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The fifth Live from the Poles expedition starts on April 3 and runs through May 11, 2009. Science writer Helen Fields and I will be joining a large research team studying the impact of climate change on the Bering Sea ecosystem aboard the U.S. Coast Guard icebreaking ship Healy.
The Bering Sea is one of the most productive regions of the world’s oceans, accounting for nearly half of the total U.S. fishing catch. Climate models are forecasting substantial warming for the southeastern Bering Sea shelf region, which will dramatically alter the distribution of species of fish, seabirds, and marine mammals. Understanding this ecosystem and how it will respond to rapidly rising temperatures is of critical importance to both commercial and native fisheries. The 40+ researchers aboard the Healy will be deploying instruments and collecting samples in round-the-clock shifts for six weeks straight. Our two-person media team will be in the thick of the action, whether it’s collecting cores of sea ice or lowering high-tech plankton microscopes into the icy water.
In addition to the still photography, I plan to spend more time collecting professional-quality audio during this expedition. Although I have collected ambient sounds during previous trips (see the Polar Fun pages on the Polar Discovery website under each expedition), for this trip I plan to add interviews. I will continue the time-lapse photography I experimented with on the last few expeditions and perhaps even dabble with videography.
All of the photographs I take on this expedition will be tagged with the latitude and longitude using a GPS tagger, which will make them particular useful to the science team. But the core objectives of the project will remain the same—to deliver cutting-edge polar science to the public online through professional still photography and science writing.