Related Research Areas
Carbon Cycle & Ecosystems

We propose to examine the long-term, seasonal variability of primary production as a function of changes in sea ice cover, stratification, and temperature regimes measured in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas (BCS) throughout the growing season. We propose to accomplish this by taking high frequency observations provided by autonomous drifters with near-real time satellite communication. For the shallow water of the Chukchi Sea, we will build a surface drifting buoy with a 20 m long string of instruments. For the deeper waters to the north of the Chukchi Sea and in the deep Beaufort Sea, we will build an ARGO float that will cycle between 300 m depth and the surface. Both drifters will have thermistors (to examine warming and possible temperature regulation of biological processes at cold, sub-zero temperatures), conductivity cell(s) (to observe stratification/mixed layer depth), dissolved oxygen sensor(s) (to determine primary production), and fluorometer/backscattering(s) (to determine phytoplankton biomass which then allows primary production estimates by published, empirical, Arctic Ocean-specific algorithms). The floats will, in addition, have a nitrate sensor to estimate NO3- consumption, new production and net community production. We will use these single point field measurements to validate key remotely sensed variables such as sea surface temperature and salinity (SST and SSS), chlorophyll a, and primary production. We will also use these satellite data to scale up the single point drifter measurements to the regional scales of the BCS. Finally, the combination of a recently compiled data set of historical values of pan-arctic primary production and chlorophyll a with an existing Arctic Ocean hydrographic database will allow examination of case studies (retrospective and forward) in order to better understand the temporal evolution of primary productivity and its physical controls in this rapidly changing ecosystem over the spring, summer, and fall seasons. The paucity of existing primary production data in the BCS, and the Arctic Ocean as a whole, in space and time and the difficulty of obtaining higher frequency data by expensive and infrequent ship-based measurements beg for a field based approach that is complementary to, and supportive of, the cloud and ice limited satellite measurements possible in the BCS.

Project PI: Michael Steele/University of Washington

Polar Science Center Applied Physics Laboratory University of Washington 1013 NE 40th Street Box 355640 Seattle, WA 98105-6698

Phone: (206) 543-6586



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Started: Sep 29, 2010

Last Activity: Jan 05, 2011


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