice (ice floe), monitored and tracked the ice region for almost two months and detected an under-ice algae bloom (Stabeno et. al, 2020).  The bottom row shows the captured images with no bloom and/or algae.

August 18, 2021

After spending 8 months under water and ice, two of NOAA’s three Arctic-deployed pop-up floats have successfully surfaced in the Chukchi Sea and are transmitting data on temperature, pressure, photosynthetic active radiation (PAR), and chlorophyll fluorescence. These data are from measurements taken while the float is anchored to the seafloor, while it rises through the water column, and while it is trapped under the ice at the water-ice boundary.  

The two floats were initially deployed in the fall of 2020 by the scientists and crew of NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson. These are part of the 4th cohort of deployments since 2017, and the second cohort deployed in the Chukchi Sea.  The first float to surface has transmitted data from the four months it spent on the seafloor, just over a month of data from when it was trapped under ice, and about half of the photos it took while under ice. The second float has transmitted about five months of data from the seafloor, just over four months of data from under the ice along with the under-ice photos it captured, and 7 days of open ocean sea surface temperature. 

Pop-up floats provide an inexpensive method to explore a unique micro-ecosystem under floating ice. The floats collect ocean health data to help researchers better understand the rapidly changing Arctic ecosystem. They collect data during the ice-covered winter and spring months, a time during which it isn’t possible for researchers to penetrate the ice from above to study the water underneath. The water column data they collect on their rise up from seafloor to surface is essential for researchers to monitor ongoing ecosystem changes in the Arctic, such as watching for harmful algal blooms and documenting biodiversity in the environment. The floats can also help researchers measure the extent of the cold pool, an area of cold water about 30 meters deep that results from melting Arctic ice from the previous season.

NOAA PMEL began development of these floats in 2015. The float is an orange sphere equipped with sensors to measure temperature, pressure, and other ocean conditions as well as cameras to capture under ice imagery. It is deployed during the ice-free summer months and anchors to the seafloor measuring bottom-ocean conditions. It stays here collecting measurements throughout the winter and early spring. It then rises up through the water column at a pre-programmed time, in this case early March to mid-April, capturing data at various depths to create a profile of the water column. The floats are then trapped under ice when it reaches the surface, and will continue collecting data and images of conditions at the water-ice boundary. When the ice melts in mid-May and early June, the floats can emerge fully from the ice to reach the surface and begin transmitting their stored data, while continuing to monitor sea surface temperature. 

Read more about the 2020 pop-up deployments in Arctic Today and on the ITAE website.

May 11, 2021
Two yellow buoys on a ship deck on a clear blue sky day

These moorings will be deployed in the Bering Sea as part of an array that collects near-continuous, year-round measurements to better understand the mechanisms and changes in a highly productive ecosystem to support sustainable management of living marine resources.

May 11, 2021

he EcoFOCI spring mooring cruise departed on the NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson on May 1, from Kodiak, AK for an annual survey that was missed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Scientists from NOAA’s PMEL, University of Washington Cooperative Institute for Climate, Ocean and Ecosystem Studies (CICOES) and NOAA’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center will service a biophysical mooring array in the Bering Sea, collect conductivity, temperautre, depth (CTD) profiles, zooplankton and ichthyoplankton samples and conduct special projects related to harmful algal blooms and zooplankton machine learning. Results from these observations and experiments will help describe important ecosystem linkages among climate, plankton, fishes, birds and mammals. Continuous monitoring in this region provides critical data to support sustainable management of living resources in the Bering Sea and the rapidly changing US Arctic ecosystem.

The M2 surface mooring has been deployed each spring in the southeastern Bering Sea for over 25 years and provides year-round measurements of temperature, salinity, nitrite, chlorophyll, and currents in this highly productive area. Carbon dioxide measurements taken from M2 reached another milestone of 10 years collecting data. Long-term time-series at this site are a critical tool for adapting to climate change and guiding sustainable management of living resources in the Bering Sea.

