In 2003 the U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Russian Academy of Sciences signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for World Ocean and Polar Regions Studies, resulting in the Russian-American Long-term Census of the Arctic (RUSALCA). In July 2004, R/V Professor Khromov set sail on a 45-day cruise to research the biological, chemical, and physical oceanographic of the Arctic. Scientists were particularly interested in studying the Bering Strait and Chuckchi Sea, as these are considered to be particularly sensitive to global climate change given their geographic location (e.g., the Bering Strait is the only Pacific gateway to the Arctic Ocean) and the coincidence of nutrient, water temperature, and atmospheric temperature gradients.
Since 2004, RUSALCA cruises have taken place on an annual basis, with scientists routinely taking CTD (conductivity-temperature-depth) profiles and obtaining oceanographic data from permanent moorings, as well as studying biological features of the Arctic including amphipods and marine fishes. After nine years of continuous surveys, RUSALCA provides researchers with a long-term census of the physical, chemical, and biological properties of the Arctic Ocean, which can improve our understanding of this remote region and how it might be impacted by global climate change.
For more information on the annual RUSALCA cruises, including detailed cruise reports and workshop overviews, please visit the RUSALCA website.