Update

Now Archived! PolarConnect event with Sandi Thornton and the Chukchi Sea Borderland Research Team from the USCGC Healy on 8 August 2016. You can access this and other events on the PolarConnect Archives site: https://www.polartrec.com/polar-connect/archive

What Are They Doing?

A ribbon seal on the Chukchi Sea. Photo by Andrea Skloss.
A ribbon seal on the Chukchi Sea. Photo by Andrea Skloss.
The Arctic Ocean is one of the most remote locations on Earth and the area where the impact of climate change may be most strongly expressed. In the Chukchi Borderlands (CBL) area, water masses from the Arctic, Pacific and Atlantic oceans meet and interact over tremendously complex bottom topography, creating intricate currents and sea ice drifts. It is also the region of the most dramatic summer sea ice meltdown in the last decades. This project is a multi-disciplinary group effort to explore marine communities from microbes to mammals and from sea ice to seafloor in this poorly known, bathymetrically and hydrographically complex Arctic region. We will use a combination of photographic mapping using ROV, physical sampling, and state-of-the-art metagenomics to assess the diversity of this region. Field work involves a ~30-day icebreaker cruise in the summer of 2016, with use of the ROV Global Explorer that provides unique opportunities to capture fragile pelagic organisms and observe benthic fauna in relation to the bathymetric and geomorphological features of the seafloor.

Where Are They?

The crew readys the CTD at dusk aboard the USCGC Healy icebreaker. Photo by Andrea Skloss.
The crew readys the CTD at dusk aboard the USCGC Healy icebreaker. Photo by Andrea Skloss.
The team will live and work from the United States Coast Guard Cutter/Icebreaker Healy. The USCGC Healy is a research vessel designed to conduct a wide range of research activities and can break through 4 ½ feet of ice continuously. They will travel in the Northern Chukchi Sea.

Latest Journals

As a PolarTREC fellow/NOAA Teacher at Sea I have been privileged to participate in the Chukchi Borderlands Expedition. In these capacities I have gotten to explore the many different types of research being conducted during this expedition, had access to an amazing group of scientists, students,…
Today was my PolarConnect event, and it was great to have the opportunity to share my experiences with attendees. There were some great questions asked, and I am grateful to the scientists who attended and shared their enthusiasm and expertise. One of the biggest positives I have experienced on…
Camaraderie And Lasagna Saturday evenings on the Healy have usually included a "morale event". A different group prepares the evening meal to give the regular crew a break, and there are often movies or other activities afterward. This week was the science group's turn to prepare dinner. A few…
Lessons Learned I have been preparing for Monday's PolarConnect session and reflecting on the past several weeks. So many really exciting things have happened that it almost became routine to be amazed, and I know it will take me a while to process all that I have seen and experienced. The…
Dates
-
Location
USCGC Healy, Northern Chukchi Sea
Project Funded Title
Ocean Exploration: Chukchi Borderland project
Sandra Thornton - Teacher
Teacher
Broadwater Academy

Sandra Thornton teaches biological and physical science courses at Broadwater Academy on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. A narrow peninsula that separates the Chesapeake Bay from the Atlantic Ocean, the Eastern Shore's abundant natural resources set the stage for extending classroom studies in marine and environmental sciences. A lifelong love of science, fostered by parents and teachers who encouraged her to explore the world around her, motivates Mrs. Thornton to instill this same love of learning in her students. Thornton holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in Biology, and feels fortunate to have a career that allows her to combine a passion for science with working with teens. When not teaching, Mrs. Thornton is an avid reader who loves to travel and explore with her husband.

Katrin Iken - Researcher
Researcher
University of Alaska Fairbanks

Dr. Katrin Iken is one of the lead investigators of the Chukchi Borderland project and is a benthic ecologist with particular interest in the Arctic ecosystem. She studies benthic community structure with focus on the biodiversity and structure of epibenthic communities, i.e., the organisms that live on the surface of the seafloor. She also studies food web structures through stable isotope analysis. Katrin has been working in the Arctic for over 15 years, with significant time spent in the field in the summers; previous to her Arctic work, she was mostly engaged in Antarctic research. Aside from several other Arctic research projects, Katrin also is active in the international Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program of CAFF (Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna, an Arctic Council Working group) as the US benthic expert member. Katrin received her PhD at the Alfred Wegner Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) in Germany and did post-doctoral work at the AWI and the University of Alabama at Birmingham before starting a faculty position at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Sarah Hardy - Researcher
Researcher
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Russell Hopcroft - Researcher
Researcher
University of Alaska

Chukchi Sea Borderland Resources

Overview

Humans hold special relationships with the natural resources by which they are surrounded. These connections are increasingly being challenged by changing climate patterns, availability of resources, and societal changes. In this activity students will investigate the cultural importance of an Arctic plant or animal.

Lesson
Arctic
Less than a week
All Aged
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I was a member of the Chukchi Borderlands: Hidden Ocean 2016 expedition, funded through the NOAA Ocean Exploration Program, on board the US Coast Guard Cutter Healy. A majority of the six-week mission was based above the Arctic Circle. This expedition brought together many discipline components to provide a better picture of marine biodiversity and conditions in the Chukchi Borderlands.

Report
Arctic
Download and Share

Overview

This lesson allows students to learn about the Arctic through a challenging question and answer game format. Inspired by experiences in the Hidden Ocean 2016: Chukchi Borderlands expedition, the game includes “careers”, “animals”, “equipment”, “climate change”, and “geography” components. The game may be used as a learning tool, a review tool, or an assessment tool.

Lesson
Arctic
About 1 period
Middle School and Up
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Teacher Sandra Thornton discusses research and life aboard the USCGC Healy in the Chukchi Sea Borderland.

This article appeared in The Eastern Shore News and may also be found at DelmarvaNow.

Article
Arctic
All Aged