Beaufort Lagoon Ecosystems LTER

member of the U.S. Long Term Ecological Research Network

lagoon photo
Coastal lagoons along the Eastern Beaufort Sea (courtesy of Susan Schonberg)

This project will establish a new Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) program along the northern Alaskan Arctic coastline in the Beaufort Sea. Lagoon systems encompass more than 50% of the Beaufort Sea coast, providing food and habitat for large populations of migratory fish and waterfowl that are essential to the culture of Inupiat communities of northern Alaska. We believe that the differential availability of seasonally distinct resources is critical for maintaining the high productivity of these ecosystems.

This summer marks the inaugural sampling season for the Beaufort Lagoons Ecosystem project! All twelve Investigators, two Program Managers, and one Information Manager will gather in Fairbanks, AK, on July 19-20 for our first All-Scientists Meeting. From there, researchers and their students will disperse between the three research nodes along the Beaufort Sea coast: Utqiagvik (formerly Barrow), Deadhorse, and Kaktovik.

We will conduct a variety of research this summer that ranges from collecting lagoon sediment for measuring nutrient concentrations to filtering seawater for examining phytoplankton abundance. Our team will analyze many organisms for the role they play in the food web from the microscopic bacterial community to larger animals like polychaetes (marine worms), amphipods (small crustaceans), and fish. At the three research nodes, we will establish meteorology stations to measure temperature and wind speed while stationary cameras will be used to capture the dynamic sea ice in the lagoons over the Arctic winter. Our oceanographers will deploy instruments that will spend the winter under the ice to measure temperature, pH, and salinity.

The summer will culminate with the Kaktovik Oceanography Program held for a week in August with the village’s young students. Project Investigators, Program Managers, and two teachers from Texas will host the students and spend a week learning about their local marine environment.

As research progresses, we'll share key findings, datasets, and publications on this website.



investigators working on the project this summer


universities represented on the project


research nodes: Utqiagvik, Deadhorse, and Kaktovik


kilometers of coastline studied