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Atmospheric Administration
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What's Happening Archive

December 05, 2022
Yellow circular buoy with black words "Peggy" with a tower on top sitting in ocean with sea gulls flying above

Peggy is a biophysical mooring nicknamed after Peggy Dyson being deployed in the Bering Sea. The biophysical mooring site 2 (M2) is one of the longest running time series of its kind providing near-continuous measurements since 1995 in the southeastern Bering Sea.

December 05, 2022

The Pivotal Recovery Story Map (ESRI) recounts the events in 2021 of how NOAA scientists raced against nature to save their most valuable scientific instruments in the Bering Sea. This interactive online map highlights the recovery efforts, the unique data collected and the implications it has for management. 

In the fall of 2021, a combination of sea ice, hurricane-force winds, and a pandemic set the stage for what would become a momentous recovery effort for scientific moorings in the southeastern Bering Sea. These scientific moorings provide an overview of changing ocean conditions as part of a 30 year time series. Scientists deploy these moorings on an annual basis to ensure continuous measurements during ice and ice-free seasons. 

NOAA scientists are at the forefront of detecting regional and global climate change and its impacts on Alaska’s marine ecosystems. With a generation of ocean observing, NOAA EcoFOCI, or the Ecosystems and Fisheries Oceanography Coordinated Investigations Program, continues to study and share how oceanographic and biological changes affect marine ecosystems such as the Cold Pool and impact of sea ice loss. 

This Story Map was developed by Lindsey Neuwirth, a 2022 NOAA College Supported Intern at Stony Brook University. 

To view the story map, please see this version on the ESRI website"Pivotal Recovery for Science''.  Note that most story maps are large, single-page multimedia presentations. When using a mobile device, we recommend viewing over WiFi.

August 11, 2022
A group photo of  six scientists wearing orange full body flight suits, boots and some in beanies smiling in front of a blue and white NOAA plane with two propellers.

The team of NOAA and University of Washington Cooperative Institute scientists during the first flight mission over Alaskan waters to conduct renewed research on Arctic ocean heat flows.

August 11, 2022

July 29 - August 4: A team of NOAA and University of Washington Cooperative Institute scientists flew over Alaskan waters to conduct renewed research on Arctic ocean heat flows. Scientists deployed 30 floats from NOAA aircraft that will provide key temperature data to better understand how the Arctic ocean is warming. 

The team completed the second leg of the 2022 mission from the northernmost point of Alaska, Utqiagvik. They deployed 24 temperature profilers, Airborne eXpendable Bathy Thermographs (AXBTs), in groups of six along four different sections of an ocean slope region. AXBTs are small probes that measure ocean temperature as a function of depth as they travel through the water column. The ocean floor contains a narrow channel where warm water flows into the Arctic, eventually splitting into two flows moving left and right. The goal of this research is to measure the water temperature along this slope and determine the total heat content that each pathway is guiding, including how much of that heat moves in each direction. Determining the heat flow (in both directions) provides important information that contributes to sea ice formation and retreat, as well as effects on downstream algal blooms.

In June, the team began the first flights from Prudhoe Bay to Kotzebue and deployed eight floats that measure ocean temperature to support data collection efforts of the Distributed Biological Observatory. The team deployed 8 AXBTs that will provide critical data in this undersampled area for the next few years. 2 of the 8 floats are transmitting ocean temperature data and measurements were collected between sampling locations.    

This work is a fresh take on efforts established by the late Dr. Kevin Wood. Dr. Wood was deeply committed to understanding and communicating the nuances of science in a way that inspired and motivated people to work to mitigate climate change. To continue his legacy, special funding was brought together from NOAA PMEL, NOAA OMAO, and the University of Washington CICOES to support these flights.

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

 

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.

 

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

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