Department of Commerce
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
NOAA performs research in the high-latitude regions of the planet in connection with its environmental assessment, monitoring and prediction responsibilities. Individual research programs focus on scientific questions addressing the Arctic environment and its relation to the global environment. NOAA also conducts research in support of services it performs, such as weather forecasting and fisheries management.
National Marine Fisheries Service
National Marine Mammal Laboratory
The Protected Resources Management Division and the National Marine Mammal Laboratory (NMML) of NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) are responsible for the protection, management and research for 22 species of marine mammals that occur commonly in that state, including five endangered species (bowhead, fin, humpback, northern right and sperm whales), one threatened species (Steller sea lion) and one depleted species (northern fur seal). Protection involves the implementation of recovery plans for the Steller sea lion and the humpback whale, the implementation of the Northern Fur Seal Conservation Plan, the development and implementation of a conservation plan for the harbor seal, and cooperation with the International Whaling Commission regarding subsistence takes of bowhead whales. In 1994, Congress amended the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), adding several new sections, including one pertaining to cooperative agreements in Alaska. The amended MMPA notes that "the Secretary may enter into cooperative agreements with Alaska Native organizations to conserve marine mammals and provide co-management of subsistence use by Alaska Natives." The amendments specifically provide NMFS with the authority to provide grants to Alaska Native organizations to:
|FY 96||FY 97|
|Atmospheric Trace Constituents||423||34|
|Marine Mammal Assessment||2,318||2,237|
|Climate and Global Change||409||478|
|Western Arctic/Bering Sea Ecosytem||0||2,331|
|Arctic Research Initiative||1,000|
The NMFS's Alaska Regional Office (AKR) has developed a program to determine subsistence takes of Steller sea lions, harbor seals and beluga whales. Through contracts with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the Cook Inlet Marine Mammal Council, comprehensive data on numbers of animals taken for subsistence, or struck and lost, each year from 1992 through 1996 have been collected. These data are critical in determining whether these animals should be listed as "strategic" under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. For several years the AKR has supported and partially funded the Alaska Native Harbor Seal Commission and is working to help establish a Native commission for the management of Steller sea lions. The AKR continues to work with the Indigenous People's Commission for Marine Mammals, the Pribilof Islands Joint Management Board, the Alaska Beluga Whale Committee and several other groups to further conservation of marine mammals taken for subsistence. The AKR has also continued the systematic collection of tissue samples from Steller sea lions, harbor seals and beluga whales in Alaska to determine whether contaminant levels in tissues intended for human consumption are at acceptable levels and also to aid in stock determination. The AKR has also been instrumental in spearheading efforts to try to overcome the negative impacts of development on the Pribilof Islands by working with the Coast Guard, EPA, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, Alaska state agencies and the residents and governments on St. Paul and St. George Islands. Finally, the AKR has been working with Russian and American marine scientists to support additional research on local problems and on the health of the overall Bering Sea ecosystem.
Some of the changes to the MMPA in 1994 significantly affected research on marine mammals in Alaska. In addition, the general trend to downsize programs within the Federal government has eroded support for several long-term research projects. For example, NMML's bowhead research program has been terminated. One of the primary accomplishments of NMML scientists in recent years was the summary of the status of all stocks of marine mammals that occur in the waters off Alaska. This volume, titled Alaska Marine Mammal Stock Assessments 1996, is available at no cost and includes summaries for each species on the following topics: stock definition, population size, minimum abundance, current trends in abundance, maximum productivity, potential biological removal levels, human-caused mortality and status.
Field research at the NMML on marine mammals in waters off central and northern Alaska has concentrated on five species in recent years: Steller sea lions, harbor seals, northern fur seals, beluga whales and gray whales. In FY 97 a survey was initiated to determine the abundance and distribution of cetaceans within 200 miles of the coastline. The FY 97 survey was the first of three planned surveys and covered southeast Alaska.
The breeding range of the Steller sea lion extends from the Kuril Islands and Okhotsk Sea, eastward through the Aleutian Islands and Gulf of Alaska, and then south to central California. The number of sea lions throughout the range has declined by over 66%, from about 300,000 in the 1960s to 116,000 in 1989; the first range-wide survey in 1994 coordinated by the NMML indicated a further decline. At present the area from southeastern Alaska through Oregon is the only region where the number of animals is not declining. Counts of animals in rookeries and haulout sites within most of Alaska showed a rapid decline between the 1970s and 1989 and a continued decline (but at a slower rate) from 1989 to 1996. The causes for the decline have not been identified.
In 1990, Steller sea lions were listed under the Endangered Species Act as threatened throughout their range; no evidence existed then to separate the species by stock. Subsequently NMML and university scientists conducted joint studies that have shown genetic differences supporting a separation in the Gulf of Alaska. These genetic data, along with supporting data on the size of pups, movement patterns, fidelity to birth sites and population trends, were judged sufficient to warrant separation of the species into two management units, a western stock and an eastern stock. The population of the eastern stock has remained stable over the past 20 years, but the western stock continues to decline, culminating in its status changing to endangered in June 1997. The eastern stock remains as threatened.
Beluga whale research has taken place annually over the last five years. The primary focus of NMML-supported beluga whale surveys has been in the Cook Inlet region. Here, in cooperation with the Alaska Beluga Whale Committee, the Cook Inlet Marine Mammal Council, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the AKR, NMML scientists have attempted to determine the abundance of a relatively small and isolated population. Aerial surveys have indicated an abundance of whales, on the order of 1000 animals. Research has also been directed toward catching and radio-tagging animals to determine movement patterns and correction factors for aerial surveys. Efforts are underway to determine if the number of animals in Cook Inlet is sufficient to support recent subsistence harvests of approximately 50 animals per year.
In the past 10 years, NOAA funding to support research on ice seals has generally not been available. At present, reliable estimates of abundance for ringed, bearded, ribbon and spotted seals are not available, although the current level of subsistence use of these animals is thought to number in the thousands annually. Therefore, the NMFS is tentatively planning to initiate surveys to determine the abundance for these species in 1998 and again in 2010. These surveys will be done in cooperation with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Native organizations, local residents and the AKR. In FY 97, NMML cooperated in year two of a three-year study on ringed seals. This work, funded by the Minerals Management Service through a grant to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, has as its objective to ascertain the extent to which ringed seal distribution is affected by industrial activities along the North Slope. A final report will be prepared after the final survey in FY 98. Annual reports are available from ADF&G on request.
The Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program (MMHSRP) was established in 1992 to facilitate the collection and dissemination of data on the health of marine mammals and health trends in marine mammal populations in the wild, to correlate these trends with available data on physical, chemical and biological environmental parameters, and to coordinate effective responses to unusual marine mammal mortalities. In 1987 the Minerals Management Service provided funds to NOAA to establish and conduct the Alaska Marine Mammal Tissue Archival Project (AMMTAP) for the collection and long-term storage of tissues from Alaska marine mammals. AMMTAP continues now in conjunction with the MMHSRP with funding provided from NMFS and DOI's National Biological Service (now the Biological Resources Division of the U.S. Geological Survey). The program involves the participation and cooperation of Federal agencies, state organizations, international agencies, universities and Native American organizations. Samples continue to be collected to determine the levels of contaminants in Alaskan marine mammals, to determine the health of populations, and to examine correlations between health and contaminant levels. In addition, the data are being used by public health organizations to examine circumpolar patterns of chlorinated hydrocarbon concentrations and the potential risk to people who eat marine mammals as subsistence foods.
