BESTing Severe Ice: Dispatches from NOAA Research Vessel Studying the Bering Sea Ecosystem

The R/V Thompson at sea

Credit: University of Washington, Oceanography, Marine Operations


The NOAA research vessel Thomas G. Thompson is at sea carrying scientists from a multitude of disciplines to measure ocean conditions and food web productivity on the eastern Bering Sea shelf as part of the Bering Sea Ecosystem Study (BEST) project.

These measurements fit into the larger directive of this multi-year project addressing the study and inter-relationship of climate, oceanography, fisheries biology, marine mammals, seabirds, and local and traditional knowledge.

Scientists are finding this Spring to be an icy, cold one, with ice present much further south on the eastern Bering Sea shelf than predicted. North winds have slowed the expected meltback to more northern latitudes. After a number of warmer years and earlier ice retreat, especially 2000-2005, this year's ice extent is the furthest south at this late Spring date than has occurred in 60 years.

As reported by the National Weather Service, "Historical ice charts dating back to the 1950s have not record of sea ice remaining at St. George Island in the month of May."

Read dispatches from Chief Scientist Carin Ashjian, of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution here.