Overview

The Bering Sea supports several of the world's richest commercial fisheries as well as providing subsistence harvests of fish, birds, and mammals for the Alaskan coastal communities that border it. Sea ice is believed to structure this ecosystem from the bottom up. The timing and extent of sea ice cover influence the timing of plankton production, the composition and abundance of the zooplankton, and ultimately the availability of food for upper trophic levels including commercially important fish species such as pollock. Sea ice is also the feature of the system most vulnerable to ongoing climate change.

We are using the diverse and comprehensive dataset collected during the BEST/BSIERP field program of 2007-2010 to carefully structure and parameterize a new, system- and life-stage specific biophysical model. This model seeks to scale up from the dynamic biophysical linkages diagnosed over a limited time period to multi-decadal trends in the eastern Bering Sea, in order to answer the question:

How will climate change, and the accompanying earlier retreat in seasonal sea ice, warmer water temperatures, and reduced sea ice extent, alter the structure and function of the planktonic food web during spring, and thus the cycling of carbon in the Bering Sea and the availability of zooplankton as prey for upper trophic levels?

Results/Downloads

spr 2014 - Here are slides from Neil's synthesis talk at the 2014 Bering Sea Open Science Meeting.

spr 2014 - Here are slides from a longer version of the talk (lunchtime seminar at UW, Mar 5) that starts to place Bering Sea zooplankton in the context of other Arctic systems.

spr 2014 - Here is a poster that Neil presented at Ocean Sciences 2014 on an optimal life history model for Calanus, which link temperature and phenology (ice retreat and bloom timing) to copepod abundance and lipid storage. It includes some thoughts about the implications of our Bering Sea results for high-latitude food webs in general.

summer 2012 - Here is a movie of daily ice cover from the BESTMAS model (Zhang et al.) for the first half of a warm and cold year from the 2000s (2004, 2009) and a warm and cold year from a 2040s simulation.