Category Archives: News

February 6, 2019

‘In Hot Water’, Science magazine features Blob impacts in the Gulf of Alaska

In a recent article published in the journal Science, reporter Warren Cornwall writes:

Five years after an unusual pattern of warm water started to form in the Gulf of Alaska, scientists are starting to understand the sweeping ecological impacts of an underwater heat wave that became known as The Blob. From tiny algae to humpback whales, the warm patch of water that eventually stretched across much of the west coast of North America touched virtually every level of the ecosystems there. Although the Blob has now faded, its effects continue to be felt. This research comes at a time of growing scientific interest, and mounting concern, about these underwater heat waves. Scientists now predict they will become more intense, more frequent, and longer lasting over this century, because of climate change. Blob-like temperatures are expected to become the new normal in the northeast Pacific Ocean by midcentury.”

The article spotlights Blob-related findings from the GulfWatch Alaska program for copepods (PI: Russ Hopcroft), forage fish (PI: Mayumi Arimitsu), and seabirds (PI: John Piatt), as well as includes research from program partners at NOAA and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

The article can be accessed at:  Cornwall, In Hot Water Science 363 (6426) 10.1126/science.363.6426.442 (2019).

February 1, 2019

30 years later, researchers are still learning from the Exxon Valdez oil spill

Photo credit: Kristen Durand

The Exxon Valdez oil spill that happened almost 30 years ago has left a scientific legacy in the marine science research field that’s now being used as a powerful research tool to evaluate the impact of other spills around the world.

At the 2019 Alaska Marine Science Symposium, a session was held to examine how these observations informed the understanding of more recent oil spills, like the 2007 Hebei Spirit spill in South Korea and the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

To read the full KTUU article visit: https://www.ktuu.com/content/news/How-researchers-are-learning-from-the-Exxon-Valdez-oil-spill-30-years-later-505118341.html

December 5, 2018

Quarterly Currents vol 2.3

The latest version of the Quarterly Currents v2.3 (August 1, 2018 to November 1, 2018) newsletter is now available. The program submitted FY19 Work Plans to the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council (EVOSTC) in August and recommendations by the Science Review Panel, Science Coordinator, Public Advisory Committee, and the Trustees were to fully fund all projects including some additional unfunded needs. This long-term ecosystem level monitoring program stands out as a hallmark for Alaska providing a wealth of information to the scientific community, resource managers and the public. We greatly appreciate the EVOSTC support and positive feedback. Read this latest edition for a summary of the third quarter activities and accomplishments.

September 21, 2018

In Alaska, Starving Seabirds and Empty Colonies Signal a Broken Ecosystem

In 2016, tens of thousands of Common Murres washed up dead on beaches lining the Gulf of Alaska. Several more mass seabird die-offs have occurred in the region since then. Photo: Mark Thiessen/AP

Mass die-offs and breeding failures, now ongoing for years, have marine biologists worried that this is a new normal caused by climate change.

To read the full Audubon article which features  some Gulf Watch Alaska and Northern Gulf of Alaska LTER scientists visit: https://www.audubon.org/news/in-alaska-starving-seabirds-and-empty-colonies-signal-broken-ecosystem

August 9, 2018

Quarterly Currents vol 2.2

The latest version of the Quarterly Currents v2.2 (May 1, 2018 to July 31, 2018) newsletter is now available. The Gulf Watch Alaska program has sailed through the second quarter of year 7. Field work was the dominant theme this quarter, which started out blustery and cool in May and early June but warmed up in July. Read this latest edition for a summary of the program’s summer activities and accomplishments.

July 30, 2018

Feature Video: Science and Stewardship: Keys to Restoring Kachemak Bay

Gulf Watch Alaska researcher, Kris Holderied with the NOAA National Centers of Coastal Ocean Science and Kasitsna Bay Lab, is working with many partners to study the bay ecosystem, monitor invasive species, and develop risk assessment tools within Alaska’s Kachemak Bay Habitat Focus Area. Watch THIS VIDEO to learn more.

June 25, 2018

Quarterly Currents vol 2.1

The latest version of the Quarterly Current vol 2.1 (February 1, 2018 to April 31, 2018) is now available. This issue launches year 7 of the Gulf Watch Alaska (GWA) monitoring program funded by the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council (EVOSTC). In this first quarter program researchers busily geared up for field work. Spring being a bit nippy this year, field teams wore extra layers. Read this latest edition for a brief first quarter summary of our program activities and accomplishments.

May 10, 2018

Delta Sound Connections

The turquoise waters of Eyak Lake are backed up by the Chugach Mountains and the Copper River Delta. Inset: A variety of ecosystems can all be found within a 100-mile radius of Cordova. Photos by Teal Barmore

The Prince William Sound Science Center is pleased to announce the release of the 2018-2018 edition of the Delta Sound Connections. This annual natural history and science news publication is dedicated to the ecosystems of Prince William Sound, the Copper River watershed, and northern Gulf of Alaska. Delta Sound Connections highlights various research and education programs taking place in our region, right now.

May 3, 2018

Seth Danielson Studies the ‘Motion of the Ocean’ on Gulf of Alaska LTER Cruise

Seth Danielson, a GWA Principal Investigator, embarked as a Principal Investigator on the Northern Gulf of Alaska Long Term Ecological Research (NGA-LTER) research cruise aboard the R/V Sikuliaq, April 18 – May 5, 2018. This cruise continues the sampling begun in fall 1997 under the NSF/NOAA NE Pacific GLOBEC program, and supported subsequently by a consortium of the North Pacific Research Board (NPRB), the Alaska Ocean Observing System (AOOS), and the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council’s (EVOSTC) Gulf Watch.

 

Seths’s focus is on the ‘motion of the ocean’, or the oceanographic processes that drive the NGA’s productivity and make it resilient. His work involves performing CTD measurements and bottle sampling to determine the thermohaline, velocity, light, and oxygen structure of the NGA shelf, in addition to its nutrient structure.

 

To learn more about Seth’s work during the LTER cruise, watch this video short developed by the  “Microcosm” series, a documentary project that features the diversity and roles of microscopic life in the ocean.

April 27, 2018

GWA Scientist Embarks for 48th Year of Ocean Sampling in the Gulf of Alaska

Russ Hopcroft, a GWA Principal Investigator, embarked as Chief Scientist on the Northern Gulf of Alaska Long Term Ecological Research (NGA-LTER) research cruise aboard the R/V Sikuliaq, April 18 – May 5, 2018. This cruise continues the sampling begun in fall 1997 under the NSF/NOAA NE Pacific GLOBEC program, and supported subsequently by a consortium of the North Pacific Research Board (NPRB), the Alaska Ocean Observing System (AOOS), and the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council’s (EVOSTC) Gulf Watch. This is the first cruise as part of the NGA-LTER  funded by the National Science Foundation. The core scientific purpose of the Seward Line project is to develop an understanding of the response and resiliency of this marine ecosystem to climate variability. This cruise marks the 21st consecutive spring cruise for the Seward Line in the NGA, including Prince William Sound (PWS), and the 48th year of observations at GAK1.

 

Check out the Meet the Chief Scientist video or the cruise’s Science Update to learn more. Or, read the research cruise post on the NGA-LTER website or follow the latest Tweets (@sikuliaq) .

 

Happy sailing, Russ!