Photo Credit: Seth Danielson

Explore the Science

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 2014, NPRB funded three long-term monitoring projects that will collect data over a five-year period.

The North Pacific Continuous Plankton Recorder Survey

continuous plankton recorder artist rendering

Photo Courtesy of Sonia Batten

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 Exxon 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 Array in the Northeast Chukchi Sea

lone researcher working on the back deck of a vessel attaching sensors to a mooring

Photo Credit: Seth Danielson

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

looking from bow to stern aboard a research vessel at night

Photo Credit: Chris Linder

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 Oil Spill Trustee Council's Gulf Watch Alaska 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.