Alaska Ocean Observing System

Bethel, AK, United States

Alaska Ocean Observing System

Bethel, AK, United States
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Sigman M.,University of Alaska Fairbanks | Dublin R.,Alaska Center for Ocean science Education Excellence | Anderson A.,SoundView Evaluation and Research | Deans N.,Formerly of the North Pacific Research Board | And 3 more authors.
Journal of Geoscience Education | Year: 2014

During 2010-2012, three professional development workshops brought together K-12 educators and scientists conducting research in the geographic and ecological context of Alaska's three large marine ecosystems (Bering Sea/Aleutians, Gulf of Alaska, and Arctic Ocean). Educators successfully applied new scientific knowledge gained from their interactions with scientists through the collaborative development of lesson plans that were place-based and culturally responsive to Alaska Native cultures. Over the course of the three workshops, we refined a model for incorporating cultural responsiveness into workshop design, employed an innovative systemic traditional knowledge framework, and developed a rubric to evaluate the lesson plans in terms of cultural responsiveness. Key factors that increased the impact of a single professional development workshop on the ability of the K-12 educators to produce culturally responsive lesson plans included (1) participation of experienced teachers as mentors, (2) opportunities for workshop participants to interact with community members and culture bearers, and (3) embedding the training within a longer-term program of curriculum development and professional development in a school district for which cultural responsiveness was a high priority. © 2014 National Association of Geoscience Teachers.

Wang X.,University of California at Los Angeles | Chao Y.,University of California at Los Angeles | Chao Y.,Remote Sensing Solutions, Inc. | Zhang H.,University of California at Los Angeles | And 12 more authors.
Continental Shelf Research | Year: 2013

In the process of developing a real-time data-assimilating coastal ocean forecasting system for Prince William Sound, Alaska, tidal signal was added to a three-domain nested model for the region. The model, which is configured from the Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS), has 40 levels in the vertical direction and horizontal resolutions of 10.6. km, 3.6. km and 1.2. km for its three nested domains, respectively. In the present research, the ROMS tidal solution was validated using data from coastal tide gauges, satellite altimeters, high-frequency coastal radars, and Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) current surveys. The error of barotropic tides, as measured by the total root mean square discrepancy of eight major tidal constituents is 5.3. cm, or 5.6% of the tidal sea surface height variability in the open ocean. Along the coastal region, the total discrepancy is 9.6. cm, or 8.2% of the tidal sea surface height variability. Model tidal currents agree reasonably well with the observations. The influence of tides on the circulation was also investigated using numerical experiments. Besides tides, other types of forcing fields (heat flux, wind stress, evaporation minus precipitation, and freshwater discharge) were also included in the model. Our results indicate that tides play a significant role in shaping the mean circulation of the region. For the summer months, the tidal residual circulation tends to generate a cyclonic gyre in the central Sound. The net transport into the Sound through Hinchinbrook Entrance is reduced. Tides also increase the mixed layer depth in the Sound, especially during the winter months. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

Schoch G.C.,Alaska Ocean Observing System | Chao Y.,Jet Propulsion Laboratory | Chao Y.,University of California at Los Angeles | Colas F.,University of California at Los Angeles | And 4 more authors.
Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society | Year: 2011

A prototype ocean observing and forecasting system was developed focusing on oil spill trajectories and planning for different response scenarios. The objective was to demonstrate the ability of an ocean observing system to provide information that is critical for realtime decision making in events such as Gulf of Alaska (GOA) oil spill. The results show that wind direction was difficult to predict in light and variable conditions due to topographical deflection in some mountainous areas of PWS. Wave height forecasts are found to be overpredicted for the PWS FE and forecast errors, especially for smaller waves, could be attributed to corresponding errors in the input winds. There is a rapid growth of errors in forecasting the drifter trajectories within the first 24 h, suggesting challenges and perhaps limitations of using surface current measurements derived from HF radar and relatively limited subsurface observations for data assimilation.

Nicolson C.,University of Massachusetts Amherst | Berman M.,University of Alaska Anchorage | Thor West C.,University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | Kofinas G.P.,University of Alaska Fairbanks | And 4 more authors.
Ecology and Society | Year: 2013

Livelihood systems that depend on mobile resources must constantly adapt to change. For people living in permanent settlements, environmental changes that affect the distribution of a migratory species may reduce the availability of a primary food source, with the potential to destabilize the regional social-ecological system. Food security for Arctic indigenous peoples harvesting barren ground caribou (Rangifer tarandus granti) depends on movement patterns of migratory herds. Quantitative assessments of physical, ecological, and social effects on caribou distribution have proven difficult because of the significant interannual variability in seasonal caribou movement patterns. We developed and evaluated a modeling approach for simulating the distribution of a migratory herd throughout its annual cycle over a multiyear period. Beginning with spatial and temporal scales developed in previous studies of the Porcupine Caribou Herd of Canada and Alaska, we used satellite collar locations to compute and analyze season-by-season probabilities of movement of animals between habitat zones under two alternative weather conditions for each season. We then built a set of transition matrices from these movement probabilities, and simulated the sequence of movements across the landscape as a Markov process driven by externally imposed seasonal weather states. Statistical tests showed that the predicted distributions of caribou were consistent with observed distributions, and significantly correlated with subsistence harvest levels for three user communities. Our approach could be applied to other caribou herds and could be adapted for simulating the distribution of other ungulates and species with similarly large interannual variability in the use of their range. © 2013 by the author(s).

