Spring Plankton and Changing Ice Cover
What Are They Doing?
A diverse research team aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter (USCGC) Healy conducted sampling along a series of transects over the eastern Bering Sea. Research on the ship was multidisciplinary, with scientists using a variety of techniques to document ocean conditions and the productivity of the Bering Sea ecosystem. Research teams measured the temperature, salinity, and nutrient content of the sea water, changes in sea ice cover, and the concentration of nutrients used and released by phytoplankton. They also conducted surveys of zooplankton, fish, seabirds, and marine mammals such as walrus and seal to assess the health of these populations. A major focus of this cruise was characterizing the phytoplankton bloom associated with the edge of the melting sea ice.
These measurements helped give scientists an indication of the status of the Bering Sea ecosystem and an indication of any changes that could affect the use of its resources, and the economic, social, and cultural sustainability of the people who depend on it. This is the second 2009 cruise in support of the Bering Sea Ecosystem Study (BEST) and the Bering Sea Integrated Ecosystem Research Program (BSIERP).
Where Are They?
The team traveled on the USCGC Healy in the Bering Sea. The Bering Sea lies to the west of Alaska and to the east of Russia. The team departed from and returned to the port of Dutch Harbor, Alaska, the most productive fishing port in the United States.
Meet the Team
Simone Welch can't imagine living life without science. Growing up with a father who was a coral reef ecologist, she has traveled to many islands and coasts while he conducted his research. After graduating from George Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Ms. Welch worked in journalism for National Public Radio and National Geographic. After returning to school for a master’s degree in education, Ms. Welch taught for the Peace Corps in West Africa before becoming an elementary school science teacher at Oyster Bilingual Elementary in Washington, D.C. She hopes that her students leave her classroom each day with science not only in their heads but on their clothes and hands too! Ms. Welch is an amateur photographer, and her other personal interests include snowboarding, rock climbing, yoga, and most of all, traveling. She hopes to someday become a limnologist, but to never stop teaching.