North Pacific Research Board Announces Funding Decisions for Arctic Integrated Ecosystem Research Program

June 14, 2016
By Jessica Rohde

Research vessel Sikuliaq at Woods Hole, Massachusetts, USA.

Photo by James Buchanan

North Pacific Research Board (NPRB) and funding partners Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the Collaborative Alaskan Arctic Studies Program (CAASP, formerly the North Slope Borough/Shell Baseline Studies Program), and Office of Naval Research Marine Mammal and Biology Program are pleased to announce funding decisions for the Arctic Integrated Ecosystem Research Program (IERP). Twenty-seven researchers from eleven institutions have been awarded funds totaling $7.75 million. Funding decisions are contingent upon approval by the US Secretary of Commerce. Accounting for generous in-kind support offered by the applicants, the program will represent an investment of $15.5 million during 2016-2021. In addition, several research programs funded by other agencies have expressed commitment to collaborate.

This historic Integrated Ecosystem Research Program will study the northern Bering and Chukchi Seas during spring through fall to better understand how changes in physical environmental drivers influence the structure and function of the biological system and access to subsistence resources.

A team from the University of Alaska Fairbanks will use the icebreaker Sikuliaq to conduct process studies of oceanography and lower trophic levels during late May-early June as sea ice retreats from the northern Bering and southern Chukchi Seas. They will conduct onboard incubations to measure growth, respiration and deposition rates of phytoplankton and zooplankton and will examine how physical processes structure the Chukchi Sea shelf ecosystem. Moored instruments will record oceanographic conditions and the presence of vocalizing marine mammals in the study area year-round.

During summer and fall, a team of scientists led by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will conduct observations of oceanography, lower trophic levels, fish, and seabirds over the U.S. Chukchi Sea shelf from Bering Strait to Barrow. They will examine in detail the physical and ecological factors that influence the distribution of fish.

Social science will be conducted by a team that includes Principal Investigators from the North Slope and Northwest Arctic Boroughs and the Bering Strait region. This project will develop meaningful interaction with Alaska Native communities to explore changing patterns of access to subsistence resources and food security.

More information about the research projects that comprise the Arctic IERP may be found on our website: www.nprb.org/arctic-program

Posted by Jessica Rohde on behalf of Danielle Dickson, NPRB

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