Oceanographic Conditions of Bowhead Whale Habitat

Update

Archived PolarConnect Event: Lisa Seff and her team held a great webinar Friday, 7 September 2012 that explained her experience in Barrow, Alaska and the science project. Feel free to catch the archive in the PolarConnect Archives.

What Are They Doing?

Bowhead whales in the Chukchi SeaBowhead whales in the Chukchi Sea The research team worked out of Barrow, Alaska at the juxtaposition of two Arctic seas; the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. It is a region frequently traveled by the endangered bowhead whale. This project had its genesis in understanding why the region near Barrow, Alaska is a feeding hotspot for migrating bowhead whales. The whales and their prey will continue to be a focus of the team's interpretations. The research team conducted oceanographic sampling of the physical and biological marine environment in the region over the period 2005-2011 and observed significant inter-annual variability. Long-term studies of the ocean conditions in the Arctic are needed in order to understand how these environments vary inter-annually. The research team will continue to document conditions in the biological-physical ocean ecosystem, through annual boat-based surveys, in order to predict and understand potential impacts of climate change on the Arctic ecosystem.

¿Quienes son?

Titulo financiado: Observación anual del medio ambiente marino biológico y físico en los mares Chukchi y Beauford en las cercanías de Barrow, AK.

El equipo de investigación viajará por avión a Barrow, una comunidad pequeña de aproximadamente 4,500 habitantes en la costa norte de Alaska. Como permitan las condiciones del tiempo, el equipo se embarcara para la colección de muestras oceanográficas a bordo del buque de investigación Annika Marie de 43 pies. Las actividades de a bordo incluirán colección de agua y plancton y mediciones de conductividad, temperatura, y profundidad. A bordo también tomarán nota sobre las ocurrencias de mamíferos marinos y realizarán el procesamiento preliminar de muestras. Si el clima es malo para navegar en el océano ellos pasarán el tiempo en Barrow catalogando muestras y organizándose para los días que pasaran sobre el agua.

Where Are They?

Bowhead whale jawbones on the beach in Barrow, AlaskaBowhead whale jawbones on the beach in Barrow, Alaska The research team traveled by plane to Barrow, a small community of approximately 4,500 people on the north coast of Alaska. As weather permitted, the team embarked on oceanographic sampling trips on board the 50-foot research vessel Ukpik. Activities on board included water and plankton sampling and measurements of conductivity, temperature, and depth. They also noted the occurrences of marine mammals and conducted preliminary sample processing on board. When the weather was too poor for ocean travel they spent time in Barrow cataloguing samples and organizing for future days on the water.

¿Qué están haciendo?

Localidad: : Barrow, Alaska y R/V Annika Marie en los mares Chukchi y Beaufort
Empieza: 1 Agosto 2012
Culmina: 30 Septiembre 2012

El equipo de investigación trabajara desde Barrow AK, en la yuxtaposición de dos mares Árticos: los mares Chukchi y Beaufort. Es una región frecuentemente viajada por la ballena bowhead, una especie en peligro de extinción. El génesis del proyecto es el entender porque la región cercana a Barrow AK es un área central para alimentación de ballenas migratorias bowhead, y las ballenas y sus presas continuaran siendo el enfoque con la interpretación que haga el equipo. El equipo de investigación realizo muestreos oceanográficos del medio ambiente físico y biológico en la región durante el periodo de 2005 al 2011 y observo una variabilidad interanual significante. Estudios de largo plazo de las condiciones oceánicas en el ártico son necesarias para entender como estos medios varían inter-anualmente. El equipo de investigación continuara la documentación de condiciones en el ecosistema biológico-físico oceánico, mediante exploraciones anuales, para poder predecir y entender impactos potenciales climáticos en el ecosistema ártico.

