The following is the text of a press release issued by the U.S. Coast Guard:
(DUTCH HARBOR, Alaska) — The United Statesâ€™ largest icebreaker, Coast Guard Cutter Healy, will arrive in Dutch Harbor on March 31. Healy will be making a logistics stop after completing the first phase of the Bering Ecosystem Study (BEST) to take on new supplies and personnel for the second phase of BEST.
For phase two, Healy will spend six weeks in the Bering Sea conducting scientific research. BEST is a multi-year project sponsored by the National Science Foundation. BEST studies the ecological processes as sea ice retreats through the Bering Sea. The recent decline in the extent and duration of arctic sea ice has stimulated scientific, as well as public interest, in how the productive Bering Sea ecosystem will change if current climate trends continue.
Scientists will conduct a suite of studies to provide insights about how marine microorganisms, plants, and animals, including fish, marine mammals, and birds, as well as local human communities, will be affected by the on-going changes in the region. The chief scientist, Dr. Carin Ashjian, coordinated this mission last year and will be lead the investigation again this year. She explained that work at and near the ice edge used different sampling strategies, but focused on a common goal of improving the ecological understanding of the Bering Sea.
Healy is designed to conduct a wide range of research activities, providing more than 4,200 square feet of scientific laboratory space, numerous electronic sensor systems, oceanographic winches, and accommodations for up to 50 scientists. Healy is designed to break four and a half feet of ice continuously at three knots and can operate in temperatures as low as -50 degrees Fahrenheit. At a time when scientific interest in the Arctic Ocean basin is intensifying, Healy substantially enhances the United States Arctic research capability. The Healy will not be available for tours.
For more information about Healy, please check: http://www.uscg.mil/pacarea/cgchealy