Polar research in the Laney lab

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Sam Laney and Emily Peacock standing on the Arctic Ocean.

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Deploying a special suite of optical and bio-optical instruments from NOAA Ship OSCAR DYSON in the Chukchi Sea above the Arctic Circle. (Sam Laney)

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A MODIS satellite image of the Bering Straits and our study region in the Chukchi Sea.

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Related Links

» WHOI's Arctic Research Initiative

Phytoplankton assemblage structure in polar waters 

Dr. Heidi Sosik, WHOI Biology Department
Dr. Kevin Arrigo, Stanford University (ICESCAPE PI)

Quick link: IFCB8 data portal (for high-latitude WHOI IFCB data)

With support from NASA and WHOI's Arctic Research Initiative I have developed and fabricated a seagoing Imaging FlowCytobot (IFCB) for use on polar research ships. In 2010 and 2011 it was used in the Bering and Chukchi Seas in the NASA ICESCAPE program on the icebreaker USCGC Healy. I used this system to collect millions of images of individual microphytoplankton cells and chains over long transits to, from, and within the study region. This instrument was also used to examine algal and protist assemblage composition in ice cores, ice ponds, and under-ice water samples. A long-term goal for these data is to understand better the spatio-temporal variability of phytoplankton assemblage structure in Arctic waters. In addition to the two ICESCAPE cruises, this system has been used on HEALY in three other Chukchi/Bering cruises, at other times during the year.

In 2011 this instrument was used in a similar fashion on a CLIVAR cruise from McMurdo Station to Punta Arenas, Chile, on the RVIB Nathanial B Palmer. This unusually long cruise provided exceptionally valuable data regarding the microphytoplankton assemblage distribution over a wide swath of the Southern Ocean.

Read an interview taken on the 2010 ICESCAPE campaign on USCGC Healy describing this research, or watch a video.

Monitoring Arctic phytoplankton under the ice 

Dr. John Toole, WHOI Physical Oceanography Department
Rick Krishfield, WHOI Physical Oceanography Department
Dr. Mary-Louise Timmermans, Yale University

Ice-Tethered Profilers (ITPs) are a robust approach for measuring ocean physical properties in permanently ice-covered regions, including standard CTD parameters as well as dissolved oxygen, over long time scales of a year or more. With support from WHOI's Arctic Initiative and from the NSF Arctic Observing Network program, six ITPs are being outfitted with bio-optical sensors so that phytoplankton abundance and other optical properties can be monitored as well. These instruments will be deployed by US and foreign researchers in the Arctic in 2011 and 2012.

For more information on my work with ITPs, visit my page on under-ice phytoplankton ecology.

Improving the use of satellite ocean color data in Arctic coastal ecosystems

Dr. Heidi Sosik, WHOI
Dr. Lisa Eisner, NOAA Auke Bay Laboratory, Juneau AK

The goal of this research is to make ocean color data a more robust component of Arctic observational networks. This project combines novel field observations in the eastern Chukchi Sea with a computer modeling study, to examine how ocean color algorithms in the Arctic can be improved by better addressing some of the basic optical differences in Arctic waters. A joint modeling-observational approach like this one provides guidance for determining what measurements or regions should be given the highest priority in Arctic observation systems to better ground-truth the ocean color data that are being currently collected. This research is also evaluating the use of alternate bio-optical algorithms for the Arctic, which have been proposed in the past but which have not been examined in detail because the optical field observations needed to evaluate them have been lacking. This study is supported in part by the WHOI Arctic Research Initiative. This project is supported by WHOI's Arctic Research Initiative.

International Graduate Training Course in Antarctic Marine Biology

My interest in polar oceanography started with a NSF-sponsored training course at McMurdo Station, which I participated in in 2006. This course is offered semi-annually and gives students a broad exposure to laboratory and field work in polar environments.


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Last updated April 14, 2014
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