MMHSRP has involved the evaluation of health and contaminant issues through the analysis and banking of marine mammal tissues from subsistence hunting activities. The NMFS's Environmental Conservation Division has spearheaded the analyses of these tissues for contaminants in collaboration with the National Institute of Standards and Technology and other international research laboratories (Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada, and Karl-Franz University, Austria). These tissues were analyzed for a variety of projects:
In FY 96 and 97, over 500 samples were acquired or analyzed for chlorinated hydrocarbons and essential and nonessential elements.
The Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) serves as the repository for the archived tissues and sera from Arctic animals. These samples are cryogenically frozen and stored for future analyses as needed when new methods are developed or as new questions are asked. In FY 96 and 97, samples were collected from 37 pinnipeds (8 species), 34 cetaceans (2 species), 28 polar bears and 3 sea otters. Currently the National Marine Specimen Bank contains tissues from 124 pinnipeds, 88 cetaceans, 28 polar bears and 3 sea otters. A quality assurance component spearheaded by NIST monitors the collection and analyses of these samples to ensure the consistency and accuracy of data. Two interlaboratory comparisons were performed during these budget years, and tissues were collected and analyzed for a new beluga whale liver control material.
Finally, health issues in these marine mammal populations are addressed through cooperation with the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology and the Department of Agriculture. Tissues from these animals are being analyzed for evidence of disease and will be stored for future analyses as needed. Sera from these animals have been banked for future studies of the presence of antibodies to specific diseases. In addition, specific analyses are being performed to monitor the presence of diseases of current concern.
All of the data collected are centralized into a database that can be accessed by researchers and managers. The information collected will help managers make risk assessment and impact decisions regarding marine mammal populations in the Arctic. In addition, these data will contribute to our current state of knowledge about the presence and possible effects of anthropogenic contaminants present in this fragile ecosystem.
Resource Assessment and Conservation Engineering
Marine Fisheries Assessment. NOAA's NMFS continued its long-standing commitment to assessment studies of U.S. living marine resources (LMRs) in the Bering Sea, Aleutian Islands and Gulf of Alaska during 1996 and 1997. This effort includes fishery-independent resource surveys, collection of data from commercial fisheries through fisheries observers, collection of recreational and commercial harvest statistics, and basic population biology and ecological research. The scientific information generated by these activities supports Federal fishery conservation and management responsibilities in the 200-mile U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
The Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC) in Seattle continues to annually assess the stock condition for most species of marine finfish and shellfish having commercial, recreational or ecological significance in western U.S. Arctic waters (the Bering Sea, Aleutian Islands and Gulf of Alaska). These assessments provide measures of population abundance independent of those derived from analyses of catch and landing statistics, and they also address the status and health of the marine ecosystem as a whole. Information syntheses incorporate identification of stock units, short-term prediction of abundance trends, biological interaction of species and species groups, and general ecosystem response to environmental change. When combined with data from the commercial fleet (that is, fishing effort, location, catch composition, fish size/age, etc.) collected through the AFSC's Observer Program, AFSC stock assessments provide recommendations for managing the fisheries and conserving the supporting resource base.
LMR populations are sampled at sea aboard NOAA ships, chartered fishing vessels and cooperating foreign research vessels. Significant area-extensive survey efforts rotate every three years between the eastern Bering Sea, the Aleutian Islands and Gulf of Alaska, and the west coast of the U.S. During intervening years, standardized AFSC assessment surveys are conducted within each region. Annual estimates of stock abundance are completed for commercially important species, such as walleye pollock, Pacific cod, sablefish, yellowfin sole and king and Tanner crabs. Dedicated scientific cruises are also conducted to study biological and physical processes that affect stock assessments.
The principal survey methods include bottom trawls for demersal fish and crabs, hydroacoustic and midwater trawls for semipelagic fish, and special-purpose nets for eggs, larvae and juvenile fish and shellfish. Trawl and acoustic surveys are used to estimate biomass and define community structure; biological collections are taken to examine variability in growth, mortality and stock recruitment. In FY 96 the AFSC continued the annual bottom trawl survey effort of Bering Sea groundfish and crab and conducted the triennial bottom trawl survey of Gulf of Alaska groundfish. Winter and summer echo integration/trawl (EIT) surveys of pollock in the Bering Sea and a winter survey of pollock in Shelikof Straits in the Gulf of Alaska were also conducted. In 1997 the AFSC triennial survey effort was directed at the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands, where bottom trawl surveys of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands were conducted, as well as a summer EIT survey of pollock in the Bering Sea. Winter EIT surveys of pollock in the Bering Sea and Shelikof Straits were also conducted.
Recruitment indices and processes that generate variations in abundance are studied to improve prediction through the Fisheries-Oceanography Coordinated Investigations (FOCI). FOCI is a cooperative program between the AFSC and NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) in Seattle. To increase the accuracy and precision of these assessments, AFSC scientists conduct biological research to define recruitment processes, develop computer models to simulate interactions and dynamics of population change, and conduct or collaborate in extramural studies to improve sampling methods and survey designs.
Pacific Salmon. The five species of Pacific salmon in the Alaska region are one of the Nation's most valuable resources. The salmon in the vast marine areas off Alaska are managed via a complex mixture of domestic and international bodies, treaties, regulations and agreements. Research objectives are to:
Ocean Carrying Capacity. Auke Bay Laboratory's Ocean Carrying Capacity Program continues the NMFS role in the stewardship of living marine resources of the North Pacific. Early research efforts focused on measuring and assessing the effects of various high-seas fisheries such as the Japanese mothership salmon fishery and the high-seas driftnet squid fisheries. Much of the expertise, biological methodology and working relationships developed while addressing those issues is now directed towards understanding the effects of environmental and biological interactions on the productivity of the North Pacific. This research program bridges the gap between ongoing coastal ecosystems studies in Prince William Sound and the high-seas Carrying Capacity and Climate Change study developed by the North Pacific Marine Sciences Organization (PICES) and North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission (NPAFC) scientists from Canada, Japan, Russia and the U.S. For the past two years the research activities have included:
Survey efforts in support of these activities have ranged from inside waters of southeastern Alaska to the Aleutian Islands.
National Ocean Service
NOAA/NOS conducts environmental research and monitoring, performs information synthesis, and disseminates data and information products to support management decisions affecting coastal and marine resources and environments in the U.S. Arctic. These activities date back to 1974 as part of the Outer Continental Shelf Environmental Assessment Program (OCSEAP), which was established under an interagency agreement between NOAA and the Bureau of Land Management. The program was designed to plan, conduct and report on a suite of multi-disciplinary studies responding to the specific needs, goals and objectives of the Department of the Interior in its decisions on oil and gas leasing off the coast of Alaska. From 1974 to 1992, OCSEAP produced a mammoth record of research reports and other data products, culminating in a 74-volume series of OCSEAP final reports and a bibliography consisting of over 4000 entries. OCSEAP research and information products, such as oil spill trajectory and weathering models, seismic exposure analysis models, avian energetics models and many innovative research protocols, are largely responsible for expanding our understanding of both the physical environment and biological resources of coastal and offshore Alaska. Interpretation and synthesis of OCSEAP still continue to identify and delineate a number of environmental and resource management issues, for example, elevated levels of metals, notably cadmium, in sediment and biological tissues, particularly in reference to Pacific walruses.
Since 1984, NOAA's National Status and Trends (NS&T) program has sampled sediment and biota (mussels and demersal fish) at several sites in Alaska to determine the levels and temporal trends of contaminants, including toxic trace elements, a variety of pesticides, petroleum hydrocarbons and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and a number of chlorinated industrial chemicals, such as polychlorinated biphenyls. The sampling sites are located in the Gulf of Alaska, Bering Sea, Chukchi Sea and Beaufort Sea. Although sampling frequency was low, the results based on sampling efforts during 1984-1992 have recently been compiled in a report and are available electronically on the Internet (http://seaserver.nos.noaa.gov). The program is also in the process of establishing a number of permanent sampling sites in the U.S. Arctic. To that end, six sites in the coastal Beaufort Sea were sampled in September 1997 in coordination with a larger study on the distribution of petroleum hydrocarbons in the region under the sponsorship of the Department of the Interior.
More recently, since 1993 the NS&T program has been engaged in describing the spatial distribution and scales of contamination from radionuclides in surficial sediment and selected biota in the Arctic, including species that are harvested for subsistence use (anadromous fish, marine mammals, seabirds and caribou). Using statistical records of subsistence harvests in the North Slope Borough and radionuclide activity in specific tissues and whole animals, the study results demonstrated there is a very small radiation dose from typical consumption of caribou meat and a virtually negligible dose from consumption of marine foods. These results were instrumental in alleviating widespread public concerns about the quality of traditional food resources in the region following disclosure of widespread dumping of radioactive wastes in the Arctic seas by the former Soviet Union. In addition, separate reports have been prepared on the levels of radionuclides and other contaminants in the Beaufort Sea, the Russian Far East and the eastern Bering Sea. A manuscript describing and interpreting the atomic ratio of plutonium isotopes detected in Arctic sediments is nearing completion.
NOAA, through ongoing cooperative efforts with the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Air Force, is involved in preliminary contamination assessment and recommendations for remedial action at several contaminated sites at the Elmendorf Air Force Base, located near Anchorage, Alaska. Similar cooperative efforts are also envisaged during clean-up and remediation activities at other contaminated states in Alaska that are included in the National Priority List.
NOAA/NOS staff took the lead role in synthesizing and reporting on data on petroleum hydrocarbon and PAH contamination in the Arctic. A comprehensive review chapter on the subject is included in the State of the Arctic Environment report that will soon be published under the auspices of the international Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program. A 188-page summary of the report was published and distributed in June 1997. The staff is also organizing a special, multidisciplinary session with international participation called "Arctic Contamination: Levels, Transport, and Human and Ecological Effects" at the Joint Meeting of the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography and the Ecological Society of America, scheduled to be held in St. Louis, Missouri, June 7-12, 1998.
Coastal Ocean Program
Bering Sea Fisheries-Oceanography Coordinated Investigations(see note 9)
Beginning in 1991, NOAA's Coastal Ocean Program began funding the Bering Sea Fisheries-Oceanography Coordinated Investigations (BS FOCI) to develop an understanding of stock structure and recruitment variation in Bering Sea walleye pollock. This project was supported through FY 97. Among the final products are a biophysical model and a synthesis of recruitment process studies and stock structure. A coupled multi-species biophysical model, NPZF (nutrients, phytoplankton, zooplankton, fish), was developed to investigate the production dynamics of the pelagic ecosystem on the Bering Sea, especially in relation to the early life history stages of walleye pollock. This work has led to a better understanding of how and why variable physical and biological processes regulate the dynamics of biological production in upper ocean ecosystems. Given appropriate real-time biophysical oceanographic data from moorings, ship and satellite observations, this model predicts the larval pollock growth rate. This information is vital to understanding the potential contribution of the year class to the fishery. The NPZF model, when coupled with models treating larval mortality or juvenile growth and mortality, can predict pollock recruitment strength, which will help NMFS manage the resource.
The recruitment component of BS FOCI focused on understanding the causes of the variable mortality of pollock larvae in the various habitats of the southeastern Bering Sea. The synthesis concludes that pollock spawning occurs in discrete concentrations during winter and spring in a variety of habitats, including oceanic (basin and slope) and shelf waters. The application of BS FOCI recruitment studies in fishery management is in regard to the "Donut Hole" issue. This is a region in the deep central Bering Sea that could be fished by foreign vessels. BS FOCI research shows that the food supply in this region is insufficient to sustain a local population. This means the adult fish in the region had to originate in U.S. and Russian waters and would contribute to the spawning population on the U.S. shelf. Based on BS FOCI and acoustic population estimates, fishing was curtailed in the region by an international coordination group led by NMFS.
Southeast Bering Sea Carrying Capacity
The Coastal Ocean Program initiated a regional ecosystem study in FY 96 in the Bering Sea. The objective of the Southeast Bering Sea Carrying Capacity (SEBSCC)(see note 10) project is to study the southeastern Bering Sea ecosystem and the role of juvenile pollock in it, including the factors that affect their survival. Researchers will develop and test annual indices of pre-recruit (age-1) abundance. In its first research cycle (FY 96-98), SEBSCC has conducted its first full year of studies that included modeling, monitoring, process and retrospective studies.
In FY 98, research will focus on contrasting the environment of the Bering Sea shelf and slope from observations made during 1996, 1997 and 1998 in order to understand the strong interannual variability in this ecosystem. SEBSCC model simulations will be used to compare circulation, its effect on pollock survival, and upper-trophic-level interactions in the southeastern Bering Sea for warm and cold years. The objective of SEBSCC is to provide a pollock recruitment index for incorporation into stock assessments in order to recommend allowable biological catch estimates.
Coastal Change Analysis Program,
Yakutat Bay Regional Study
Quantifying changes in the areal extent of wetlands and adjacent uplands is critical for linking both natural phenomena and land-based human activities to coastal ocean productivity. The NOAA Coastal Change Analysis Program (C-CAP)(see note 11) uses satellite imagery and aerial photography to monitor the areal extent, functional status and change in these critical habitats. C-CAP has developed a standard, nationally accepted protocol for mapping submerged aquatic vegetation, emergent coastal wetlands and adjacent uplands. Change detection projects have been conducted in over a dozen states, including Alaska.
An analysis of change in coastal land cover during the period between 1986 and 1993 was initiated in the Yakutat Bay region of southeast Alaska. The analysis quantifies land cover changes resulting from natural phenomena (such as coastal erosion, flooding, and advance and retreat of Hubbard Glacier) and anthropogenic activities (such as logging and coastal development). Researchers from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Auke Bay Laboratory, NMFS Beaufort Laboratory, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory used Landsat thematic mapper imagery and the C-CAP protocol to classify land cover and detect change in the coastal habitat of Russell Fiord and Hubbard Glacier. This change detection analysis has been used by the Sealaska Timber Corporation for guiding their logging strategies and identifying salmon habitat, the U.S. Forest Service for augmenting their wetlands survey and the City of Yakutat for guiding their stream restoration project. Map products and the analytical comparison of imagery are available on a CD-ROM titled "C-CAP Changes in Land Cover in the Yakutat Bay, Alaska Region: 1986-1993." This product can be ordered from the NOAA(see note 12) Coastal Services Center.
Coastal Remote Sensing Science, Alaska Coastal
The NOAA Coastal Ocean Program (COP), in cooperation with the National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS), is investing in research to advance the applications of remote sensing technologies as tools for monitoring phenomena in coastal waters and adjacent land. In FY 96, COP initiated a three-year program to investigate the applications of current and future satellite data streams in the analysis of mesoscale oceanic process in Alaskan coastal waters and the Bering Sea. This research is focused on advancing the methodologies to use synthetic aperture radar (SAR), the advanced very high resolution radiometer (AVHRR), and high-resolution ocean color satellite imagery to detect and monitor oceanic features such as fronts, eddies, internal waves, sea ice, oil spills and surface slicks.
Techniques and applications demonstrated by this research will become available as data and information products through the NOAA CoastWatch network of regional nodes. The Alaska CoastWatch Regional Node is located at the National Weather Service's Alaska Region Office in Anchorage.
COP's support for this program ended in FY 94; this program is now part of the National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS) operations. CoastWatch continues to be a collaborative effort with participation by NESDIS, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR), the National Weather Service (NWS) and the National Ocean Service (NOS). COP continues its participation by supporting research to enhance the utility of CoastWatch data products and advance the applications of remote sensing technology to coastal monitoring, prediction and management.
Coastal managers, decision makers and researchers require accurate and immediate information concerning environmental processes and events that could affect the health and stability of coastal resources. The NOAA CoastWatch program supports those information needs by providing rapid dissemination of satellite and other in-situ data and information for the entire coastal U.S. through a network of regional nodes. Eight regional nodes have been established and distribute near-real-time satellite imagery and other environmental information products to over 200 users. The Alaskan coastal region is served by the Alaska CoastWatch Node located at the National Weather Service's Alaska Region Office in Anchorage.
Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research
The stratospheric ozone layer protects the Earth's ecosystems from biologically harmful solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Changes in the nature of the ozone layer could alter the UV radiation reaching complex ecological environments such as those of the Arctic.
The abundance of stratospheric ozone is set by a balance of photochemical production and loss processes and transport of air within the stratosphere. The photochemical processes involve naturally occurring chemicals in the stratosphere, such as nitrogen species, and chemicals released at the Earth's surface by human activities, such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). In recent years, anthropogenic emissions of CFCs have caused depletion of the total column of ozone in several regions of the globe. For example, the springtime abundance of polar stratospheric ozone in Antarctica has been perturbed because of the influence of anthropogenically released chlorine in the special conditions of the Antarctic polar climate. Although the springtime Arctic ozone column has not reached the same low values that have been observed in the Antarctic spring "ozone hole," extremely cold northern winters could lead to greater Arctic ozone losses. Some evidence of this was observed in the extremely cold Arctic winter of 1995-96. If current international control measures of the United Nations Montreal Protocol are followed, CFCs are expected to reach their peak in the stratosphere in about the year 2000. Therefore, the Arctic stratosphere will remain susceptible to the influence of elevated atmospheric abundances of anthropogenic chlorine for several more years.
Scientists in NOAA's Aeronomy Laboratory (AL) and Climate Monitoring and Diagnostics Laboratory (CMDL) in Boulder, Colorado, participated in an international experiment to study the seasonal loss of ozone that occurs during spring, summer and fall in the Arctic. The field campaigns of the Photochemistry of Ozone Loss in the Arctic Region in Summer (POLARIS) experiment were successfully concluded in September 1997 with the last of 33 flights of the NASA ER-2 high-altitude research aircraft. POLARIS is a multi-agency/university effort that consisted of three deployments to Fairbanks, Alaska, in April/May, June/July and September 1997. The primary scientific objective of the experiment was to understand the natural seasonal change of stratospheric ozone in the Arctic, where ozone peaks in spring and decreases to a minimum value in late summer or early fall.
The POLARIS deployments gave researchers three detailed snapshots of the seasonal behavior of ozone photochemistry and transport. Aeronomy Laboratory researchers measured ozone, reactive nitrogen compounds and long-lived trace gases (the latter in collaboration with CMDL) with instruments that are specially designed for the ER-2 aircraft platform. Other POLARIS researchers made chemical and meteorological measurements from the ground and ballooons. The comprehensive suite of POLARIS measurements, comprising measurements of key reactive chemical species, long-lived tracer species and meteorological variables, will be combined with satellite observations and computer modeling to make a quantitative evaluation of the ozone changes due to chemistry and transport and to discern the anthropogenic influences on the natural seasonal ozone decline.
Insights from the measurements and modeling of POLARIS will greatly increase the ability to explain observed and future changes of ozone abundances in the Arctic. In particular, POLARIS will enhance the scientific understanding of the effects of aviation on that region and will serve as key input to a special state-of-understanding assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Montreal Protocol on the ozone layer.
In another research effort, AL scientists completed in FY 96 the final phase of a two-year series of ground-based measurements in the Arctic. Total-column measurements of ozone, nitrogen dioxide, chlorine dioxide and bromine monoxide were made at Kangerlussauq, Greenland (67N, 51W) and were aimed at increasing our understanding of the seasonal, diurnal and long-term behavior of stratospheric ozone. A sustained period of low temperatures that occurred over Kangerlussuaq during the Arctic winter of 1995-96 is providing researchers with a valuable opportunity to investigate how chlorine-mediated ozone destruction is accelerated by the presence of polar stratospheric clouds and/or atmospheric aerosols.
Climate Monitoring and Diagnostics Laboratory
Atmospheric Trace Constituents. NOAA's Climate Monitoring and Diagnostics Laboratory (CMDL), located in Boulder, Colorado, has operated a background atmospheric monitoring observatory at Barrow, Alaska, since 1972. The observatory is part of a larger four-observatory network with other stations at Mauna Loa, Hawaii; American Samoa; and the South Pole. Continuous and discrete measurements of atmospheric trace constituents are taken to study their impact on global climate. Moreover, these measurements provide a long-term documentation of specific quantities representing the background state and composition of the atmosphere. The Barrow station is a vital component of the network representing Arctic background conditions.
The program mission at Barrow, as at the other three NOAA/CMDL observatories, focuses on research related to those atmospheric constituents capable of forcing change in the Earth's climate through modification of the atmospheric radiative environment and those that may cause depletion of the global ozone layer. The mission is accomplished primarily through long-term measurements of trace atmospheric species such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, methane, nitrous oxide, surface and stratospheric ozone, halogenated compounds including CFC replacements, aerosols, and solar and infrared radiation at baseline observatories and other sites spanning the globe. These measurements document global changes in the key atmospheric species, which are all affected by mankind, and identify causes of interannual variability. The resulting data are used to assess climate forcing and ozone depletion, to develop and test predictive models, and to keep scientists, policy makers and the public abreast of the current state of our chemical and radiative atmosphere.
A primary objective of CMDL is to determine regional-scale sources and sinks of several primary trace species. Toward this objective a global network of flask sampling is undertaken at more than 40 sites. The Arctic sites of this network are at Alert and Mould Bay, Canada; Cold Bay and Shemya, Alaska; Ocean Station "M"; Iceland; and Spitsbergen. Once per week, ambient air is collected in a pair of flasks for analysis of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. The resulting data from this array of measurements are analyzed, in conjunction with two- and three-dimensional transport-diffusion model results, for insight into the global and regional carbon cycle. For example, a distinct slowdown of the global carbon dioxide growth rate during 1992-93 has been shown to be linked to an abnormally strong terrestrial biospheric sink in the temperate latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere.
Upgraded Aerosol Monitoring System at Barrow, Alaska. Monitoring of atmospheric aerosols at NOAA's baseline station at Barrow, Alaska, began in 1974 and provides data useful for detecting changes in the sources of aerosols to the Arctic and for quantifying the radiative forcing of climate by aerosols. With financial support from the Department of Energy (DOE) Atmospheric Radiation Measurements (ARM) program, the CMDL aerosol monitoring system was upgraded in September/October 1997. The new system provides measurements of additional aerosol properties with improved calibrations under tightly controlled sampling conditions. The upgrade also includes an integrated filter sampling system, which is being used as part of the NOAA Arctic Research Initiative to characterize the chemical composition of Arctic aerosols (a joint project with NOAA/PMEL and the University of Alaska Fairbanks). These enhancements provide much-needed data on the chemical and radiative properties of atmospheric aerosols required by global climate models. The enhanced aerosol monitoring system is functionally identical to the systems that CMDL is operating at regional sites at Bondville, Illinois; Lamont, Oklahoma (DOE/ARM-sponsored); and Sable Island, Nova Scotia.
