New research by NOAA, University of Alaska, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in the journal Oceanography shows that surface waters of the Chukchi and Beaufort seas could reach levels of acidity that threaten the ability of animals to build and maintain their shells by 2030, with the Bering Sea reaching this level of acidity by 2044.
Testing new scientific technology is a risky business. In the case of two Saildrones released in the eastern Bering Sea over a month ago, the risk has led to big rewards. Equipped with a suite of scientific sensors, the unmanned surface vehicles are performing beyond researchers’ expectations during their first test run in cold waters. Each Saildrone has collected over 40 million measurements over the course of the planned 2.5 month test mission.
It is too soon to know if recent extreme cold weather such as the last two East Coast winters are linked to Arctic climate warming, according to new research published in the Journal of Climate by James Overland of NOAA, and other authors from North America, Asia and Europe.
On April 22, two autonomous surface vehicles equipped with meteorological and oceanographic sensors will be released for the first time in the Bering Sea by NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL). Saildrones have the capacity to increase observational infrastructure in remote and hostile polar regions where ship time and human labor is costly and potentially hazardous. The ongoing development of Saildrones is a collaborative effort of researchers at PMEL, the Joint Institute for the Study of Atmosphere and Ocean (JISAO) at the University of Washington, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and Saildrone Inc.
In Alaska’s Bering Strait and Arctic regions, there are dozens of Alaskan Native tribes, many of whom depend on the marine environment for food, as they have in some cases for thousands of years. In this world more foreign to most Americans than many other countries (and bigger than many too) works exactly one NOAA Oceanic & Atmospheric Research Sea Grant extension agent: Gay Sheffield.