Ecosystems Fisheries-Oceanography Coordinated Investigations EcoFOCI Bering Sea Ice

Bering Sea-Ice Expedition
Research Activities - Operations Plan

The Bering Sea Ice-Edge Expedition is a two-ship operation. The primary ship is the Research Vessel Thomas G. Thompson. The Thompson will spend the majority of a month at or near the ice-edge in the Bering Sea. The NOAA ship Miller Freeman will join the Thompson for roughly 6 days in order to get simultaneous measurements in or near the ice and some distance away.

Scientists from the Thompson will visit ice floes to drill cores in the sea ice. Physical (salinity, temperature), chemical (nutrient concentrations), and biological properties (chlorophyll concentrations and phytoplankton species) of the ice and surrounding seawater will be measured. Satellite-tracked drifters will be deployed in the water (and possibly on an ice floe) to track the movement of water (or ice). Satellites provide information about the location of these drifters as they move for months after deployment, allowing analysis of current speeds and directions (see EcoFOCI long-term drifter movies). Zooplankton samples will be collected from the seawater using nets. In addition marine mammals and seabirds will be counted and classified from the bridge of the Thompson. Scientists will also attach satellite transmitters to ribbon seals. The satellite tags will allow scientists to track the movements of these little-known animals after the ice melts.

The Miller Freeman will rendezvous with the Thompson near the ice edge for a 6 day period of intense two-ship observations. Divers from the Miller Freeman will take pictures of the underside of the ice and collect samples of planktonic organisms attached to or congregating underneath individual ice floes. Acoustic instruments (fish finders) will be used to count and classify fishes in the region. Nets will also be used in ice-free areas. In addition, physical and chemical properties of the water will be measured.

NOAA Ship Miller Freeman in Kodiak Alaska. Photo from the Miller Freeman website. Research Vessel Thomas G.Thompson. Photo from the Thompson website.
NOAA - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration