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    Climate Change Monitoring

    Sea ice in Gorbatch Bay at St. Paul Island, Alaska on March 14, 2007. See the data associated with this observation at the bottom of the page.

    Monitoring the effects of climate change in high latitude areas such as the Bering Sea is of particular importance to understanding the magnitude and effect of ecosystem changes worldwide (Overland and Stabeno 2004; King 2005). Attaining an in-depth understanding of how the Bering Sea, its sea ice, and the ecosystem it supports, is critical to understanding how changes in global climate may affect other regions (King 2005) and their human and wildlife populations.

    Despite the need for long-term oceanographic and climate data, our current understanding of changes in ocean temperature in the Bering Sea is based largely on the time series of direct measurements of ocean temperatures made  from a small number of oceanographic moorings in the southeastern Bering Sea (Overland and Stabeno 2004). During this critical period of change in the Bering Sea ecosystem, additional sampling stations in  the Bering Sea coupled with local observations of the effects of climate change are urgently needed.  The Pribilof Islands Community-based Ocean Monitoring Program (PICBOMP) was initiated in 2007 with funding from the North Pacific Research Board (NPRB Project 733) the to implement a community-based ocean-monitoring program to deploy coastal ocean monitoring moorings around the Pribilof Islands coupled with collection of local and traditional knowledge to assess long-term changes in the Bering Sea and their impact on the Pribilof Island communities.

    Island Sentinel Dustin Jones deploying Seabird Electronics Micro-Cat 37-SM in St. Paul Harbor during the PICBOMP project.

    The PICBOMP established an ongoing collaboration between scientific researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Pacific Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) and local community researchers in the Pribilof Islands. The data collected from the moorings maintained by each community provide regional scientists and community members with valuable time-series measurements to track climate-induced changes in the coastal zone of the Bering Sea marine ecosystem.  These data can be used in conjunction with local environmental observations to better document and understand changes in the Bering Sea ecosystem.  As a part of their ongoing Climate Change Assessment program, the TGSPI ECO collects regular detailed observation data in the online BeringWatch database to document potential impacts of climate change on St. Paul Island. The data currently collected include observations of the presence and type of sea ice around the island during winter and spring and monitoring of the incidence and extent of coastal and tundra erosion.

    Screen-shot of BeringWatch data entry recorded in association with the image of sea ice in Gorbatch Bay at St. Paul Island, Alaska in 2007.

     

    Relevant Scientific Literature:

    Bond, N.A., and J.M. Adams, 2002: Atmospheric forcing of the southeast Bering Sea shelf during 1995-99 in the context of a 40-year historical record. Deep-Sea Research, Part II, 49, 5869-5887.

    Hunt, G. L. and P. J. Stabeno. 2002. Climate change and the control of energy flow in the southeastern Bering Sea. Progress in Oceanography 55:5-22.

    King, J.R. 2005.  Report of the Study Group on Fisheries and Ecosystem Responses to Recent Regime Shifts.  PISCES Scientific Report No. 28

    National Research Council. 1996. The Bering Sea Ecosystem. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.

    Overland, J.E., and P.J. Stabeno.  2004.  Is the Climate of the Bering Sea Warming and Affecting the Ecosystem.  EOS.  85:309-31

    Stabeno, P.J., J.M. Napp, and J.E. Overland. 2009, The Bering Sea in 2008: A decoupling of sea-ice extent between the Arctic and Bering Sea.  Proceedings of the Alaska Marine Science Symposium. January 19-23, Anchorage Alaska.  North Pacific Research Board.