Russian American Long term Census of the Arctic


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What Are They Doing?

Scientists Sampling in the Chukchi SeaScientists Sampling in the Chukchi Sea The Russian-American Long-term Census of the Arctic (RUSALCA) is a joint NOAA/Russian Academy of Sciences sponsored program whose mission is to document the long-term ecosystem health of the Pacific Arctic Ecosystem. Research cruises through the Bering Strait and Chukchi Sea in both U.S. and Russian waters provide the ability for sampling irrespective of political or exclusive economic zone boundaries.

These seas and the life within them are biologically rich and are thought to be particularly sensitive to global climate change because they are in areas where steep thermohaline and nutrient gradients in the ocean coincide with steep thermal gradients in the atmosphere. The Bering Strait acts as the only Pacific gateway into and out of the Arctic Ocean and as such is critical for the flux of heat between the Arctic and the rest of the world. One of the overall goals of the entire project was to monitor the flux of fresh and salt water in the region and to establish benchmark information about the distribution and migration patterns of the biologically rich life in these seas. Dr. Grebmeier's research on this final cruise of the project was particularly focused on benthic biological communities and their associated sediment chemistry.

Where Are They?

Chukchi Sea, just north of the Bering StraitThe team of U.S. and Russian scientists traveled on the Russian research vessel (R/V) Professor Khromov in order to conduct sampling in both the Russian and U.S. waters of the Bering and Chukchi Seas.


Sieving core
I'm writing this a day early because tomorrow will be pretty crazy and shipboard email connections shut down tonight. We're taking a slightly round about way to Nome via the Siberian coast. Kate (mammals) and Declan (birds) missed their opportunity to survey here because we were close to the coast over night the last time. Once we picked up a few hours, they were very happy to hear that we'd be headed back this way on our way "home" to Nome. We'll be arriving in Nome on the 16th in the early morning and will be at the dock by noon. Jackie and I have already started packing, labeling and...
We'll reach the last station that Jackie will do early tomorrow morning, and then we'll really start packing. Today we inventoried and sealed up the buckets with all of the samples from the van Veen grabs. That's a small start compared to all we'll have to do once the boxes come out of the hold and everyone gets to work packing, sorting, and cleaning up. Today's journal covers those on board who are not only working with a team but who are also collecting samples and data for their own individual projects the adding to their already packed workloads. Monika was really excited when she...
Benthic Biologist
With a busy day ahead of us today, I wrote this journal last night just before our last station. Dr. Stanislav Denisenko, Vladimir Skvortsov, Mikhail Zhukov and Aleksey Merkulyev are all from the Zoological Institute, St. Petersburg, and Stanislav and Vladimir also work with the State Polar Academy in St. Petersburg where Mikhail is a student. Together they make up the Russian benthic team. Even though they usually take their own sediment samples at different stations, they are always there to help when Jackie, Monika and I are doing grabs and cores. When they do their own sampling, they...
Jackie's core
We've now made it back to the stations we missed due to the weather and, starting yesterday around 3 PM, we did an afternoon station, another at 2:30 this morning, and one more right after breakfast. We'll have another right after dinner, and then three more to wrap things up. There may be a few other short stations in between. The original cruise plan called for these stations to be done right after we started, but the storm changed all of that. Most of the time when we go on deck to work, the Russian team of geologists is there as well. Their team is actually made up of four smaller...
Kate and Declan
With the exception of short stops for geology and benthic grabs for the Russian teams, we've been transiting for two days. While some on board have had a break there are two scientists who are rarely seen when the ship is moving during daylight hours. That's because they spend the majority of that time on the bridge watching for birds (Declan Troy) and marine mammals (Kate Stafford). Declan is originally from Toronto, but he now lives in Anchorage where he does his own research and goes out on research cruises when he finds one heading for an interesting area. He had heard of the RUSALCA...

Project Information

26 August 2012 to 16 September 2012
Location: Bering Strait and Chukchi Sea
Project Funded Title: Russian-American Long-term Census of the Arctic (RUSALCA)

Meet the Team

Betty Carvellas's picture
Teacher Advisory Council – The National Academies
Essex Junction, VT
United States

Betty Carvellas retired in 2007 after teaching science for 39 years at the middle and high school levels. She was a founding member of the National Academies Teacher Advisory Council (TAC) and currently serves as the Teacher Leader for the TAC. Her interests include interdisciplinary teaching, connecting “school” science to the real world, and bringing the practice of science into the classroom. Throughout her career, she traveled extensively on her own and with students. Her professional service includes work at the local, state and national levels. She served as co-chair of the education committee and was a member of the executive board of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents and is a past president of the National Association of Biology Teachers. Included among her awards are the Outstanding Science Teacher-Vermont (1981), Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (1984), and a Christa McAuliffe fellowship. Betty has embarked on a number of collaborative expeditions such as PolarTREC, and has participated in seven research expeditions in the Arctic. In 2008, she was designated a lifetime National Associate of the National Research Council of the National Academies.

Jacqueline Grebmeier's picture
University of Maryland Center for Environmental Sciences
Solomons, MD
United States

Jacqueline Grebmeier is currently a research professor at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Sciences (Chesapeake Biological Laboratory). Over the last 25 years, her arctic field research program has focused on such topics as understanding biological productivity in arctic waters and sediments, and documenting longer-term trends in ecosystem health of arctic continental shelves, including studying the importance of bottom dwelling organisms to higher levels of the arctic food web, such as walrus, gray whale, and diving sea ducks. Dr. Grebmeier has served on numerous advisory committees and research boards, and has coordinated and participated in numerous international research projects. Dr. Grebmeier has been involved with numerous teacher experience and education programs in the Arctic, including hosting TREC teachers in 2004, 2006 and PolarTREC in 2007.