Winter in Unalaska by Sam Zmolek
Your voice in the Aleutians.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
The KUCB Newsroom provides newscasts every weekday at noon and 5 PM on KUCB Radio. You can find many of our local news stories here.

NOAA takes temperature of the Bering Sea in annual Bottom Trawl Survey

Alaska_Knight_IMGP0015.jfif
Courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
/
Courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
The F/V Vesteraalen and the F/V Alaska Knight are out in the Bering Sea for the annual Bottom Trawl Survey.

How cold is the water in the Bering Sea? That’s what a group of researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration wants to know.

NOAA is currently out in the Aleutian Islands running their annual Eastern Bering Sea Bottom Trawl Survey.

They've been running annual surveys since the 1970s, mainly to collect data on the distribution and abundance of bottom-dwelling species like crab and groundfish.

But this year they’re paying special attention to the cold pool—a section of bottom water that stays cold through the summer. It affects everything from when fish spawn to what part of the ocean they live in.

It also acts as a barrier that keeps Arctic species separate from fish like pollock and cod, two of the most commercially important species in the region.

The cold pool has shrunk significantly in recent years, which could disrupt the fragile ecosystem.

“From a fisheries standpoint, there is always year to year variability in the cold pool,“ said Maggie Mooney-Seus, communications program manager for the administration's Alaska Fisheries Science Center. “The main concern is that the overall trend across time shows declining sea ice and warmer ocean temperatures.”

NOAA is releasing data in real time and is expected to post their final results in September.

“This information is valuable for planning for fishermen, local community members and resource managers. It enables them to better prepare and adapt to future conditions,” said Mooney-Seus.

You can follow along with the researchers at NOAA Fisheries.

Laurelin Kruse is a writer and radio producer from rural Colorado. She has a BA in American Studies from Yale, and she learned radio at the Transom Story Workshop in Massachusetts, where she reported stories for the local public radio station. Kruse is excited to spend the summer roaming the tundra and doing stories for the Unalaska community.
Related Content
  • New data from drone surveys flown over Unalaska’s three road-system lakes last summer show low sockeye salmon counts. The counts total less than half of what they were in summer of 2020, according to data released in April by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. But Fish and Game biologist Tyler Lawson said the one-year drop isn’t too concerning. Escapement numbers often fluctuate and there’s more room for error in aerial surveys, he said. “We call them a ‘high error survey,’ which kind of sounds bad, but it's just because in comparison to the weir — which is a very precise tool — there's variability whenever you're up in the air, looking down and trying to count salmon,” he said. While the technology is still relatively new when it comes to counting salmon in Unalaska, Lawson said he’s hopeful that drones will play a key role in helping assess broader trends among salmon stocks in the region.
  • The so-called blob that brought warm surface water temperatures to the Gulf of Alaska between 2014 and 2016 has passed.But the effects of that blob, and a subsequent heat wave in 2019, are not all in the rearview mirror. And researchers are bracing for more as climate change brings with it more ocean warming.
  • The nation's only heavy icebreaker reached the southernmost navigable waters on the planet last month, setting a new world record. The nearly 400-foot U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker reached a position of 78 degrees, 44 minutes, 1.32 seconds south latitude off the coast of Antarctica. That’s about 500 yards from the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf, beating out the current Guinness World Record holder for the southernmost point reached by a ship, according to a USCG statement.