Episodic Upwelling of Zooplankton within a Bowhead Whale Feeding Area near Barrow, AK
WOODS HOLE OCEANOGRAPHIC INSTITUTION MA DEPT OF BIOLOGY
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Our long term goals are to understand 1 the biological-physical oceanographic characteristics and mechanisms on the shelf near Barrow, AK that together produce a favorable feeding environment for the bowhead whale there and 2 the potential impact of climate change, particularly the ongoing reduction in sea ice and variability in Pacific Water presence near Barrow, on this feeding environment. This region is a critical feeding area for migrating bowhead whales, particularly during the fall migration e.g., Lowry et al., 2004. Results from biophysical sampling conducted during August-September 2005- 2008 demonstrated that the oceanography of the shelf is complex, dynamic, and highly variable and that advection is closely coupled to the direction and magnitude of the winds. In addition, oceanographic and atmospheric conditions impact the composition, distribution, and availability of plankton prey for the bowhead whale. Assessment and understanding of interannual and longer-term variability in the physical mechanisms influencing ocean conditions and the resulting distribution and abundance of plankton on the shelf are necessary to predict potential impacts of climate change.
- Biological Oceanography