Check out Lisa's 2012 Expedition and researcher's notes from 2013
Lisa participated in an expedition to Barrow, AK with this team in the summer of 2012. You can begin following this expedition by checking in on the past journals at Oceanographic Conditions of Bowhead Whale Habitat 2013.

What Are They Doing?

Bowhead whale surfacing in the Arctic OceanBowhead whale surfacing in the Arctic Ocean The research team worked out of Barrow, Alaska, at the juxtaposition of two Arctic seas; the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. It is a region frequently traveled by the endangered bowhead whale. This project had its genesis in understanding why the region near Barrow, Alaska is a feeding hotspot for migrating bowhead whales, and the whales and their prey will continue to be a focus of the team's interpretations. The research team conducted oceanographic sampling of the physical and biological marine environment in the region over the period 2005-2011 and observed significant inter-annual variability. Long-term studies of the ocean conditions in the Arctic are needed in order to understand how these environments vary inter-annually. The research team will continue to document conditions in the biological-physical ocean ecosystem, through annual boat-based surveys in order to predict and understand potential impacts of climate change on the Arctic ecosystem.

¿Quienes son?

Titulo financiado: Observación anual del medio ambiente marino biológico y físico en los mares Chukchi y Beauford en las cercanías de Barrow, AK.

El equipo de investigación viajará por avión a Barrow, una comunidad pequeña de aproximadamente 4,500 habitantes en la costa norte de Alaska. Como permitan las condiciones del tiempo, el equipo se embarcara para la colección de muestras oceanográficas a bordo del buque de investigación Annika Marie de 43 pies. Las actividades de a bordo incluirán colección de agua y plancton y mediciones de conductividad, temperatura, y profundidad. A bordo también tomarán nota sobre las ocurrencias de mamíferos marinos y realizarán el procesamiento preliminar de muestras. Si el clima es malo para navegar en el océano ellos pasarán el tiempo en Barrow catalogando muestras y organizándose para los días que pasaran sobre el agua.

Where Are They?

Bowhead whale bones along the shore of the Arctic Ocean, Barrow, AlaskaBowhead whale bones along the shore of the Arctic Ocean, Barrow, Alaska The research team traveled by plane to Barrow, a small community of approximately 4,500 people on the north coast of Alaska. As weather permitted, the team embarked on oceanographic sampling trips on board the 50-foot research vessel Ukpik. Activities on board included water and plankton sampling and measurements of conductivity, temperature and depth. The team also noted the occurrences of marine mammals and conducted preliminary sample processing on board. When the weather was too poor for ocean travel they spent time in Barrow cataloguing samples and organizing for future days on the water.

¿Qué están haciendo?

Localidad: : Barrow, Alaska

El equipo de investigación trabajara desde Barrow AK, en la yuxtaposición de dos mares Árticos: los mares Chukchi y Beaufort. Es una región frecuentemente viajada por la ballena bowhead, una especie en peligro de extinción. El génesis del proyecto es el entender porque la región cercana a Barrow AK es un área central para alimentación de ballenas migratorias bowhead, y las ballenas y sus presas continuaran siendo el enfoque con la interpretación que haga el equipo. El equipo de investigación realizo muestreos oceanográficos del medio ambiente físico y biológico en la región durante el periodo de 2005 al 2011 y observo una variabilidad interanual significante. Estudios de largo plazo de las condiciones oceánicas en el ártico son necesarias para entender como estos medios varían inter-anualmente. El equipo de investigación continuara la documentación de condiciones en el ecosistema biológico-físico oceánico, mediante exploraciones anuales, para poder predecir y entender impactos potenciales climáticos en el ecosistema ártico.

Project Information

Dates: 1 August 2014 to 1 September 2014
Location: Barrow, AK
Project Funded Title: Annual Observations of the Biological and Physical Marine Environment in the Chukchi and near-shore Beaufort Seas near Barrow, AK




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Meet the Team

Lisa Seff's picture
Springs School
East Hampton, NY
United States

Lisa has enjoyed teaching at Springs School, located in East Hampton New York, for the past 17 years where she also lives with her husband Gary. Her teaching certifications include biology, earth science, general science and elementary education and she recently earned her National Board Teacher Certification in Early Adolescent Science. In 2012 Lisa became a PolarTREC educator joining Dr. Carin Ashjian, Dr. Robert Campbell and Dr. Steve Okkonen in Barrow Alaska. While there they studied the physical and biological oceanographic conditions of the bowhead whale habitat. This year she's very excited to reconnect the Springs community with the research team on a new and exciting Arctic-based research project in the Beaufort Sea!

Carin Ashjian's picture
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Woods Hole, MA
United States

Dr. Carin Ashjian studies marine biology and ecology with a special interest in the ecology of zooplankton in the Polar Regions, as these ecosystems may be significantly impacted by climate change. Her studies have taken her to both the Arctic and the Antarctic. For eleven years, she worked near Utqiaġvik/Barrow AK using a research vessel to study how and why this region is a feeding hotspot for bowhead whales during their fall migration from Canada to the Bering Sea. She also has worked from much larger research vessels, the USCGC Healy and the R/V SIkuliaq, to study zooplankton in the Bering, Chukchi, and Beaufort Seas. Past research has taken her to the Sea of Japan, the Norwegian Sea, Georges Bank, the Gulf Stream, and the California Current. She is a Senior Scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution where she has worked since 1995.

Steve Okkonen's picture
University of Alaska Fairbanks

Dr. Steve Okkonen has two jobs. For the past 37 years, he has spent the summer months as a commercial salmon fisherman in Cook Inlet, Alaska. Over the last 20 years, he has spent the fall, winter, and spring months as a University of Alaska Fairbanks physical oceanographer studying ocean currents in Alaskan waters. Most recently, he has worked with Dr. Carin Ashjian, Dr. Robert Campbell and whale biologists to find out why the Barrow area is a feeding hotspot for bowhead whales and beluga whales. They are now expanding their study to identify relationships between ocean currents and the migration of bowhead whales.

Latest Comments

Hello Nicolas You've done a good job answering Ms. Seff's questions. Another good resource for earth science questions you and your classmates might have is http://www.nnvl.noaa....
Hello Logan Good answers. As Ms. Seff is having your class think about climate, some excellent earth science videos that you can share with your classmates are at http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/cgi-...
Hello Julia You've got a pretty good handle on the reasons for differences in the climates of Iceland and Greenland. You can check every day to see what the entire Arctic looks like at...
Hello Jeremy Some very cool animations of winds and hurricanes in the North Atlantic and in the Pacific are at http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/details.cgi?aid=4240 Check out all three...
Hello Eileen Good answers. You can follow changes in sea surface temperature (SST) in the North Atlantic and elsewhere in the world at http://www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/ocean/sst/contour...