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Walrus radio-tracking in the Chukchi Sea 2013

Final tracked Pacific walrus locations

 

Radio deployment locations are shown with a red X on the day they occur.

Daily Pacific walrus relocations are show with a yellow dot

Walrus Data: USGS researchers deployed satellite radio-tags on Pacific walruses in the northeastern Chukchi Sea (July 12-24, 2013) to track their activity and movements during the upcoming sea ice minimum period.   Persistent fog and sea ice over Hanna Shoal—a prime walrus feeding ground based on past tagging data—limited access to walrus, and only 18 of a planned 40 tags were deployed.

Sea Ice Data:  Sea ice distribution shown here is based on passive microwave imagery and daily sea ice analysis to show walrus locations in relation to broad-scale sea ice conditions.  The passive microwave data is collected by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer 2 (AMSR2) flown onboard NOAA’s Global Change Observation Mission 1st - Water (GCOM-W1) satellite and processed by the University of Bremen (http://www.iup.uni-bremen.de:8084/amsr2/). Please note that this sensor data stream does not reliably detect sea ice with less than 15 percent coverage and is occasionally missing from some sectors of the Chukchi Sea.  The outlines of marginal and pack ice are provided by daily analysis from the National Ice Center (NIC) daily marginal ice zone product, which incorporates on multiple sensors and active ice analysis (http://www.natice.noaa.gov/products/). A daily emailing of these sea ice data for this study area is available formatted for display on virtual globes (such as 'Google Earth') upon request.

Project Purpose: For the past several years, the USGS has conducted similar work under the USGS Changing Arctic Ecosystems (CAE) Initiative to track and forecast response of walruses to dramatic reductions in summer sea ice. Under this research initiative, USGS has documented movement patterns and foraging behaviors of more than 350 walruses to reveal important summering habitats that coincide with areas leased by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) for oil and gas development.  USGS estimated monthly distributions from this tracking data and has made them available to support management needs (For example see Arctic ERMA).  Financial support for data collection in 2013 was provided by the BOEM, the USGS Outer Continental Shelf program, and the USGS CAE Initiative.

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