Ocean Ecosystems

Current Research Highlights

From the Cetacean Assessment and Ecology Program (CAEP):
The Marine Mammal Laboratory (MML) Acoustics Group features three JISAO scientists, Dana Wright, Arial Brewer, and Dan Woodrich, who are co-authors on a paper accepted by the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America: Song production by the North Pacific right whale, Eubalaena japonica. This is the first report of singing by any right whale species and is particularly interesting given the critically endangered status of this species. Lead author is Jessica Crance from MML.

From the Innovative Technology for Arctic Exploration (ITAE) Project:
Technologies enhanced or developed through ITAE are being used in a variety of ways to meet NOAA missions. A few examples from the program’s major developments are as follows;

  • Data collected from PRAWLERS are integrated into NOAA’s observing system portfolio and provide actionable science to fulfill a long-standing science gap by providing real-time information for consideration of stakeholders and managers. The adapted ice-friendly PRAWLER, the flotation controllable ocean mooring (FCOM), will be integrated into NOAA’s biophysical mooring Arctic observing system portfolio (held by EcoFOCI) and provide actionable science to fulfill long-standing science gaps by providing real-time information for scientists and future consideration of stakeholders and managers as vessel traffic increases and commercial fishing move into the north.
  • Incorporating the low-cost, high resolution sampling of the pop-up float into the US Arctic observing network to improve our understanding of how these features, especially ice retreat, affect the dynamic ecosystem. Their cost advantages can be best leveraged to provide improved spatial coverage over this enormous area, where observations are typically sparse.
  • Data collected using this the saildrone technology has provided unique and groundbreaking insights which may change our understanding of marine ecosystems and inform conservation management decisions in Alaska. The data collected can improve the accuracy of large ecosystem models in predicting changes in the ecosystem, protecting marine mammals, and aiding in fisheries management. Findings address mandates ESA, MMPA, MSA and NEPA to integrate research into the decision-making process. Through this public-private partnership, the team developed a unique capability that will revolutionize ocean-based, remotely collected data. By employing the Saildrone as a reconnaissance vehicle, data can be collected to assist in better weather forecasts, nautical charts, as well as maximizing efficiency for traditional ship-based activities that are not yet well suited to autonomous research.
  • The ability to measure total alkalinity is a key need for understanding the variability of calcium carbonate saturation states and ocean acidification in the world’s oceans, as well as the impact of ocean acidification on some shell (calcium carbonate) forming organisms that are most affected by ocean acidification. Our goal with this development activity is to continue to improve the CONTROS HydroFIA® TA systems for wide deployments. If successful, this instrument development will provide an important tool for understanding the vulnerability and response of marine ecosystems to acidification. Successful commercialization of the upgrades to this alkalinity sensor will greatly broaden the impacts of the technology, making it available to the ocean sciences community through subsequent generations of this commercialized system. Testing this sensor in the Arctic will ensure that it is marketable beyond the easy- access and warm-water environments for which ocean technologies are typically designed.
  • Incorporating air-launched profiling floats (ALAMO) to elucidate changes in climate in support of NOAA’s mission of providing the resources necessary to secure the Nation’s safety and prosperity.

From the Ecosystems and Fisheries-Oceanography Coordinated Investigations Program (EcoFOCI):
As a result of warming, major changes have occurred in the Arctic Ocean ecosystem during the last 15 years and these changes are expected to continue for the foreseeable future. There is a paucity of basic measurements in U.S. Arctic. For instance, the basic currents, including transport, are still being discussed and modified. Outside of DBO/NCIS, NOAA is supporting very little research in the U.S. Arctic, but through partnerships with BOEM and NPRB, EcoFOCI is maintaining an array of moorings and conducting ecosystem cruises. More than five years of mooring deployments in the Chukchi allowed us to identify four locations (C1, C2, C3 and C4) at which long-term measurements need to be collected to better characterize this changing ecosystem.

Previous Research Highlights

There are only a few hundred North Pacific right whales in existence. Past whaling decimated their population. What can be done now to avoid them becoming extinct? NOAA and JISAO personnel at the AFSC manage the most complete database on these whales, and are striving to learn more about their behavior and requirements. A key aspect of this work involves fitting individual whales with tags so that they can be tracked via satellite. JISAO scientist Amy Kennedy is one of the world’s experts in this kind of work. It is very challenging because these whales are so few in number. But it is also necessary, because this kind of information is essential for establishing critical habitats for North Pacific right whales as part of the Endangered Species Act.

Types of Research

  1. Fish ecosystem studies and management
  2. Ocean Forecasting
  3. Ocean acidification
  4. Ocean climate variability and climate change
  5. Marine mammals

Affiliated Programs

  1. NOAA Marine Mammal Laboratory
  2. Bering Sea Climate and Ecosystem
  3. Ecosystems and Fisheries-Oceanography Coordinated Investigations
  4. J-SCOPE
  5. Innovative Technology for Arctic Exploration
  6. Cetacean Assessment and Ecology Program

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