This new Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) program funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) will use lagoons along the Alaskan Beaufort Sea coast as experimental units to examine concepts of seasonality, resilience, stability and trophic redundancy over both spatial and temporal timeframes. It will also provide 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 LTER project includes a strong commitment to K-12 Programs in Kaktovik and Utqiagvik and will employ native high school seniors or recently graduated students living in these villages as field research assistants. Our BLE-LTER formally started in August 2017. We plan to conduct seasonal field studies during ice covered, ice break-up, and open water periods starting in July-August 2018. Study sites include Elson Lagoon (western Beaufort), Simpson Lagoon and Stefansson Sound (central Beaufort), and Kaktovik and Jago lagoons (eastern Beaufort).