Measurement of the UV Radiation Environment in the Arctic. Although considerable progress has been made in predicting UV exposure for mid-latitudes, there are great limitations in predicting or modeling ground-level UV in polar regions because of uncertainty in surface albedo due to changing snow and ice conditions and persistent but changing cloud cover and because radiative transfer models have more uncertainty at low solar elevations. The use of ground-based UV measurements is, therefore, crucial for developing reliable algorithms for determining surface UV exposure in the Arctic from satellite data. In FY 97, in collaboration with the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), CMDL used their observatory in Barrow, Alaska, as a platform for establishing accurate, reliable, portable yet inexpensive means of measuring UV irradiance reaching the Earth's surface in the Arctic. Two instruments, one for broad-band UV work (a Yankee UVB-1) and the other for narrow-band UV study (a Biospherical Instrument global field-of-view GUV-511), were mounted on the roof of the Barrow observatory in September 1997. Continuous 1- to 3-minute-resolution data from 1-Hz sampling is received, which will allow for good definition of variable cloud and aerosol influences, as well as diurnal, seasonal and annual variations. The UAF will analyze the data to determine column ozone amount, UV doses and reconstruction of spectra.
Air Resources Laboratory
During the summer of 1996 the Atmospheric Turbulence and Diffusion Division (ATDD) of NOAA's Air Resources Laboratory (ARL) conducted measurement flights over the Kuparuk basin of the Alaskan North Slope. The aircraft system was equipped to determine trace gas and energy fluxes and meteorological parameters and to gather video, spectral indices and air samples. In addition to the airborne measurements, a site under the aircraft transects was instrumented to determine soil energy flux and temperatures for aircraft calibration and extrapolation to the remainder of the aircraft transects.
Thirteen evacuated flasks were filled during the field study. These included flask samples representing source and sink periods at San Diego State University tower sites. Additional samples were taken within the oil field emissions plumes and exterior to the boundary layer (within the free atmosphere). All flasks arrived intact at NOAA CMDL in Boulder, Colorado, where they were chemically and isotopically analyzed. Analyses of the flask contents showed source/sink isotopic signatures and enhanced pollutants within the oil field plumes.
Aircraft operations in 1996 consisted of 15 daytime and 12 nighttime transect flights over the standard north-south transect, 12 daytime flights over the east-west transect and 17 daytime flights over the new validation north-south transect. These flights were distributed roughly evenly over the study period.
Two NOAA ATDD deep soil temperature probes were placed in the coastal plain at the crossing point of the north-south and east-west aircraft transects. These probes measured temperature at logarithmically located depths in the soil. A battery-powered datalogger recorded the data. From the probe, aircraft and wetness data were used to estimate soil temperature, soil heat flux, permafrost melting rate, soil thermal conductivity, heat capacity and apparent thermal diffusivity. As with the fluxes the aircraft transect measurements can be used to determine the spatial variability of soil energy dynamics within the North Slope coastal plain.
Starting in October 1996 the ATDD designed and assisted San Diego State University with the set-up and operations of two year-round eddy-correlation flux towers for continuous measurement of trace gas and energy fluxes in the Alaskan Arctic. Design solutions focused on instrument heating, insulation and ice-resistant coatings. The towers have operated continuously since November 1996, and the data have shown that the Arctic tundra can be a significant source of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere during the early winter, when there exists a thawed soil layer under an insulating snow cover.
During the summer of 1997 the ATDD outfitted and shipped a trace gas and energy flux measurement aircraft with remote sensing instrumentation to the Surface Heat Budget of the Arctic (SHEBA) study site within the Arctic ice pack. The aircraft was operated by the ATDD over the pack ice during mid-1998.
Environmental Technology Laboratory
Using knowledge and experience learned during the 1992 Arctic Leads Experiment (LEADEX), NOAA's Environmental Technology Laboratory (ETL) has prepared for and is currently participating in the Surface Heat Budget of the Arctic (SHEBA) field program. This interdisciplinary field program, primarily sponsored by the Arctic System Science (ARCSS) program of NSF and the Office of Naval Research (ONR) High Latitude Program, is a 13-month deployment of instrumentation to a site in the Beaufort Sea from October 1997 to October 1998. Many agencies are participating, with additional field support provided by the Canadian Coast Guard, Department of Fisheries and Oceans. NOAA is also providing support for the NOAA/ETL participation.
The overall purpose of the SHEBA program is to collect the data necessary to document, understand and predict the physical processes that determine the surface energy budget and sea ice mass balance in the Arctic. This will require addressing the interaction between the surface energy balance, the atmospheric radiation and the clouds. The field program is needed because there are large discrepancies among global circulation model (GCM) predictions of present and future climate in the Arctic and because there is uncertainty concerning the role of the Arctic in climate change. The Meteorological Applications and Assessment Division of NOAA/ETL, with support from the National Center for Atmospheric Research Atmospheric Technology Division (NCAR/ATD), is measuring the energy balance at the ice-atmosphere interface and the energy transports within the atmospheric boundary layer so that these point measurements can be scaled up to be representative of GCM grid scales.
The Beaufort Sea ice camp centers on a Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker, the Des Groseilliers, which is being frozen into the Arctic pack ice and will drift with the ice during the year. NOAA/ETL has established one main measurement site close to the ship and four remote sites within 5 km of the ship. These remote sites are located on different ice or surface types, so the energy balance at each site will likely be different. At the main measurement site, measurements include broad-band short- and long-wave radiation; profiles of sensible heat, moisture and momentum fluxes; detailed wind, temperature and humidity profiles; and surface precipitation. At the remote sites, one-level measurements of the same quantities are being made, with the exception of precipitation.
The fluxes are being provided through several methods, including direct measurements using sonic anemometers, profile measurements using highly accurate temperature and relative humidity sensors, bulk methods and a spatially averaging scintillometer. A Doppler sodar is providing boundary layer wind and turbulence data. SHEBA collaborators will provide temperature profiles within the ice at each of these sites, providing measurements of the subsurface heat flux. The measurements at the five sites will be combined to provide values useful for direct comparisons to satellite measurements and GCM model grid values. This will be a unique data set documenting the air-ice energy balance throughout an entire cycle of seasons at an array of surface stations. It should provide the necessary description of the physical processes comprising the energy balance throughout the Arctic seasonal cycle and the understanding of the various feedback mechanisms associated with these energy balances.
ETL is also operating a new millimeter-wavelength cloud radar as part of SHEBA. It has been joined on the ship by a new Doppler lidar with dual-polarization capability for distinguishing water droplets from ice crystals. These remote sensors, developed and tested in Boulder during 1997, will probe Arctic clouds, which have a major influence on climate because of their strong control on the transfer of radiative energy through the atmosphere. Clouds are the least understood but most significant atmospheric constituent in processes governing radiative transfer. In spite of their great importance to climate change, Arctic clouds are largely unmeasured because of the harsh Arctic environment.
