Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) helps us understand how our environment is changing through time and how past events such as shifts in ocean currents or the arrival of new species impact ecosystems over long time scales. The longer tenure of LTER sites also engenders relationships with local communities so that citizens are engaged with ecological research, which in turn helps ensure the longevity of the site.
The Beaufort Lagoon Ecosystems (BLE) LTER program was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 2017 and is based out of three nodes along the Beaufort Sea coast: Utqiagvik (formerly Barrow), Deadhorse, and Kaktovik. At each node, we deploy instruments and collect samples in nearby lagoon systems, each with their own unique characteristics. This research provides a much needed mechanism for tracking and understanding 1) how natural climate cycles influence coastal ecosystems in the Arctic, and 2) how climate change effects such as permafrost thaw, shifting precipitation regimes, and losses of sea ice alter coastal ecosystems thorough effects on inputs, nutrient cycling, and ocean mixing.
This project includes a strong commitment to undergraduate and graduate education. In addition, the BLE LTER actively participates in K-12 Programs in Kaktovik and Utqiagvik through formal connections and activities with school teachers and administrators of the North Slope Borough School District. These partnerships link BLE LTER affiliated students with K-12 students living in North Slope villages through the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program. Such partnerships benefit enormously from nurturing a culture of diversity. We encourage applications from potential REU students and graduate students that are traditionally underrepresented in the range of disciplines represented by our research team.
BLE follows LTER Data Policies, which typically means data are made publicly available within two years of collection. Each dataset includes metadata describing the data use agreement, the two most common for our case being CC BY (free to use with attribution) and CC0 (public domain). You can find data in our Data Catalog.
BLE personnel are expected to abide by the following policies to promote a fair, ethical, and productive organization.