BOEM Launches Arctic Ecosystem Research Project

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP) partners have chosen Stantec Consulting Services to lead a broad Arctic study that will investigate the interrelationship among the physical, biological, chemical and social science components of the Beaufort Sea ecosystem from Barrow, Alaska, to the Mackenzie River delta in Canadian waters.

The overarching goals of the study are to better understand the interrelationship of the physical, biological, chemical, and human systems, including traditional knowledge, of the Beaufort Sea and to advance scientific prediction capabilities for linkages between marine life, human uses, sea ice, atmospheric and oceanic processes and river discharge.

To better inform future BOEM decisions, the bureau seeks to learn more about the impact of the Mackenzie River plume on the Beaufort Sea shelf. A river plume is formed by fresh water runoff discharged into the marine environment. These waters are very low in salinity (in comparison to the surrounding oceanic environment) and undergo intense mixing with saltier, marine waters along its boundaries. River plumes are clearly distinguished from satellite images and other oceanographic data. High-resolution in-situ and satellite observations and modeling data on the Beaufort shelf area will inform BOEM’s decision-making process for any future OCS activities.

“BOEM is pleased to join our Federal and industry partners to undertake this forward-looking project,” said BOEM Acting Director Walter Cruickshank. “With widespread interest in the Arctic, including potential oil and gas leasing and development, we’re looking to significantly expand our knowledge of the Beaufort Sea ecosystem to inform our decision-making.”

Press Release; Image: NRCAN

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