Over the past several years, ETL has developed new techniques that combine measurements from multiple sensors, both active and passive, for making quantitative measurements of radiatively important cloud properties such as cloud particle sizes, shapes, concentrations, ice water path/content, liquid water path/content, number of cloud layers and their heights and thicknesses. Such data will prove invaluable in validating the retrieval of similar products from polar-orbiting satellites, and work is underway to collaborate with NASA along these lines. These advanced remote sensing techniques will be applied to the year-long SHEBA measurements to establish a baseline data set for Arctic clouds. Data from these remote sensors will soon be generally accessible over the Internet just one day after they are collected in the Arctic.
National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service
Satellite and Data Management
NOAA's National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS) in Suitland, Maryland, manages the U.S. civil operational Earth-observing satellite systems. NESDIS also has the basic responsibility for collecting, archiving, processing and disseminating environmental data; developing analytical and descriptive products to meet user needs; and providing specialized data analyses and interpretations. As part of this overall responsibility, NESDIS maintains a variety of Arctic environmental data sets. The data holdings of the National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC) in Boulder, Colorado, which includes the World Data Center-A for Glaciology (Snow and Ice), are of relevance to Arctic studies. Information on those activities are provided under the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) below.
Instruments carried on NOAA's polar-orbiting environmental satellites are a valuable source of Arctic environmental data. These include:
These satellite data sets, available since 1979, are archived by the NESDIS National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) in Asheville, North Carolina, and copies can be obtained on magnetic tapes. AVHRR and TOVS data from January 1996 to the present are available on-line via the NESDIS Satellite Active Archive (SAA). Historical data are expected to be added to the system in 1998, as system storage capacity is increased.
NESDIS, in partnership with the U.S. Navy, operates a near-real-time processing, communications and access system for synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data from the Canadian Radarsat satellite. SAR data are high-resolution (10-100 m) active microwave backscatter measurements that can be used for monitoring and studying the ocean environment and for other applications of interest to U.S government agencies. Since February 1997 the National Ice Center (NIC) has routinely used Radarsat data to determine ice edge location, ice concentration, stage of development, and frequency and orientation of leads and polynyas in the Great Lakes and frozen seas of the polar regions. Arctic data are acquired, processed and delivered electronically in near real time (less than 6 hours) to the NIC from satellite readout stations located in Tromso, Norway; Gatineau, Canada; and West Freugh, Scotland; and from the Alaska SAR Facility (ASF) located at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. All U.S government organizations and/or agencies sponsored by NOAA that have signed an affiliated user agreement may submit operational SAR data requests through NESDIS. NESDIS handles the communications for ASF SAR data, while Canadian SAR data are delivered to the NIC from the Canadian Ice Service (CIS) via a dedicated communications link known as the North American Ice Link (NAIL). NESDIS provides on-line electronic access to the SAR data for U.S. government agencies via the Satellite Active Archive (SAA).
Instruments on the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) satellites are also an important source of Arctic environmental data for NESDIS and the NIC. Passive microwave data from the special sensor microwave/imager (SSM/I) are received on a near-real-time basis from the U.S. Navy's Fleet Numerical Meteorological and Oceanographic Center (FNMOC) under the aegis of the Shared Processing Program (SPP). The SPP encourages the sharing of data between all of the operational environmental data processing centers of the U.S. government. SSM/I brightness temperatures, or sensor data records (SDRs), are converted by the Ocean Modeling Branch of the National Center for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) into ice concentration maps using the NASA Team ice algorithm. These maps provide the NIC with a global all-weather data source that is integrated with other data to produce weekly composite Arctic and Antarctic ice analyses. The World Data Center-A for Glaciology is responsible for archiving and distributing historical gridded SSM/I brightness temperatures and ice concentration products for the polar regions. Fine-resolution (0.5 km) visible/infrared data from the DMSP Operational Linescan System (OLS) are also used in the ice analysis process at the NIC. These data have been delivered to NESDIS from ground stations via a domestic communications satellite (DOMSAT). The delivery of these data was changed to an asynchronous transfer mode communications link from the Air Force Global Weather Center located at Offut Air Force Base, Nebraska, at the end of 1997. This transition will significantly increase the volume of OLS fine data available for ice analysis at the NIC.
NESDIS also participates in the Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking (SARSAT) system, an international program using emergency position location instruments on polar-orbiting spacecraft to detect distress signals from emergency locator transmitters on aircraft and emergency positionindicating radio beacons on boats and ships. A new experimental personal locator beacon that can be carried by individuals is being tested in Alaska and has already been responsible for helping to save over 100 lives. Emergency signals received from older analog beacons and transmitters by the SARSAT satellite component are relayed to local user terminals (LUTs) in participating countries. Search and rescue coverage of part of the Arctic is provided by LUTs in Norway, Canada, the United Kingdom, Russia and Alaska. Emergency signals from newer digital beacons and transmitters received by the satellites anywhere in the Arctic are processed by the U.S. Mission Control Center at the NESDIS facility in Suitland, Maryland, and communicated immediately to rescue units.
NESDIS is participating in a number of programs of solar wind observations for geomagnetic storm warnings of interest in auroral studies and for protection of communications and electrical systems. In a joint program with the U.S. Air Force (USAF), a solar X-ray imager (SXI) will be flown on the GOES-M satellite in the year 2000. NOAA recently awarded a contract for at least two more SXIs to fly on the GOES N-Q series. The Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE), a NASA research mission, was launched in August 1997 and is in transit to the L1 point. NOAA will receive a subset of ACE data for real-time solar wind monitoring (providing an hour's warning of solar events) under a cooperative program with NASA and the USAF. Operational use of the data is expected to begin in January 1998. NOAA, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the USAF have developed a mission concept for a successor mission called Geostorm. This satellite would use a solar sail to maintain an orbit closer to the sun than ACE and thus provide more than an hour's warning time. The mission concept is a candidate for the Deep Space Five mission of the New Millennium program and if selected would fly in 2003.
Since FY 94, NESDIS has managed the NOAA CoastWatch program. This cooperative NOAA program has participation from NESDIS, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the National Weather Service, the National Ocean Service, and Oceanic and Atmospheric Research. The goal of CoastWatch is to provide coastal managers, decision- makers and researchers with timely satellite imagery and other NOAA environmental data and information for the entire coastal U.S. through a network of regional nodes. The Arctic regions of Alaska are served by the Alaska CoastWatch Node located at the National Weather Service's Alaska Region Office in Anchorage. Alaska CoastWatch users have access to near-real-time AVHRR, DMSP, GOES and Radarsat data.
National Ice Center
The National Ice Center (NIC) is a cooperative, interagency organization responsible for providing Arctic, Antarctic and Great Lakes ice information to U.S. and allied armed forces, U.S. government agencies and various segments of private industry. Manpower and fiscal resources for the NIC are provided by the U.S. Navy, NOAA NESDIS and the U.S. Coast Guard. Real-time global, regional and tactical-scale ice guidance products are generated in support of mission planning, safety of navigation and climate research. Routine products include satellite-derived sea ice analyses of current ice conditions and forecasts depicting future changes to the sea ice pack. All ice products are available in analog (paper) format via a dial-up autopolling facsimile system. Beginning in 1997 the NIC began producing routine Arctic ice products in a digital format. Analyses are distributed in graphics interface format (gif) and as geographic information system (GIS) compatible files via the NIC World Wide Web page (http://www.natice.noaa.gov). Tailored support messages are also sent electronically via autodin to DoD users. Sea ice features of most frequent interest to operational and research interests include ice edge position, ice thickness, ice concentration, areas of compression or heavy deformation, and the location and orientation of open water or thin-ice-covered leads and polynyas. Metadata, which detail the data sources integrated into routine ice analysis products, are available on the NIC web page. Historical (1972-1996) data of weekly ice analyses and multi-year climatologies of ice extent and coverage are also available from the NIC.
