Launched another Arctic expedition of the joint Russian-American project

The research vessel "Professor Khromov"

Employees of the Zoological Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences, headed by Doctor of Biological Sciences, senior research fellow at the Laboratory of Marine Research Stanislav Denysenko at the end of August 2012 to join the next expedition to the Chukchi Sea as part of a joint Russian-American program RUSALCA (Russian-American Long-term Census of the Arctic).

The project began in 2004 and is aimed at investigating the effect of long-term climate change on the hydrological regime and the biota of the Arctic seas. The duration of the expedition will be about 30 days. The work will be carried out on board the research vessel "Professor Khromov" in Russian and U.S. territorial waters.

RUSALCA research methods similar to other Arctic projects. Its main originality — in the chosen location for the study — the Bering Strait and the waters around it. This is one of two places where the exchange of heat and salt between the Arctic and its neighboring oceans (the second such place — the Fram Strait, connecting the Arctic Ocean to the Atlantic). This exchange is extremely important for the understanding of climate change.
A large number of CTD-stations (from the English words Conductivity-conductivity, Temperature-Density-temperature and density), giving vertical profiles salinity, temperature and density, and benthic biological stations was carried out in 2005-2011 expeditions. In 2009, he successfully organized and conducted a comprehensive expedition to the Chukchi and East Siberian seas, and the Beaufort Sea in the development of interdisciplinary research studies conducted in 2004.

During the lifetime of the project, have been fixed offset habitat for several species that previously occurred much farther south. According to observations of our scientists, many species of marine organisms, are warming waters in the region and moving to the north. Attracted the attention of scientists all peoples of the Arctic — from microbes to large mammals. In particular, the last flight observations were made of the range distribution and behavior of whales.

Marine research in the Chukchi Sea began in 1878, the first collection of biological samples Swedish expedition ship «Vega». But still, located at the junction of the two oceans — the Pacific and the Arctic Sea, continues to amaze researchers.

In the course of the first expeditions to the project of Hydrobiology of the Zoological Institute managed to answer the question — why in one of the districts of the cold Chukchi Sea benthic biomass exceeds the average for the Arctic seas. The most abundant species represented in the benthic fauna — the bivalve Macoma calcarea. During the years of observation, scientists have found that if the 30-ies of the last century, clam biomass barely reaches 1 kg per square meter, now in some places the numbers reach 4-5 kg per meter. Scientists explain this phenomenon is the fact that the output of the Bering Strait because of divergent currents produced water cycle, which creates a nearly closed system. Located opposite the famous cycle of seats — Cape Heart Stone. Far from it in 1934, sank icebreaker "Cheliuskin."

According to the head of the Laboratory of Marine Research of the Zoological Institute of Boris Ivanovich Syrenko, a cyclonic circulation, ie rises from the water rich in nutrients feed phytoplankton, which is bypassing the next link in the food chain — zooplankton, sinks to the bottom, where it becomes food for shellfish, which, ultimately, become a source of nutrients. Another similar cycle is in the Antarctic Weddell Sea.

In contrast to the scientists, the Pacific walrus (Odobenus rosmarus) found that feeding trough thousands of years ago. Macoma calcarea one of the most important food items walrus. Every year in the spring and summer, huge herds of walruses on drifting ice floes moved from the Pacific Ocean along the northern coast of Chukotka in the direction of the Long Strait and Wrangel Island, and in autumn make this route in the opposite direction. During migration animals make long stops at the so-called interim regular rookeries at Cape Heart Stone and surrounding areas across land occupied by communities of clams. Here, diving for food at a depth of 50 meters, the animals are fattened. It was at Cape Heart Stone scientists have almost the entire population of walruses in the area in one place — 97,000 of 129,000 individuals (data 2010).

The study area in 2012 covers all the Chukchi Sea, the slopes of the continental shelf and the western part of the East Siberian Sea. The scientists of the Zoological Institute plan to get unique materials for the study of biodiversity and bioproduction processes of marine benthos.

On the American side is involved in the project The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.


workdays Expedition (2009)


workdays Expedition (2009)


workdays Expedition (2009)


walrus rookery at Cape Heart Stone

Author: Julia Smirnova

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