June 11, 2014

First Three Projects Funded Under NPRB’s New Long-term Monitoring Program

Tags: Long Term Monitoring Program

The North Pacific Research Board (NPRB) has received approval from the U.S. Secretary of Commerce for its 2014 funding package. 2014 is the first year NPRB is specifically funding long-term monitoring projects as a separate priority outside of the annual request for proposal (RFP) process. The approved funding package includes almost $2 million to support three long-term monitoring projects over the next five years. 

Through its long-term monitoring program, NPRB specifically supports projects that aim to understand ecosystem variability and the effect of this variability on subsistence and/or commercial marine resources. In 2013 NPRB solicited pre-proposals for its first complement of long-term monitoring projects. Six applicants were invited to submit full proposals; the first three funded long-term monitoring projects will continue for a minimum of five years. Read more about the projects using the NPRB Project Browser

  • The North Pacific Continuous Plankton Recorder Survey

Understanding variability in plankton (small organisms that drift within the water column) helps to explain the amount of energy available to organisms at higher levels of the food web, including harvested resources with important economic and cultural value. Analyzing the samples collected by the continuous plankton recorder (CPR), researchers can determine the quantity and type of tiny drifting plant and animal organisms and their variability across the sampled area.

With NPRB’s funding contribution, the CPR survey will continue sampling along two paths through the North Pacific that have been studied since 2000. Other partners on the CPR consortium include the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the Exon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council, the Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science, and the North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES).

  • Ecosystem monitoring through a year-round physical and biogeochemical mooring in the Northeast Chukchi Sea

The Chukchi mooring will inform management of subsistence resources and potential commercial fisheries by providing data that is valuable to understanding the underlying dynamics of the ecosystem. The mooring will use a broad suite of sensors to measure the physical environment and plankton community, which will enable researchers study the effects of warming trends on the marine ecosystem. The mooring will greatly expand researchers’ ability to observe and understand seasonally and inter-annually varying environmental conditions, and it will also expand the knowledge about the pathways by which chemical substances move through the system.

Through this long-term monitoring project supported by NPRB, a new ecosystem mooring on the northeastern Chukchi Sea shelf will be deployed and maintained for a five-year period. Other partners on the project include the Alaska Ocean Observing System, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and the Chukchi Sea Environmental Studies Program.

  • Measuring the pulse of the Gulf of Alaska: Oceanographic observations along the Seward Line

In an effort to understand the response of the marine ecosystem to climate variability, scientists have been examining seasonal and inter-annual variation at a series of oceanographic stations known as the Seward Line. Twice each year, scientists visit stations to learn about physical and chemical oceanographic processes, the amount of energy stored within plant tissue, and the distribution and abundance of tiny animal organisms drifting within the water column at each individual station.

Seward Line sampling in its current form has been conducted for approximately 17 years; oceanographic measurements at these sites date back over 40 years. By contributing to this project, NPRB joins forces with other agencies, including the Alaska Ocean Observing System, the Exxon Valdez Gulf Watch program, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to ensure sampling at these stations continues for at least another five years.