Thursday, October 19, 2017
 

Sailing for scientific success in the Bering Sea

PMEL Saildrones successfully complete first test mission in cold waters

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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.

For the first time, Saildrones explore the Bering Sea

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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.

Sea Grant agent works with Arctic communities to study bowhead whales

Integrating science and cultural practices to tackle emerging issues

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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.

NOAA flies over Arctic to measure extent of sea ice

Annual fall mission helps gauge climate change in Arctic

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NOAA researchers set out this week on a two-week mission to fly over the Arctic to measure how much the ice has melted over the summer and gauge the speed of this fall’s refreezing of sea ice. This is the second year in a row scientists have flown above Arctic waters.  Data gathered from both years is testing a hypothesis that increased summer heat stored in the newly sea-ice free areas of the Arctic Ocean lead to surface heat fluxes in autumn that are large enough to have impacts on atmospheric temperature, humidity, wind and cloud distributions. 

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