link to AFSC home page
Mobile users can use the Site Map to access the principal pages

link to AFSC home page link to NMFS home page link to NOAA home page

Keep up on What’s Happening on the Alaska Fisheries Science Center
Arctic Cruise in August


Throughout the month of August, Jessica Randall, part of the Fisheries Oceanography Coordinated Investigations (FOCI) program with the Alaska Fisheries Science Center, will be sending dispatches from the NOAA ship Ron Brown. The ship is conducting surveys in the U.S. Chukchi and Beaufort Seas to obtain baseline oceanographic data. Sampling is also being conducted at hotspots for productivity and biodiversity, known as Distributed Biological Observatory (DBO) sites (for more information see:

This survey, in its fifth year of operations, is part of a multi-institutional effort to improve our understanding of arctic ecosystems.

August 31, 2015 - The Storm

refer to caption  

A misleadingly picturesque glimpse of the evening as the storm front was moving in, shortly before operations were called to a halt. Don’t let the hint of blue sky fool you, it was the last color and calmest seas we saw for the next two days.

refer to caption  

The Peggy D returning from a long day of bay work, later used to ferry the science party into Barrow to offload.


Today we bid ‘adieu’ to our colleagues from the National Ocean Service-half of the science party. Having completed their work in the bays of the Chukchi and the ice-free regions of the Beaufort Sea, they set off early in the morning onboard the vessel Peggy D to be dropped off in Barrow, Alaska. As it turned out, the timing of their departure was fortuitous, less than 24 hours later the winds picked up and would have delayed or even prevented them from coming ashore.

Around midday the rest of us still onboard set off in hopes of completing several stations on our next transect line before a series of low pressure systems blew in. True to the forecast, the winds came up with a vengeance and the rapidly worsening sea state forced us to halt operations after only completing one station. While the CTD can handle considerable winds and seas since the boat remains stationary for deployment and retrieval of the instrument, the tucker frame quickly becomes quite the challenge both to get in the water without tripping the nets (requiring us to redo the cast) and to recover safely.

Recent Update: Despite our best efforts to break free, the storm was not about to let up any time soon. It raged on for another 2 days at its peak with gusts up to 45 knots and waves breaking 15 feet. At this point, even walking becomes physically taxing. One minute your step feels almost weightless as the ship breaks the crest of wave but the next it is as if your shoe is made of lead. In addition to try to time the vertical shifts, there is also the side to side rocking which requires your hands at the ready to brace against the nearest wall. To the casual observer, it must have been quite the comical sight at times.

By day 3, we were finally able to escape to the north and shortly after resume our original transect line; a welcome relief for us all!

<Into the Ice


Creature Feature>

            | Home | Site Map | Contact Us | FOIA | Privacy | Disclaimer | | Accessibility | Print |           doc logo