EcoFOCI will also be field testing and using several technologies in collaboration with the Innovative Technology for Arctic Exploration program including pop-up floats and remote access sampler. These technologies enhance shipboard and mooring research with more data collection over a fine scale region.

This is one of 5 research cruises the program will either lead or participate in from March-October. Geoff Lebon from UW CICOES is the Chief Scientist on the cruise. The EcoFOCI program is a collaborative research effort by scientists at NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) and Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC) focusing on the unique and economically important high-latitude ecosystems of Alaska.

March 02, 2021
Map of the North Atlantic Ocean and Arctic of a simluation showing high salinity in red in the Arctic through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago

A simulated red dye tracer released from the Beaufort Gyre in the Arctic Ocean (center top) shows freshwater transport through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, along Baffin Island to the western Labrador Sea, off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, where it reduces surface salinity. At the lower left is Newfoundland (triangular land mass) surrounded by orange for fresher water, with Canada’s Gulf of St. Lawrence above colored yellow. Credit: Francesca Samsel and Greg Abram (LANL)

March 02, 2021

The Beaufort Gyre in the western Arctic Ocean is the largest oceanic freshwater reservoir in the Northern Hemisphere. It has increased its freshwater content by 40% over the past two decades. The fate of the excess freshwater and how and where this water will flow into the Atlantic Ocean is important for local and global ocean conditions. A new paper in Nature Communications, researchers from the University of Washington, NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory and the Department of Energy Los Alamos National Laboratory, show that a historical release during 1983-1996 freshened the western Labrador Sea by as much as 0.2 parts per thousand. The results imply that a future release of the current high volume of Beaufort Gyre freshwater could even be more impactful. 

This study is the first that quantifies the fate of the Beaufort Gyre freshwater after it is released and its downstream impact. The study shows that this freshwater travels through the Canadian Archipelago to reach the Labrador Sea, rather than through the wider marine passageways that connect to seas in Northern Europe. The results are based on passive tracers implemented in a global intermediate-resolution ocean sea-ice model, which is performed at the High Performance Computing facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory. 

“The Canadian Archipelago is a major conduit between the Arctic and the North Atlantic,” said lead author Jiaxu Zhang, a UW postdoctoral researcher at the Cooperative Institute for Climate, Ocean and Ecosystem Studies who began this work at Los Alamos National Laboratory. “In the future, if the winds get weaker and the freshwater gets released, there is a potential for this high amount of water to have a big influence in the Labrador Sea region.”

The finding has implications for the Labrador Sea marine environment, since Arctic water tends to be fresher but also rich in nutrients. This pathway also affects larger oceanic currents, namely a conveyor-belt circulation in the Atlantic Ocean in which colder, heavier water sinks in the North Atlantic and comes back along the surface as the Gulf Stream. Fresher, lighter water entering the Labrador Sea could slow that overturning circulation.

“We know that the Arctic Ocean has one of the biggest climate change signals,” said co-author Wei Cheng at the UW-based Cooperative Institute for Climate, Ocean and Atmosphere Studies. “Right now this freshwater is still trapped in the Arctic. But once it gets out, it can have a very large impact."

The exact impact is unknown. The study focused on past events, and current research is looking at where today’s freshwater buildup might end up and what changes it could trigger.

Read the full University of Washington News Release.

Scientist(s): 

September 25, 2020
Yellow surface buoy being pulled up on to the back deck of a NOAA Ship by crew and scientists in life jackets.

NOAA scientists and crew on NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson deploy a mooring in the Bering Sea to monitor ocean acidification in 2019. Moorings give researchers an expanded view of the remote corners of the world's ocean sproviding near-continuous, year-round measurements. Credit: NOAA Corps LT Laura Dwyer/ NOAA.

September 25, 2020

From spring to early fall in a typical year, NOAA and research partners conduct several important scientific surveys in the U.S. waters of the Bering and Chukchi Seas. Scientists collect oceanographic and biological data that are used to inform fisheries management, monitor whale populations and support Arctic ecosystem and climate studies.