Expedition Map

Journals

 Steve cooking dinner on the Annika Marie.  note the beautiful weather outside.
Join the Polar research team as we use technology to join Dr. Carin Ashjian as she continues her research in the Arctic! We first caught up with her at the end of July onboard the icebreaker U.S.C.G.C. Healy and then followed her onboard the R/V Anika Marie. She and her team members have continued their Barrow-based research, studying the oceanographic conditions of the bowhead whale habitat. This is Dr. Ashjian's final journal of this summers expedition. Journal   A huge low pressure system moved over Alaska early this week, producing high winds across a large region including the...
Unusual calm on the Beaufort Shelf and Elson Lagoon.  Photo 3/4.
Join the Polar research team as we use technology to join Dr. Carin Ashjian this summer as she continues her research in the Arctic! I will be posting Dr. Ashjians journal details of this summer's research expeditions. We first caught up with her onboard the icebreaker U.S.C.G.C. Healy and are now following her onboard the R/V Anika Marie with Captain Bill Kopplin, where she and her team members will continue their Barrow-based research studying the oceanographic conditions of the bowhead whale habitat. Journal   A blustery day here in Barrow.   We had a run of bad weather earlier this week...
Bringing the float for the mooring out to the Annika Marie
Join the Polar research team as we use technology to join Dr. Carin Ashjian this summer as she continues her research in the Arctic! I will be posting Dr. Ashjians journal details of this summer's research expeditions. We first caught up with her onboard the icebreaker U.S.C.G.C. Healy and are now following her onboard the R/V Anika Marie with Captain Bill Kopplin, where she and her team members will continue their Barrow-based research studying the oceanographic conditions of the bowhead whale habitat. Journal Entry Bringing the float for the mooring out to the Annika Marie. Although the...
View of the Healy as we pulled away and headed towards Barrow.
Join the Polar research team as we use technology to join Dr. Carin Ashjian this summer as she continues her research in the Arctic! I will be posting Dr. Ashjians journal details of this summer's research expeditions. We first caught up with her onboard the icebreaker U.S.C.G.C. Healy and are now following her onboard the R/V Anika Marie with Captain Bill Kopplin, where she and her team members will continue their Barrow-based research studying the oceanographic conditions of the bowhead whale habitat. Journal Entry After a busy few days, we are settled back in Barrow AK. We disembarked...
Mustang suits drying on deck after being washed.
Join the Polar research team as we use technology to join Dr. Carin Ashjian this summer as she continues her research in the Arctic! I will be posting Dr. Ashjians journal details of this summer's research expeditions. We first catch up with her onboard the icebreaker U.S.C.G.C. Healy and then will follow her onboard the R/V Anika Marie where she and her team members will continue their Barrow-based research studying the oceanographic conditions of the bowhead whale habitat. Journal Entry It’s the night before we leave. The last two days have been a frenzy of activity. Most people stopped...

Expedition Resources

Project Information

Dates:
19 August 2012 to 13 September 2012
Location: Barrow, Alaska and R/V Ukpik in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas
Project Funded Title: Annual Observations of the Biological and Physical Marine Environment in the Chukchi and near-shore Beaufort Seas near Barrow, AK

Meet the Team

Lisa Seff's picture
Springs School
East Hampton, NY
United States

Lisa has enjoyed teaching at Springs School, located in East Hampton New York, for the past 17 years where she also lives with her husband Gary. Her teaching certifications include biology, earth science, general science and elementary education and she recently earned her National Board Teacher Certification in Early Adolescent Science. In 2012 Lisa became a PolarTREC educator joining Dr. Carin Ashjian, Dr. Robert Campbell and Dr. Steve Okkonen in Barrow Alaska. While there they studied the physical and biological oceanographic conditions of the bowhead whale habitat. This year she's very excited to reconnect the Springs community with the research team on a new and exciting Arctic-based research project in the Beaufort Sea!

Carin Ashjian's picture
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Woods Hole, MA
United States

Dr. Carin Ashjian studies marine biology and ecology with a special interest in the ecology of zooplankton in the Polar Regions, as these ecosystems may be significantly impacted by climate change. Her studies have taken her to both the Arctic and the Antarctic. For eleven years, she worked near Utqiaġvik/Barrow AK using a research vessel to study how and why this region is a feeding hotspot for bowhead whales during their fall migration from Canada to the Bering Sea. She also has worked from much larger research vessels, the USCGC Healy and the R/V SIkuliaq, to study zooplankton in the Bering, Chukchi, and Beaufort Seas. Past research has taken her to the Sea of Japan, the Norwegian Sea, Georges Bank, the Gulf Stream, and the California Current. She is a Senior Scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution where she has worked since 1995.