Research from the Top of the World

Research from the Top of the World

ACEP team research sometimes goes beyond the energy field. ACEP researchers Eloise Brown and Jeremy Kasper traveled to Utqiaġvik last week as part of the annual ice-covered field sampling campaign with the Beaufort Lagoons Ecosystem Long-Term Ecological Research program, funded by the National Science Foundation. 

BLE LTER research investigates land/sea interactions, biogeochemical and biological composition, seasonal dynamics and long-term changes within these unique ecosystems. Physical oceanographic data will be used to address this question: “How do changes in ice, freshwater discharges and circulation influence the connectivity between lagoons and shelf waters of the Beaufort Sea?”

Brown and Kasper collected physical oceanographic measurements from under the sea ice at Elson Lagoon. They were accompanied by interdisciplinary team members from the University of Texas at El Paso, University of Texas at Austin Marine Science Institute, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Oregon State University, and UAF’s Geophysical Institute and College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. Simpson Lagoon and Stefansson Sound, on the central Beaufort Sea coast, and Kaktovik and Jago lagoons, to the east, were sampled by other BLE LTER team members over the same time period. 

This year, fieldwork included a visit to the long-term mooring site established by Leandra de Sousa, an oceanographer with the North Slope Borough Department of Wildlife Management. At Eluitkak Pass, just off Plover Point, physical oceanographic measurements and plankton tows were conducted to collect zooplankton samples of mostly copepods and euphausiids. 

“The goal of sampling is to try to ground-truth the fisheries acoustic data on our mooring that is under the ice for a whole year,” said de Sousa. Starting with the plankton, de Sousa is interested in establishing linkages to upper trophic levels such as Arctic cod.


North Slope Borough staff Leandra de Sousa and Peter Kosburk collect water samples out on Plover Point. Photo by El Brown.