• Atmospheric Forcing Of Wave States In The Southeast Chukchi Sea

      Francis, Oceana P.; Bhatt, Uma (2012)
      The objective of this study was to assess the impact that the ocean state, particularly ocean waves, have on coastal communities and operations in the Western Alaska region. In situ measurements and one-dimensional spectra models, were used to link observed wave activity -- wind-sea and swells -- to their synoptic drivers. Bottom-mounted Recording Doppler Current Profilers (RDCPs) were placed at offshore and nearshore locations in the southeast Chukchi Sea, Alaska, during 2007 and 2009-2010. The highest significant wave height (SWH) "events" were defined as wave heights above 2m and 3m for a duration of 6h or more. Results show that SWH events appeared to be driven by three types of systems, 1) cyclonic systems that moved into the eastern Bering Sea and then stalled there, 2) cyclonic systems that moved into the eastern Chukchi Sea and then loitered there, and 3) a cyclonic system over the Brooks Range, a less common occurrence. Results also show the offshore region having highest SWHs with an east wind and wave direction, and classified as a wind-sea state. For the nearshore region, highest SWHs with south and west wind and wave directions, generally showed a swell state. Agreement between one-dimensional spectral models and in situ measurements was greatest for the higher wind-sea state in the offshore region, while discrepancies arose for the lower swell state in the nearshore region. Cross-validation of in situ measurements with satellite altimeter radar measurements were also conducted. Good correlation was found for the offshore regions but not for the nearshore regions. Satellite observations were also used to assess wave conditions in the Arctic during the years 1993-2011. A 0.020m/year increase of SWH for the SE Chukchi Sea and a 0.025m/year increase for the Pacific-Arctic, was found which correlates well with diminishing sea ice and the heighted wind speed, also shown in this study.
    • Sea Ice Strength

      Peyton, Harold R. (1967)
    • Six Thousand Years Of Change In The Northeast Pacific: An Interdisciplinary View Of Maritime Ecosystems

      Misarti, Nicole; Finney, Bruce (2007)
      The goal of this thesis is to develop long-term records of North Pacific ecosystems and explore relationships between change in marine ecosystems and prehistoric Aleut culture through soil chemistry, isotope analyses of lake cores, and isotope analyses of bone from archaeological middens. Chemical analysis of soils yielded differences in soils of various archaeological features as well as middens of varying composition. Sites that had no middens were chemically distinguishable from sites that did have middens helping to define resource consumption in the local region. An important result of this study is that no single ecosystem (nearshore benthic, coastal pelagic or deep-ocean pelagic) experienced the same changes in delta13C and delta 15N over the past 4,500 years. This suggests that changes in climate affected different ecosystems in unique ways. Only one change spans all species studied, the decrease in modern delta13C in comparison to delta13C of prehistoric specimens. According to these comparisons, the modern Gulf of Alaska may not be in the highly productive state that it was for the past 4,500 years, with the possible exception of the Medieval Warm Period. Lake core sediment analysis suggests an increase in salmon stocks in the Gulf of Alaska beginning ∼6,000 years ago, with a decrease during the Medieval Warm Period. In fact, salmon stocks in the Gulf of Alaska appear to be healthiest during periods of atmospheric cooler and wetter climate over the past 4,500 years. In comparing my paleoecological records to the archaeological record of the area it appears that humans were affected by changes in their environment but, even in relatively small numbers, humans also influenced local ecosystems for the past 6,000 years. By building on our understanding of long-term climate change and long-term fluctuations in ecosystems and trophic dynamics of species in the North Pacific, and through considering humans in the ecological context, we can better understand present conditions in marine ecosystems.
    • The carbon cycle in an anoxic marine sediment: Concentrations, rates, isotope ratios, and diagenetic models

      Alperin, Marc Jon; Reeburgh, W. S. (1988)
      The carbon cycle in the anoxic sediments of Skan Bay, Alaska, was investigated in order to better understand the processes that control biogeochemical transformations in an organic-rich sediment environment. Depth distributions of concentration and $\delta\sp{13}$C were determined for five major carbon reservoirs: methane (CH$\sb4$), dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), dissolved organic carbon (DOC), particulate inorganic carbon (PIC), and particulate organic carbon (POC). In addition, methane oxidation and sulfate reduction rates were measured under quasi-in situ conditions using radio-tracer techniques. Diagenetic models were applied to concentration, reaction rate, and isotope ratio depth distributions and the results were integrated into a comprehensive, depth-dependent model of the Skan Bay carbon cycle that considered advective, diffusive, and biological and chemical reactive fluxes for the five major carbon reservoirs. The Skan Bay carbon cycle is fuelled by POC, which is deposited at the sediment surface at a rate of 2290 $\pm$ 480 umol $\cdot$ cm$\sp{-2}$ $\cdot$ yr$\sp{-1}$. Isotope mass-balance calculations indicate that about 60% of this material is derived from kelp while the remainder originates as phytoplankton. About 60% of the organic matter is consumed in the upper 40 cm of the sediment column. The $\delta\sp{13}$C-POC and $\delta\sp{13}$C-DOC depth distributions suggest that the material derived from kelp is more labile, accounting for greater than 60% of the total POC consumption. The products of anaerobic metabolism of POC accumulate in the DOC reservoir creating a large DOC concentration gradient at the sediment-water interface. Flux and stable carbon isotope mass-balance calculations suggest that a sizable portion (30 to 80%) of the DOC produced by degradation of POC diffuses from the sediment prior to oxidation to dissolved inorganic carbon. Methane production appears to occur primarily at depths greater than 40 cm. The CH$\sb4$ diffuses upward and is almost quantitatively oxidized to DIC in a narrow subsurface zone. Methane oxidation accounts for only 20% of the DIC production, but exerts a profound influence on the $\delta\sp{13}$C-DIC profile, contributing to the distinct mid-depth minimum. Pore waters are supersaturated with respect to calcite at depths greater than 10 cm, but isotope mass-balance considerations indicate that carbonate mineral formation is not occurring in these sediments.
    • Tracing Amino Acid Metabolism Of Harbor Seals (Phoca Vitulina) Using Stable Isotope Techniques

