The RUSALCA Project

The project has been started by the Alliance Group since 2003 under a cooperation agreement with NOAA (US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) with financial support from the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) under the Memorandum of Understanding between the RAS and NOAA, signed in 2003. The project received support from Roshydromet under the Memorandum of Understanding between Roshydromet and NOAA, signed in 2005. RUSALCA is an abbreviation for the full project name: Russian-American Long-term Census of the Arctic. The word RUSALCA means “mermaid” in Russian.

The project goal is to carry out long-term research to understand better causes and consequences of the reduction of ice cover in the northern part of the Bering Sea and the Chukchi Sea in the Arctic Ocean. Numerical modeling results suggest that expected permanent loss in the seasonal ice cover and albedo alterations should lead to the significant changes both in the water-column and current fluxes and in appropriate ecosystems of this region. Therefore, it is very critical to monitor the present state and the dynamics of ocean fluxes and the ecosystems in this region.

The first project expedition was conducted in the summer of 2004. It was a multidisciplinary cruise in research areas of water column physics, nutrient chemistry, pelagic and benthic biology, methane flux and baseline Arctic atmospheric chemistry. Oceanographic mooring stations were first deployed in the western part of the Bering Strait in 2004. They were recovered and redeployed annually from 2005 till 2012. In addition to the three mooring stations in the western, Russian part of the Bering Strait, five more stations were served annually, starting in 2007, which are located in the eastern, US part of the Bering Strait.

A significant number of CTD stations (Conductivity, Temperature, and Density), along with benthic biological stations, was made in 2005 through 2012. Two large, multidisciplinary expeditions has been arranged and successfully implemented in the year of 2009 and 2012 in the Beaufort, East-Siberian and Chukchi Seas. The 2009 research cruise has been widely covered by the news media even prior to its completion, including internationally recognized mass media such as The New York Times and Reuters. More detailed information can be received on the RUSALCA web site