Gorokhovich Y.,City University of New York | Leiserowitz A.,Yale University | Dugan D.,Alaska Ocean Observing System
Journal of Coastal Research | Year: 2014

Subsistence resources are critical for indigenous communities in the Kotzebue Sound region of NW Alaska. Global sea-level rise (SLR) and coastal erosion are likely to create unfavorable and hazardous conditions for coastal and estuarine settlements. It is unclear how SLR and erosion might affect coastal subsistence resources because of highly complex ecological interactions. This study integrates physical, anthropological, and survey data to assess coastal vulnerability and to identify areas of concern for local and regional planning and environmental protection. This study analyzes and integrates historical and projected physical coastal changes within the Kotzebue Sound region with (1) a coastal vulnerability index (CVI); (2) community-based participatory GIS maps of community subsistence resources; and (3) representative surveys of local communities to determine the importance of each type of resource. The results identify Kivalina and Deering as particularly vulnerable coastal locations among four studied villages. While the CVI is high in these locations, low erosion rates will not likely have any negative impact on fish and caribou-two of the most important subsistence resource species for these communities. Because of the higher number of identified subsistence resource species, Deering is more resilient than Kivalina to any potential negative coastal impacts. This methodology can be useful in other coastal areas where subsistence resources play a major part in people's lives. © 2014 Coastal Education & Research Foundation.

Schoch G.C.,Coastwise Services | McCammon M.,Alaska Ocean Observing System
Continental Shelf Research | Year: 2013

The Alaska Ocean Observing System and the Oil Spill Recovery Institute developed a demonstration project over a 5 year period in Prince William Sound. The primary goal was to develop a quasi-operational system that delivers weather and ocean information in near real time to diverse user communities. This observing system now consists of atmospheric and oceanic sensors, and a new generation of computer models to numerically simulate and forecast weather, waves, and ocean circulation. A state of the art data management system provides access to these products from one internet portal at The project culminated in a 2009 field experiment that evaluated the observing system and performance of the model forecasts. Observations from terrestrial weather stations and weather buoys validated atmospheric circulation forecasts. Observations from wave gages on weather buoys validated forecasts of significant wave heights and periods. There was an emphasis on validation of surface currents forecasted by the ocean circulation model for oil spill response and search and rescue applications. During the 18 day field experiment a radar array mapped surface currents and drifting buoys were deployed. Hydrographic profiles at fixed stations, and by autonomous vehicles along transects, were made to acquire measurements through the water column. Terrestrial weather stations were the most reliable and least costly to operate, and in situ ocean sensors were more costly and considerably less reliable. The radar surface current mappers were the least reliable and most costly but provided the assimilation and validation data that most improved ocean circulation forecasts. We describe the setting of Prince William Sound and the various observational platforms and forecast models of the observing system, and discuss recommendations for future development. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

Simoniello C.,Institute for Marine Mammal Studies | Spence L.,South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium | Deans N.,Alaska Ocean Observing System | McDonnell J.,COSEE Networked Ocean World
Marine Technology Society Journal | Year: 2010

The National Federation of Regional Associations for Coastal and Ocean Observing (NFRA) is the organization charged with building the regional component of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®). Because IOOS is a user-driven system, understanding the needs of regional stakeholders is fundamental to its success. The job of promoting awareness and use of IOOS data largely falls to the regional education and outreach coordinators, at least for those Regional Associations (RAs) fortunate enough to have one. This article is designed (1) to describe how the NFRA Education and Outreach Committee originated, (2) to provide suggestions to create a strategic approach to the evaluation of IOOS education and outreach products and programs, and (3) to describe the "lessons learned" from the many collaborations. A case study related to the Transocean Ltd.-owned/British Petroleum-leased Deepwater Horizon oil spill is described to demonstrate the societal value of RAs and their ability to serve as rapid responders during crisis events.

Colt S.,University of Alaska Anchorage | Fay G.,University of Alaska Anchorage | McCammon M.,Alaska Ocean Observing System
Marine Technology Society Journal | Year: 2011

This article describes a simple but effective project prioritization and selection system developed and used by the Alaska Ocean Observing System (AOOS) (www., one of eleven regional systems within the national Integrated Ocean Observation System ( Because Alaska has 71,000 km of coastline, extreme weather, and limited existing infrastructure, developing and operating a fully functioning ocean observing system will be challenging and quite costly. With AOOS's recent annual budgets averaging only about $1.5 million (including program administrative costs), the AOOS Board must choose which projects to fund first from a long list of candidates. Working with staff, the board developed a project selection system that integrates scientific and socioeconomic criteria and seeks to balance benefits, costs, and risks. That system draws on consultation with information users and on analyses by both scientific and socioeconomic technical advisory committees. The board found the system to be efficient and effective; it may be useful to other programs and regions developing coastal ocean observing systems.

Schoch G.C.,Alaska Ocean Observing System | Chao Y.,Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Eos | Year: 2010

To demonstrate the utility of an ocean observing and forecasting system with diverse practical applicationssuch as search and rescue, oil spill response (perhaps relevent to the current Gulf of Mexico oil spill), fisheries, and risk managementa unique field experiment was conducted in Prince William Sound, Alaska, in July and August 2009. The objective was to quantitatively evaluate the performance of numerical models developed for the sound with an array of fixed and mobile observation platforms (Figure 1). Prince William Sound was chosen for the demonstration because of historical efforts to monitor ocean circulation following the 1989 oil spill from the Exxon Valdez tanker. The sound, a highly crenulated embayment of about 10,000 square kilometers at approximately 60N latitude along the northern coast of the Gulf of Alaska, includes about 6900 kilometers of shoreline, numerous islands and fjords, and an extensive system of tidewater glaciers descending from the highest coastal mountain range in North America. Hinchinbrook Entrance and Montague Strait are the two main deep water connections with the Gulf of Alaska. The economic base of communities in the region is almost entirely resource-dependent. For example, Cordova's economy is based on commercial fishing and Valdez's economy is supported primarily by the trans-Alaska oil pipeline terminal.

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