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Kachemak Bay Current Study

July 13, 2012

Science Adrift: Have you Seen These Buoys?
Have you seen these buoys?  Scientists from Kachemak Bay Research Reserve and the University of Alaska Fairbanks have teamed up to learn more about the ocean currents of Kachemak Bay.  Tracking the movements of these drifters will help answer questions like, “What are the bay’s main patterns of water movement?, How does water enter/exit the smaller bays?, and How does freshwater input from glaciers change the bay’s circulation patterns?” Two different kinds of buoys will be floating around the bay during the summer for the next few years transmitting ocean current information to satellites.   

Why study the water movement of Kachemak Bay? The data from this study combined with NOAA’s detailed bathymetry will provide much needed information on how ocean water transports animals, sediment, and nutrients around the bay and can help us better predict patterns of the tides and changes in erosion.  This information is also important in helping us plan for emergency response situations such as oil spills and invasive species outbreaks.

There has not been a comprehensive ocean current study completed in Kachemak Bay since the late 1970s –and as many of you know, a lot has changed since then!  The way that water moves around the bay changes from the surface to the bottom and seawater can move in different directions depending on our climate and the shape of the bay.  We are measuring both surface and bottom currents with these small buoys that hold sensitive instruments transmitting their locations to satellites as they drift around the bay. 

Your help keeping the buoys adrift is greatly appreciated.  If you see a stranded buoy or ensnare a buoy while fishing, please release it back into deep (75 feet or more), open water near your location as soon as possible or please contact Tammy Neher (907-226-4668, tdhoem@alaska.edu) or the Kachemak Bay Research Reserve (907-226-4652).

Click here for the July 2012 Drifter Study update.

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