Chukchi Sea Ecosystem Study

What Are They Doing?

Lowering sampling instruments into the Chukchi SeaLowering sampling instruments into the Chukchi Sea This project attempts to understand the role of carbon resources to the food webs of the Chukchi Sea, off the northwest coast of Alaska. The northern Chukchi Shelf receives large inputs of organic matter transported from the highly productive shelf regions of the North Pacific and from existing sources of primary production, including ice algae, sediment microalgae and phytoplankton. These contributions of highly changing organic carbon, together with potential benthic (from the bottom of the sea) sources of nutrients, likely contribute to the enormous secondary production (production of living material by organisms) of this region. In particular, the relatively shallow depths (40-55 m) and high bottom flow have created "hotspots" of biological productivity found in the vicinity of the Hanna Shoal region of the Chukchi Sea.

The research team includes scientists from seven institutions and at least two federal agencies. The work will take place over dozens of existing sampling stations and will involve collaboration with other science studies in the region sponsored by federal, state or industry interests. Due to the biological significance of this region and its importance for oil and gas exploration and development, the group will be examining the range of biological, chemical and physical properties that define this ecosystem.

The group will focus their efforts on the Hanna Shoal region, with the addition of a pelagic (from the open ocean) component to address standing stocks of phytoplankton and zooplankton and a physical oceanographic study that will address water mass movements through direct measurement of circulation, density, and ice conditions.

Where Are They?

USCGC HealyUSCGC Healy The team will live and work from the United States Coast Guard Icebreaker Healy as they travel off the northwest coast of Alaska to the Chukchi Sea. The USCGC Healy was designed for icebreaking and polar research and can accommodate up to 50 scientists. The USCGC Healy is designed to break 1.2 meters (4 feet) of ice continuously at 3 knots and can operate in temperatures as low as -45 degrees C (-50 degrees F).

Journals

 Christina at the box sieve
If you see a flash of a blonde haired female scientist on the deck that seems to be everywhere at once, then that would be Dr. Jackie (Jacqueline) Grebmeier from the University of Maryland. Her team...
Barge
Barrow We made an amphibious landing onto the beach in Barrow, the northern most United States city. Barrow is located on the North Slope of Alaska in the tundra (a treeless plain). The community...
Preparing zodiac for launch.
Ice Fishing It is not what you think...cutting a hole in the ice and catching fish. I mean literally ice fishing; fishing for ice to collect ice algae as mentioned in "You are what you eat.". In...
Trophic Levels
Trophic levels provided by Nathan McTigue. In past Dunton Team journals I have discussed a myriad of topics dealing with benthos "Benthic Organisms and More..." and "What's Going on in the Mud...
Isopod
Oceanographers are similar to meteorologist; they both predict patterns based on computer models and have an understanding of how different variables affect a system. Both air and water currents...

Expedition Resources

Project Information

Dates: 25 July 2013 to 15 August 2013
Location: USCGC Healy
Project Funded Title: Chukchi Sea Offshore Monitoring in Drilling Area (COMIDA): The Hanna Shoal Ecosystem Study

Meet the Team

Andrea Skloss's picture
Brundrett Middle School

Prior to her 26 year career in education, Andrea Skloss earned her undergraduate degree in marine biology with a chemistry minor and a masters in curriculum and instruction. She has been an Eleanor Roosevelt Fellow and Texas Teacher of the Year. She has worked on a sea turtle telemetry project with the culminating event to release hatchlings in Playa Dos Mexico. In addition she has participated in the National Park Service Teacher to Ranger to Teacher experience on Padre Island National Seashore, conducting interactive beach walks, creating curriculum and operating as event spokesperson during public hatchling releases.

Through her involvement with a GK-12 project, Ms. Skloss has utilized many graduate fellows in the classroom to demonstrate to students that scientists do cool and amazing research. Currently she has a PhD graduate fellow working with students on a yearlong project measuring environmental variables at two sites. For over ten years, she has belonged to a science collaborative undergoing hundreds of hours in content acquisition and learning the latest technology and teaching strategies.

Her message to her students is we all should be lifelong learners. "Be kind to the planet" is her motto. Since the 7th grade she has had a love for the marine environment based on a classroom exposure. She feels strongly that, "As teachers, we have an amazing impact on our students". Ms. Skloss enjoys traveling nationally and internationally. She has two married sons and a granddaughter.

Ken Dunton's picture
The University of Texas at Austin
Port Aransas, TX
United States

Dr. Kenneth Dunton is a biological oceanographer whose research is focused on estuarine, coastal, and shelf processes. Although his work spans from the Arctic to the Antarctic, his continuous studies of the arctic coastal ecosystem have spanned three decades. Dr. Dunton became involved with arctic studies involving kelp beds in 1977. His research also includes examining the distribution and biomass of benthic biota and the application of stable isotopic signatures to assess changes in trophic structure. Such measurements can help identify processes that are sentinel indicators of global change.

He has continued this work in the Chukchi Sea under funding from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and under a grant from the NSF to examine the linkages between watersheds and the nearshore lagoons of the eastern Alaskan Beaufort Sea. Dr. Dunton has published more than 80 peer-reviewed papers and has supervised over 20 graduate students and 11 post-doctoral fellows. He is active in K-12 outreach, obtaining two NSF grants that partner teachers and graduate students in K-12 classrooms. He implemented the annual summer science field program for kids in 2008 in partnership with the City of Port Aransas and the Port Aransas school district. He also implemented a summer science program for the native school children of Kaktovik, Alaska, on the Beaufort Sea coast in conjunction with the Arctic Refuge (USF&WS) that started in 2007. He obtained his BSc in biology from the University of Maine in 1975, his MS from Western Washington in 1977, and his PhD in oceanography from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks in 1986.

Dr. Dunton is currently a professor in marine science at the University of Texas at Austin. He has lived in Port Aransas since he and his wife Susan arrived from Fairbanks in 1986. They have three grown children, two of whom graduated from TAMU College Station and one from UT-Austin. He routinely cycles, surfs and swims. Learn more about Dr. Dunton here and here.

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