Approximately 95% of all data used in producing ice analyses at the NIC are derived from satellites. The largest sources of these remotely sensed data are visible and infrared imagery from the TIROS very high resolution radiometer (AVHRR) and the DMSP operational linescan system (OLS) instruments. These data are of sufficient resolution (1.0 and 0.6 km, respectively) to produce regional-scale maps of ice conditions and produce rough ship track route recommendations. Unfortunately these data suffer from the limitation that cloud cover imposes on ice detection. DMSP SSM/I passive microwave data provide an all-weather detection capability but of relatively coarse resolution (25 km) for all applications except for global-scale ice mapping. Over the past two years the NIC integrated SAR data in ScanSAR wide mode (100-m resolution; 500-km swath width) into select operational ice analysis products. SAR imagery is the only high-resolution remotely sensed data source that is capable of penetrating the perpetual cloud cover and restricted illumination conditions characteristic of the polar regions.
NIC has found SAR data to be extremely useful in classifying ice types (first-year vs. multiyear ice) and in detecting new ice and ice surface deformation. Ongoing SAR research to aid NIC operations includes the development of an automated knowledge-based ice classification system, a multiyear ice detection algorithm, an automated ice/no ice detection algorithm and an ice motion tracking system. The NIC established a chief scientist research position mid-year in 1997 to facilitate the transition of polar research to operations. Priorities of the new science program focus on several key topics, including:
Drifting buoys are also an important source of surface meteorological data and ice drift information in the Arctic. Since its inception in 1991 the mission of the U.S. Interagency Arctic Buoy Program (USIABP) has been to establish and maintain a network of 40 evenly spaced meteorological buoys on the drifting Arctic ice pack. As manager of the USIABP, the NIC achieves this goal through coordinated deployments and international cooperation by participants in the International Arctic Buoy Program (IABP). During 1996-97, nearly 95% of all Arctic drifting meteorological buoys reported data in real time over the Global Telecommunications System (GTS). Real-time buoy data are used to initialize operational weather and ice forecast models. All buoy data are quality controlled within six months of receipt and then assembled into a historical (1979-1996) database, which is archived by the Polar Science Center of the University Washington (http://iabp.apl.washington.edu) and the NSIDC. These data have been found useful in the intialization of global circulation models and in climate change research. Buoy data are also used to generate a three-hour spatially and temporally interpolated data set of surface pressure and temperature. A recent accomplishment of the USIABP was the completion of buoy performance field tests conducted at the NOAA Climate Monitoring and Diagnostics Laboratory in Barrow, Alaska. The objective of this test was to conduct a dynamic long-term evaluation of the ability of unattended buoys to accurately measure ambient temperature and pressure to satisfy operational and research requirements. Of specific interest was the ability to accurately measure surface (2 m) air temperature. A USIABP-designed buoy with an external thermistor performed favorably when compared to the weather station standards and dramatically better than the five buoy designs used by other IABP participants. The results (specifically, levels of long-term error) are being used to generate improved Arctic surface temperature fields.
National Snow and Ice Data Center
The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) was established by NOAA in 1982. It is operated under the auspices of NGDC through a cooperative agreement between NOAA and the University of Colorado. NSIDC is funded by NASA to operate a Distributed Active Archive Center (DAAC) and receives funding for research and data management activities from NOAA, NSF and other agencies.
The Former Soviet Union Hydrological Snow Surveys are a new snow data set available on-line from NSIDC. The data set is based on observations made at 1345 sites throughout the former Soviet Union. These observations include snow depths and snow water equivalent from 1966 through the end of 1990. The source of the data is the Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow. The station coverage and the inclusion of snow water equivalent makes this an important data set for corroborating satellite passive microwave snow algorithms.
During 1950 to 1991 the U.S.S.R. maintained two, and sometimes three, drifting ice stations in the Arctic Ocean. In addition to supporting scientific studies, these manned ice camps operated as synoptic meteorological stations reporting position, surface weather, atmospheric soundings, solar radiation and snow conditions. NSIDC, in collaboration with the University of Washington's Polar Science Center (PSC) and the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI), St. Petersburg, Russia, released a CD-ROM containing these observations. Rescue and organization of the data took place at AARI and PSC; ESDIM funding contributed to CD-ROM development at NSIDC.
The mass balance of the world's glaciers is an important topic to the global change research community. The Eurasian Glacier Inventory contains information for over 35,000 glaciers within the former Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China. Inventory parameters, accessible through a web page interface, include geographic location, area, length, orientation, elevation and classification of morphological type and moraines. These data are the digital version of thousands of handwritten records from the Institute of Geography, Moscow, and the World Data Center-D for Glaciology in Lanzhou, China. In FY 96 and 97, NSIDC acquired digital inventories for New Zealand, the Alps and Norway. NSIDC is working with the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS) in Zurich to release these data simultaneously at NSIDC and WGMS.
Sea ice parameters for the period 1953 through 1990 from the AARI are now available electronically in gridded form. The AARI data set provides hitherto inaccessible information on ice conditionss and their spatio-temporal variations in the Eurasian Arctic. In addition to its use for basic research on trends in ice extent and concentration, the combined AARI data set is useful for comparing with estimates of ice concentration from satellite passive microwave data. The data were provided to NSIDC(see note 13) as part of the World Meteorological Organization's Global Digital Sea Ice Data Bank (GDSIDB), a project that supports the interests of the World Climate Research Program. Other nations that have agreed to contribute data to the GDSIDB are Canada, Denmark, Japan, Germany, Finland and Sweden. Japanese data were received by NSIDC under the program in FY 97 and are being re-gridded to an easy-to-use format.
NSIDC's project to develop cryospheric indices for NOAA's Global Climate Perspectives System recognizes the need for data sets that enhance skill in detecting climate change and applying climate models. The focus for this project is snow cover and sea ice extent, because of the importance to modelers of the positive temperature-albedo feedback mechanism regulated by these variables. Regionally complete data sets are needed to provide essential snow and ice boundary conditions and ultimately to understand how model output compares with observed changes in climate. Two cryospheric products have been produced from data acquired for the project. The first, Historical Soviet Daily Snow Depth-1874 to 1984, contains data from 280 stations as well as monthly climatologies. The original data were provided to NSIDC by NCDC via a NOAA bilateral agreement with the U.S.S.R. The second product, Northern Hemisphere Weekly Snow Cover and Sea Ice Extent1978 to 1995, provides input for climate model boundary condition and validation studies. This product was created by mapping weekly NOAA snow charts from visible band imagery and NSIDC ice extent estimates from passive microwave data to the same grid. Quality-checking includes direct comparison with surface station data. The data set was released on CD-ROM in 1996.
NSIDC/WDC-A is implementing a Global Geocryological Database that assembles priority permafrost and frozen ground data sets. Under the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Agreement, Working Group VIII, ground temperature data have been transferred from Russian archives to the WDC-A at NSIDC. NOAA ESDIM support is contributing to the development of a Cryosols-Active layer-Permafrost System (CAPS) CD-ROM containing rescued permafrost data and bibliographic information. The CD-ROM was released at the 7th International Conference on Permafrost, in Yellowknife, N.W.T., June, 1998.
