Featured Projects

Bering Strait Response Teaching Tool

Mapping marine mammal populations in the Bering Strait

The Alaska Ocean Observing System displays data being produced from a variety of real-time sensors including weather stations, stream gages and buoys.
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The Alaska Ocean Observing System displays data being produced from a variety of real-time sensors including weather stations, stream gages and buoys.
Oil and Hazardous Substance Releases Model.
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Oil and Hazardous Substance Releases Model.
Digital Elevation Model of the region.
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Digital Elevation Model of the region.
NOAA Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI) maps provide a concise summary of coastal resources that are at risk if an oil spill occurs nearby.
Caption:
NOAA Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI) maps provide a concise summary of coastal resources that are at risk if an oil spill occurs nearby.
A screen shot from the tool showing areas used by whales.

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A screen shot from the tool showing areas used by whales.

Background

The Arctic is being affected by climate change twice as fast as other regions, allowing for increased use of the Bering Strait for shipping and interest in oil exploration. Increased activity comes with increased risk of an oil spill, so it is important to understand the resources at risk and provide visualization of those resources.

Method

Information on marine mammal distributions was gathered from agencies, non- profits, and existing subsistence mapping efforts and put into the proper format for inclusion in mapping software. The data is made available in the Bering Strait Response Teaching Tool (BSRTT), which includes other information for teaching about spill response in the region. Outreach efforts then brought the BSRTT to communities in the Bering Sea region.

Results

Data on the distribution of whales, walrus, seals, and polar bears is visualized in a manner that can be used in educational tools for people of the area and for spill responders. The BSRTT includes information on the distribution of marine mammals, birds, infrastructure, shipping, and an oil spill trajectory model run. Using this information it is possible to explore where a spill may go, what spill response resources are nearby, and the animals that may be affected. The BSRTT is available at bsrtt. defenders.org. It is linked with the Alaska Ocean Observing System data portal that in turn is linked with the Arctic Environmental Response Management Application designed for spill responders.