This annual research is essential to understanding a rapidly changing Arctic.

But this was no usual year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While NOAA has had to cancel many of its planned research surveys in Alaska, it has been able to conduct a number of scaled-back research surveys in 2020. One such survey that will be finishing up this week is in the Arctic and was conducted on board NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson to collect critical data supporting a long time series involving many scientific partners.

Collecting key Arctic data

With the help of the Oscar Dyson’s crew, which has gone above and beyond their normal duties to assist the scientists during the survey and ensure the continued collection of data, scientists are retrieving and deploying some of the moorings that gather data year-round in the Bering and Chukchi Seas. These moorings are equipped with sensors to collect measurements of nutrients and oceanographic conditions (including currents, temperature, salinity, oxygen, and fluorescence) to better understand the health of this marine ecosystem and how it may be changing. Some of the mooring sites have been operating continuously for more than 20 years and provide critical ocean measurements during the ice-covered winter and spring months. 

The science team and Oscar Dyson survey team are also collecting physical, chemical and biological water column data in an effort to document ongoing ecosystem changes in the U.S. Arctic. The science team is also sampling the water column for phytoplankton, single-celled plants, in order to monitor harmful algal blooms and are collecting environmental DNA from water samples to document the biodiversity present in the environment.

Gaining insights on marine life

Scientists at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center also hope to retrieve passive acoustic data from year-round moorings to learn more about where whales move throughout the year. Of particular interest is how whales responded to a more typical, colder winter in 2019 than the extremely warm conditions during the previous two years.

The survey team deployed new pop-up floats for NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory to map the “cold pool”. The cold pool is a layer of cold bottom water (less than 35°F (2 °C) at approximately 98 feet (30 meters), which results from melting sea ice in the previous winter and spring, and plays a key role for the Bering Sea ecosystem. It can act as a corridor for Arctic fish species and a barrier for sub-Arctic species. The cold pool can restrict movement of commercially important walleye pollock and Pacific cod into northern waters. In the past few years, the cold pool has been markedly smaller, allowing large-scale northward expansions of typically sub-Arctic fish, crab and zooplankton into the Bering Sea.

“What is really remarkable about this survey is that scientists and crew are stepping forward to collect data for fellow scientists who aren’t able to get out this year,” said Phyllis Stabeno, NOAA PMEL oceanographer. “It’s a great example of teamwork at its best.”

The Oscar Dyson team has already retrieved four seafloor-mounted acoustic moorings for Alex De Robertis, an Alaska Fisheries Science Center fisheries biologist. Data collected by these moorings will help quantify the migrations of walleye pollock between U.S. and Russian waters.

Read more about the research cruise on NOAA Research

June 24, 2020

The US Arctic and Bering Sea are big, remote, and harsh environments. PMEL's Innovative Technology for Arctic Exploration program and Engineering Development Division have been developing autonomous technologies and tools to collect critical data to better understand changes in the oceans and its impact on food security, sea ice forecasts, weather and climate.

Drones and gliders are not designed for ice edge and can offer a new perspective on Arctic science, exploring new areas of the Arctic Ocean. One critical area of study is the melting edge of the seasonal ice pack. The timing and speed of annual ice retreat is changing each year, and could have a big impact on ecosystems and global weather patterns. PMEL is pushing the envelope to further develop gliders and drones to advance the science near the ice edge to explore how it moves and changes.

Check out the video on our YouTube Channel to learn more about NOAA PMEL’s autonomous observing technology in the Arctic: https://youtu.be/A_rCig1gFgw

February 25, 2020
A mooring used by EcoFOCI in the Bering Sea to understand the determine the influence of the physical and biological environments on marine populations and the subsequent impact on fisheries

EcoFOCI maintains an array of four moorings on the southeastern Bering Sea Shelf that collect year-round measurements to better understand the mechanisms and changes that may impact the productive marine ecosystem. 