Additional data sets archived or updated through NOAA ESDIM support are Arctic and Southern Oceans sea ice, Great Lakes ice charts, Great Lakes cooperative ice observers ice gage reports, International Ice Patrol iceberg reports, U.S. Coast Guard Great Lakes surface ice reports, the International Arctic Buoy Program archive, sea ice melt pond characteristics, Canadian snow depth, Estonia snow cover 1892-1990, Chinese snow depths from 1979 to 1990, and South Cascade Glacier mass balance data. In addition over 100 canisters of film data of aerial observations of sea ice from the U.S. Navy Birdseye program for 1970 through 1986 were acquired from the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover, N.H.
University of Alaska Cooperative Institute for Arctic Research
The Cooperative Institute for Arctic Research (CIFAR), a NOAA-University of Alaska Fair- banks cooperative arrangement, continued to pursue its objectives of facilitating and managing joint research projects between NOAA and universities and promoting research among organizations and programs active in the western Arctic.
NOAA Arctic Research Initiative
The NOAA Arctic Research Initiative (ARI) started in FY 97 with the overall goal to address the following national Arctic policy objectives:
The scope of the ARI program is broad, focusing on two major scientific areas and five major subtopics:
1. Natural variability of the Bering Sea/western Arctic ecosystem
2. Anthropogenic influences on the Bering Sea/western Arctic ecosystem
The number of proposals received (and funded) in FY 97 were as follows:
The FY 98 program is similar in objective and scope; an Announcement of Opportunity was released in October 1997. Research in FY 98, where possible, also embraces research needs identified in the science planning by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP) and the International Arctic Research Center (IARC) that fall within the NOAA mission. This includes monitoring, data collection, exchange of data on the impacts and assessment of contaminants and their pathways; increased UV-B radiation due to stratospheric ozone depletion; and climate change effects on Arctic ecosystems.
Joint Bering Sea Cruise
A major accomplishment of the ARI was a joint cruise in the Bering Sea in partnership between NOAA and the University of Alaska Fairbanks to investigate the basis for the rich productivity of the eastern Bering Sea. An underlying cause for the enormous populations of higher trophic level species is thought to be the Green Belt lying along the outer edge of the continental shelf and over the slope, where enhanced and prolonged production apparently occurs. Until recently, however, a mapping of water properties, currents, nutrients and primary production had never been undertaken. Even the nature of the current over the slope, known as the Bering Slope Current, has not been well described or understood. Yet, it is this feature that is the source of nutrients for primary production and may seed the outer shelf with pollock larvae and other plankton.
From March 28 to April 13, 1997, the NOAA ship Miller Freeman conducted a research cruise along the Bering Sea shelf break crossing the Green Belt on seven oceanographic transects from the U.S.-Russia Convention Line in the north to the Aleutian Islands in the south. The 215-ft research ship provided a safe platform for the combined physical and biological oceanographic work in a notoriously inhospitable ocean at exposed locations over 400 nautical miles from the nearest ice-free refuge in the Pribilof Islands.
Water density observations analyzed aboard ship gave the scientists a preliminary indication of the Bering Slope Current's location and strength. It flows just seaward of the shelf break transporting 4-7 million cubic meters per second northwestward. Modern acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) and global positioning system (GPS) measurements will be used to reference water-density-based geostrophic currents and provide much more accurate data on currents in this region than has been possible in the past. Chlorophyll measurements revealed heightened photosynthetic activity seaward of the shelf break. These await further analysis in conjunction with nutrient and primary productivity observations in order to map the location of the Green Belt and its relationship to the Bering Slope Current.
Other Arctic Research Projects
Other research projects conducted under the auspices of CIFAR and funded by NOAA included five projects in fisheries oceanography, several of them on salmon; two projects on hydrographic studies and sea ice dynamics; two projects on atmospheric research dealing with atmospheric forcing and mesoscale modeling; four projects on environmental assessment, monitoring and numerical model-ing, including assessments for AMAP; and several modeling projects using the Arctic Regional Supercomputer facilities at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Office of NOAA Corp Operations
The Office of NOAA Corps Operations (ONCO) supported Arctic research during the past two fiscal years primarily through the operations of the NOAA ship Miller Freeman and secondarily through continuing aircraft operational and research projects.
ONCO's fisheries and oceanographic research vessel Miller Freeman is a 215-ft, 1920-ton stern trawler that operates a variety of biological and oceanographic sampling gear. The Freeman's primary Arctic accomplishments have been as a working platform for the study of the Arctic Ocean's living resources.
ONCO's ships and aircraft are run by a combination of NOAA commissioned officers and wage licensed civilians. On ships the wage marine personnel include licensed engineers and other members of the engine, stewards and deck departments. Aviation personnel are licensed as engineers and technicians by the Federal Aviation Administration. Administrative duties and navigation of the ships and aircraft are performed by the commissioned officers. The aircraft and ship's complements provide mission support and assistance to embarked scientists from various NOAA laboratories as well as the research academic community.
The Freeman conducted hydroacoustic surveys in the Arctic during the past two years, especially the Bering Sea. Hydroacoustics are used by NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service for fisheries management. The principal objective in hydroacoustics is to collect target strength data used in scaling echo integration data, thereby estimating the absolute abundance of a particular target fish species. Winter-spring assessment operations were completed during the past two years, with a specific focus on the eastern shelf and Blogoslof areas of the Bering Sea.
A special cooperative Bering Sea survey ranging from the U.S. Bering Sea to the Russian coast was completed with the assistance of Russia and Japan. The project consisted of intership calibration of the acoustic systems aboard the Freeman and the Japanese research vessel Kyowa Maru and completion of Bering Sea hydroacoustic transit lines. Scientists from Russia, China, Poland and South Korea participated in various capacities aboard both vessels.
NOAA's aircraft have completed several routine ongoing Arctic projects during the past two years. The WP3D research aircraft completed aerosol and pollutant studies for NOAA's Environmental Research Laboratories. NOAA's charting and survey aircraft have completed endangered species assessment surveys over and near the Arctic coast of Alaska and collected survey and mapping data for the revision of nautical and aeronautical charts of Alaska's Arctic.
Office of Global Programs
NOAA's Climate and Global Change Program maintains a small program in the Arctic, driven primarily by scientific questions regarding the Arctic's role in global climate change. Coupled ocean-atmosphere models in the U.S. and Europe have suggested that the planet's response to increased greenhouse forcing will fundamentally involve changes in the thermohaline circulation of the ocean, popularly described as the "conveyor belt." In the modern ocean, dense water is formed in very limited areas of the global ocean, with the Greenland/Norwegian and Labrador Seas being the predominant Northern Hemisphere regions of deep water formation. As northward-flowing surface water in the Atlantic cools, it releases heat (thus warming northern Europe) and sinks to form a deep water mass identifiable throughout the global ocean. The rate of this thermohaline circulation varies dramatically in models with different scenarios of greenhouse gas forcing. These model runs are given some credence by observations from the paleoclimate record, which indicate strong thermohaline variability as recent as 10,000 years ago. The strongest control on the thermohaline circulation is the amount of fresh water coming into the North Atlantic from the Arctic Ocean.
The Arctic interests of the Climate and Global Change Program have thus been driven by the desire to observe and model these hypothesized Arctic-Atlantic interactions. An array of instruments to measure the flux of fresh water from the Arctic, including sea ice, has been deployed in Fram Strait since 1991, in cooperation with European investigators. Downstream in the Greenland Sea, annual measurements of salinity and transient tracers have provided a time series of deep water formation in this region, demonstrating the response of deep convection to changes in freshwater input. Several atmosphere-ocean-ice modeling efforts on varying scales are being used to examine the mechanisms at work in the long-term variability of this component of the climate system.