Bering Sea Ecosystem
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Day 6: Under the Ice

Nobody’s diving under the ice on this cruise, but that doesn’t mean nobody’s looking around under there. David Shull, a scientist from Western Washington University, is looking and measuring under the ice with help from a remotely operated vehicle, or ROV.

ROVs can be used for all sorts of ocean science, and they come in many sizes. Shull’s yellow submarine isn’t much bigger than a toaster. A toaster with propellers, that is. It has a video camera to help him position it precisely under the ice.

A major objective of this cruise is to look at what would happen if the ice in the Bering Sea were to appear later and melt earlier—or go away entirely—as Earth’s climate changes. Shull has mounted a sensitive oxygen sensor on his ROV to measure oxygen produced by algae in and under the ice. That will help scientists figure out how important ice algae in the Bering Sea are as a food supply for zooplankton in the winter.

Last year, Shull broke the delicate oxygen sensor the first time he tried out the ROV; he hopes to have better luck this time.

Read on about our adventure in the slideshow below. Can't see the slideshow? Get the Flash plug in »

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