February 26, 2020

The northern Bering and Chukchi Seas are among the world’s most productive ocean areas. They are home to millions of seabirds and marine mammals and vibrant Indigenous cultures. The region has also long been one of the fastest warming places on the planet. In a recnetly published paper in Nature Climate Change, a multi-disciplinary team of academic, government, and private sector scientists reports that dramatic changes in these Arctic ecosystems due to warmer ocean conditions. The scientific team, participating in a four-year Arctic Integrated Ecosystem Research Program, observed conditions more typical of subarctic ecosystems.

"The rate of change over the study timeframe came as a shock. Having a team with the expertise to put together the pieces across the whole ecosystem simply drives home how far-reaching the changes are and how much they matter," said Henry Huntington, lead author of the study.

Some key observations over the past several years of the study include:

  • Near-bottom waters that typically remained close to freezing year-round have in the past four years warmed for several months in the summer and fall.
  • Sea ice that used to start forming each fall has been absent or sparse into January and February and the spring ice retreat was earlier than normal in recent years.
  • Juvenile Arctic Cod, which dominate pelagic fish communities in the northern Chukchi Sea, were substantially more abundant in 2017 than in 2012 and 2013.
  • In 2017 pink salmon were observed to have increased dramatically in abundance in the northern Bering Sea
  • Bowhead whales that typically migrate south of St. Lawrence Island were observed year-round north of the Bering Strait.
  • Ice seals were absent from vast portions of some of their main breeding areas, and dead seals were reported in unusually high numbers on the Bering and Chukchi coasts.

The North Pacific Research Board, in cooperation with other organizations funded the Arctic Integrated Ecosystem Research Program. The goal of the program was to better understand the mechanisms and processes that structure the ecosystem and influence the distribution, life history, and interactions of biological communities in the Chukchi Sea.  Previous integrated ecosystem programs were undertaken in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska.

The big question for scientists remains whether these changes reflect a new norm. Collaborative research efforts like this are important because they allow scientists to monitor changes as they are happening and provide meaningful information to local communities and resource managers so they are better able to respond and adapt.

The team of authors includes physical and biological oceanographers, ichthyologists, ornithologists, marine mammalogists, marine ecologists, and social scientists, from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the University of Washington, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the North Slope Borough Department of Wildlife Management, the North Pacific Research Board, Stantec, and Huntington Consulting.

PMEL's EcoFOCI program was involved with the study. EcoFOCI is a joint research program between NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Lab and NOAA's Alaska Fisheries Science Center. EcoFOCI scientists integrate field, laboratory and modeling studies to determine how varying biological and physical factors influence large marine ecosystems within Alaskan waters.

Read the full press release here

 

February 14, 2020
Ocean Sciences Meeting Banner with Wave Background
February 14, 2020

41 scientists from PMEL, including scientists from NOAA's cooperative institutes at the University of Washington's Joint Institute for the Study of the Ocean and Atmosphere (JISAO) and Oregon State University's Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies (CIMRS), the National Research Council, graduate and undergraduate students are heading to the Ocean Sciences Meeting in San Diego to share their current research. Talks and posters cover a range of topics include saildrone research, ocean observing systems, marine heatwaves, Arctic, acoustics, Deep Argo, genetics and genomics, El Nino, hydrothermal vents, methane, nutrients, technologies, ocean carbon and data management.

The 2020 Oceans Science Meeting is the flagship conference for the ocean sciences and the larger ocean-connected community.  As we approach the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, beginning in 2021, it is increasingly important to gather as a scientific community to raise awareness of the truly global dimension of the ocean, address environmental challenges, and set forth on a path towards a resilient planet. The meeting is co-sponsored by the American Geophysical Union (AGU), the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO), and The Oceanography Society (TOS).

PMEL research groups that will be present at the conference are: AcousticsArctic including Innovative Technology for Arctic ExplorationClimate-Weather InterfaceEarth-Ocean InteractionsEcoFOCIEngineering, Genetics and GenomicsGlobal Tropical Moored Buoy Array, , Large Scale Ocean PhysicsOcean CarbonOcean Climate StationsPacific Western Boundary Currents, and Science Data Integration Group.

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