Researchers Share Results from Arctic Ocean Diversity Project

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

Alaska based researchers are part of a group of marine scientists from around the globe gathered in London this week.  They’re sharing results from a decade long survey of sea life compiled by 2,700 scientists. It’s one of the largest scientific collaborations ever conducted.   The University of Alaska Fairbanks has been involved in several components of the worldwide project.

Oceanography professor Russ Hopkroft is one of three UAF researchers who led an Arctic Ocean Diversity Project.  Hopkroft says it started with sorting through over a century’s worth of marine life discoveries.

The Arctic marine data base consists of a quarter million species.  It includes previously identified life as well as new discoveries from recent years field work in the Chuckchi and Beaufort seas and the Canadian Basin. Hopkroft says the UAF team identified 71 previously unknown life forms.

Hopkroft says technology, like remotely operated submarines, have enabled new discoveries.  He says climate change makes this a pivotal time for creating a data base for arctic marine life, against which future surveys can be compared.   He says while the first 10 year phase of the marine life survey has come to a close, the survey could continue depending on available funding.  Another UAF-led component of the project looked at marine life in near shore environments.

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