Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 28 Issue 03

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Volume 28, No. 3
Pages 46 - 67


A Synthesis of Year-Round Interdisciplinary Mooring Measurements in the Bering Strait (1990–2014) and the RUSALCA Years (2004–2011)

By Rebecca A. Woodgate , Kathleen M. Stafford, and Fredrick G. Prahl  
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Article Abstract

The flow through the Bering Strait, the only Pacific-Arctic oceanic gateway, has dramatic local, regional, and global impacts. Advanced year-round moored technology quantifies challengingly large temporal (subdaily, seasonal, and interannual) and spatial variability in the ~85 km wide, two-channel strait. The typically northward flow, intensified seasonally in the ~10–20 km wide, warm, fresh, nutrient-poor Alaskan Coastal Current (ACC) in the east, is otherwise generally homogeneous in velocity throughout the strait, although with higher salinities and nutrients and lower temperatures in the west. Velocity and water properties respond rapidly (including flow reversals) to local wind, likely causing most of the strait’s approximately two-layer summer structure (by “spilling” the ACC) and winter water-column homogenization. We identify island-trapped eddy zones in the central strait; changes in sea-ice properties (season mean thicknesses from <1 m to >2 m); and increases in annual mean volume, heat, and freshwater fluxes from 2001 to present (2013). Tantalizing first results from year-round bio-optics, nitrate, and ocean acidification sensors indicate significant seasonal and spatial change, possibly driven by the spring bloom. Moored acoustic recorders show large interannual variability in sub-Arctic whale occurrence, related perhaps to water property changes. Substantial daily variability demonstrates the dangers of interpreting section data and the necessity for year-round interdisciplinary time-series measurements.


Woodgate, R.A., K.M. Stafford, and F.G. Prahl. 2015. A synthesis of year-round interdisciplinary mooring measurements in the Bering Strait (1990–2014) and the RUSALCA years (2004–2011). Oceanography 28(3):46–67, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2015.57.


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