PAST PROJECT : Detecting sea ice conditions, and petroleum in the maritime environment through in situ, continuous, real-time measurements of the H2O & C isotope geochemistry of winds

Project PI: Dr. Jeff Welker

Lead Institution: University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA)

Project Description:
Winds of maritime systems are to be continuously monitored for their speeds, directions and their H2O and CO2/CH4 isotope properties as a means of detecting sea ice conditions and extreme events such as vessel emissions and oil spills against a natural background of atmospheric chemistry. The objective is to provide real-time, continuous data of sea ice categories via the wind isotope chemistry and awareness of petroleum in the air or on the ocean surface. The sea ice conditions classes will be transferred from wind chemistry measurements to helm accessible visualizations via algorithms on mobile platforms (i.e. Healy) and will be made available to the marine community from our place based stations via the ADAC web site/command and control center (i.e. Port of Anchorage (POA) & Nome).

Unusual petroleum events in the marine setting will be registered in near real time and shown as outliers to the natural background on both our mobile and station based platforms. These tools will complement existing, but temporally course, sea ice and marine surface attributes, such as satellites and radar tools. The sea ice and petroleum detection systems are being developed and tested on both shore-based (i.e. Port of ANC & Nome) and vessel-based (Healy 2015 & 2016 & USCG Cutter in Santa Barbara Channel in Fall of 2016. In addition, we are testing an ultra-novel technology of an in situ, continuous seawater isotope geochemistry system on the Healy 2016 NOAA Pelagic Life mission as a means to integrate seawater chemistry with place-based marine food webs for fisheries security.

The program uses and develops new measurement and monitoring systems to enhance maritime awareness as related to sea ice condition classes and petroleum in the environment at scales that are not currently available.

Enhanced awareness of sea ice, unusual oil in the environment and the properties of ocean water provides the USCG and other maritime monitoring agencies (i.e. NOAA, BOEM) and commercial operators situational awareness that will minimize accidents and confirm an oil spill or vessel discharge. In addition, project’ s seawater isotope measurements will provide the basis to understand sea currents during vessel transit and when combined with pelagic and benthic organism C, organic H2O and N isotope measurements. Further, through UAF collaborations, project team will provide place-based properties of commercially harvested fisheries and an ability to possibly detect phishing piracy.