In the ocean, there is one interconnected circulation system powered by wind, tides, the force of Earth’s rotation, the sun, and water density differences. Changes in ocean circulation have large impacts on global climate and marine ecosystems.
Ocean circulation mapping is important when we consider how marine invasive species are transported to new areas, the physical dynamics of harmful algal blooms, transport pathways of marine pollutants, and how larval stages of meroplankton (species of marine invertebrates that have a planktonic life stage such as clams and crabs). Ocean circulation mapping can also help us understand the connectivity among Kachemak Bay, lower Cook Inlet, and the Gulf of Alaska. Since 2012, we have been conducting studies to help inform ocean circulation patterns in Kachemak Bay through satellite drifting buoys.
In Kachemak Bay, the most recent ocean circulation map was developed by Burbank in 1977. We’ve used satellite drifters in Kachemak Bay and lower Cook Inlet to update the circulation map. Below shows the updated ocean circulation map for Kachemak Bay.
Understanding how nearshore ocean circulation patterns, and the factors that influence them, will improve our understanding of population level changes to native bivalves and crabs. It will also help inform potential restoration activities for these species and inform local mariculture site selection. Using satellite drifters, we are better able to track how long surface waters stay in in Kachemak Bay.
See our page about bivalve habitat.
Ocean acidification was identified by local and regional stakeholders as an important issue in south central Alaska for subsistence and recreational food sources. People are concerned that we do not have baseline information to help inform how ocean acidification will transform the local near shore ecology of the region (KBNERR Bivalve Proceedings 2014). The complexity of ocean chemistry in estuaries has led to this important habitat being omitted, thus far, from strategies developed for monitoring ocean acidification in Alaska. The KBNERR has a long-term monitoring program that can support and help direct additional monitoring and research into the complex nature of ocean acidification in estuary habitats in south-central Alaska. Through our existing programs and partnerships, we plan to grow this area of expertise for our region on a local, regional, national, and international scale.