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Understanding Ecosystem Processes in the Bering Sea:
First Year Field Highlights from the BEST-BSIERP Partnership

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McArthur II at ice edge in Bering Sea

IN 2007, THE NORTH PACIFIC RESEARCH BOARD (NPRB) AND THE NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION (NSF) entered into a historic partnership to support a comprehensive $52 million investigation of the eastern Bering Sea ecosystem. This “Bering Sea Project” integrates two research programs, the NSF Bering Ecosystem Study (BEST) and the NPRB Bering Sea Integrated Ecosystem Research Program (BSIERP). Their common goal is to understand how climate change is affecting the Bering Sea ecosystem and the consequences of these changes on lower trophic levels for fish, seabirds, marine mammals, and ultimately people.

The BEST-BSIERP Bering Sea Project is a 6-year study of the Bering Sea ecosystem, from the benthos and the atmosphere to human communities, and everything in between. Nearly a hundred principal scientists are linked through a vertically integrated process and modeling program. Field research began in 2007 and reached full speed the following year, with at-sea sampling conducted from February through September 2008. The Bering Sea winter ice cover reached a 30-year high in 2008, and Alaska shivered through a cold and wet spring and summer. In this article, we present a few select observations from the first complete field year and highlight some of the new results.

Read the complete article: pdf; 506KB>

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