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What Are They Doing?
During this cruise, the team collected some of the first winter information ever collected on the biology, chemistry, and physical oceanography of the Bering, Chukchi, and Beaufort Seas. In particular, they studied a very small crustacean called a copepod. Copepods make up the base of the ocean food chain. In addition to studying the ecology, scientists on board were looking at chlorophyll, marine mammals, and birds. Data collected during the cruise was used to predict future impacts of climate change on the oceans.
Where Are They?
The team lived and worked from the United States Coast Guard Icebreaker Healy. While on board, they traversed the Bering Sea and broke sea ice to reach the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. The Healy was designed from the keel up for icebreaking and polar research in diverse fields of science and engineering. There are accommodations for up to 50 scientists. The Healy is designed to break 4 feet of ice continuously at 3 knots and can operate in temperatures as low as -50 degrees F.
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.