      Zhao, Liying; Schell, Donald M. (2002)
      Compound specific isotope techniques were used to trace amino acid metabolism in captive harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) through a two-year controlled feeding trial with either Pacific herring (Clupea pallasi ) or walleye pollock (Theragra chalcogramma). Techniques were developed for measuring carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios of individual amino acids. Carbon and nitrogen trophic enrichments in serum of captive harbor seals varied with the two fish diets, which might have resulted from the changes in metabolic pathway due to the differing dietary protein intake between herring and pollock. Data on serum free amino acid compositions also showed, from a different perspective, that changes in seal metabolism occurred in response to these different feeding regimes. Carbon and nitrogen isotopic composition of individual amino acids varied much more within an organism than across trophic levels, reflecting the distinct amino acid biosynthetic pathways. The similar patterns in relative amino acid carbon isotopic composition at different trophic levels indicated a conservative transfer of delta13C from primary producers to top predators. Nitrogen trophic enrichments in different amino acids were not uniform, depending upon the extent to which a given amino acid was transaminated or deaminated, with several essential amino acids showing lesser variations than most non-essential and branched-chain amino acids. The differences in amino acid isotope ratios among phocids from the North Pacific or Atlantic and their counterparts from the Antarctic reflected the geographic variations in isotopic composition of phytoplankton. The striking similarities in relative amino acid isotopic composition among phocids from the three distinct geographic locations indicated that phytoplankton worldwide had similar biosynthetic pathways during initial amino acid biosynthesis. This has important implications for using individual amino acid isotope ratios in studies of modern and prehistoric marine organisms. Amino acid metabolic pathways governed the varying patterns of 15N enrichments following 15N-labeled amino acid tracer infusions. Tracer experiments further confirmed that phenylalanine, threonine, lysine and probably histidine may be useful as relatively conservative natural biomarkers. This study provided new insight into mechanisms of isotopic trophic dynamics in food web studies and improved our understanding of seal protein metabolism.
    • Use of synthetic aperture radar in estimation of wave climate for coastal engineering design

      Blackstone, Jill Ellen (1995)
      Development of Alaska's maritime resources requires design of efficient, reliable, safe facilities by coastal engineers who have a thorough knowledge of site specific wave climate: wave height, length, period, direction, and storm duration. Unfortunately, lack of wave information and validated hindcast models along the Alaskan coast often results in costly overdesigned facilities or underdesigned coastal structures which have a high risk of performance failure. To expand the nearshore wave climate availability, use of spaceborne synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data to estimate wave parameters was evaluated. SAR data were examined in raw and filtered forms, and the extracted wave climate compared to field measured data at three sites. Based on this comparison, the applications and limitations of SAR estimated parameters were established and incorporation of the information into current design practice was addressed. SAR based spectra were dominated by low frequency spectral peaks, likely due to random noise associated with SAR images, as these peaks were not present in the field measured spectra. Due to discrepancies between SAR and measured spectra, wave height, and storm duration could not be determined. Although error ranged from 12.5% to over 100% for SAR estimated wave lengths, the fact that wave lengths, although inaccurate, could be determined from SAR is promising. SAR based wave direction compared favorably to theoretical propagation directions which affirms the potential of wave parameter extraction from SAR data. However, directional field data were not available for comparison. Due to the current errors associated with SAR based wave estimations, SAR estimated wave climate cannot be incorporated into coastal design practice at this time. Research results suggest SAR data still hold great potential for estimating wave parameters. Examination of SAR based wave climate in an extensively monitored, open ocean setting would be beneficial, and the influence of environmental factors on SAR imaging of waves warrants additional investigation. Furthermore, development of a tandem SAR platform with temporal resolution on the order of seconds would be useful for wave period estimation and interferometric wave height determination. After this background research has been accomplished, another evaluation of SAR based nearshore wave climate would be worthwhile.