Study Area

‘Bering’ north through the strait, toward the Chukchi shelf break.

A rare cloud-free satellite image of the Chukchi Sea, Alaska to the right and Russia to the left, just north of the Bering Strait shows coastal areas where phytoplankton bloom (green) when sea ice melts in summer. Climate models project that changes in the ice cover may accelerate in the future. Scientists in the NASA-funded ICESCAPE project made two expeditions to the seas in the summers of 2010 and 2011 to explore potential impacts of climate change on the region's ecosystem. (Credit: NASA)

Northern Bering Sea / Chukchi Sea

The Arctic Ecosystem Integrated Survey, through a collective effort from our funders and project investigators, has contracted two ships for three complete surveys of the northern Bering Sea and all of the Chukchi Sea shelf region to be conducted in 2012 and 2013. This effort will provide for a total of nearly 6 months of at-sea sampling time where our scientists will conduct repeated, and in some cases the first ever, field sampling from this area in order to facilitate state-of-the-art research that will be disseminated to both scientific and public audiences once analyzed. This will provide the first comprehensive, integrated, and geographically complete oceanographic and fisheries survey on the US portion of the Chukchi Sea shelf.

The fisheries and oceanographic data collections at sea occurred from August through September in 2012 and 2013. Surface trawl (top 20-m of the water column) surveys, along with additional biological and physical oceanographic sampling, took place on board the F/V Bristol Explorer from the northeastern Bering Sea shelf (north of 60°N) to the northern Chukchi Sea. Demersal and benthic fish and invertebrate bottom trawls were conducted on the F/V Alaska Knight only in the Chukchi Sea in 2012. We use standard grid surveys with sampling stations every 30 nautical miles with additional stations for oceanographic collections every 15 miles along E-W transects. Data collection will include fish, physical, and biological oceanographic samples.

Figure 1. Grid of sampling stations sampled during the 2012 and 2013 Arctic Eis surveys. Not all stations could be sampled each year due to the presence of sea ice or inclement weather. All paired surface and bottom trawl stations (triangle, inset black circle) occurred in the Chukchi Sea north of Bering Strait. Disparate surface trawl (black circle) and bottom trawl (triangle) sampling did occur. An acoustic survey was conducted along east-west transects between stations throughout the survey region. Midwater trawling (grey square) was conducted to sample aggregations of midwater fishes identified by the acoustic survey. Oceanography stations (black cross) denote stations where no fishing gear was deployed; however, oceanographic sampling (physics, chemistry, plankton) was conducted at all main stations as well as the additional ‘Oceanography only’ stations in the Chukchi Sea. (Adapted: from Mueter et al., 2017)

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