By Zdenka Willis, U.S. IOOS Program Director
A beautiful, but cold January day greeted my arrival at the Alaska Science Symposium. Several feet of snow that had fallen the week before, making for a picturesque Anchorage, but -10° F temperatures in the mornings required bundling up!
Each year, scientists, managers, and others convene at the Alaska Marine Science Symposium held in Anchorage. This event is the largest scientific conference in Alaska, attracting over 1,200 participants and covering a wide spectrum of topics and eco-regions. The Alaska Ocean Observing System (AOOS) is a sponsor of the symposium and plays a significant role in its organization and success.
AOOS sponsored a fabulous communications workshop to kick off the symposium. The first part of this workshop featured Randy Olson, author of “Don’t Be Such a Scientist: Talking Substance in an Age of Style,” who discussed how to communicate about your programs using stories. The second part of the workshop featured presentations by Darcy Dugan, AOOS Program Manager, talking about creating your own video; Elizabeth Arnold, journalism professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage and senior reporter for “Encounters with Richard Nelson,” discussing how to create powerful radio pieces; and Darin Trobaugh, education specialist at the Alaska Sea Life Center, on creating virtual tours.
The research presented at the symposium was top notch, and I was impressed with its vast expanse. As one of the presenters stated, the research extends “from viruses to whales.” Phil Mundy of NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service provided an intriguing talk on the use of physical ocean observations to predict when the salmon would run--and proved you could do this. Tom Weingartner, of the University of Alaska Fairbanks and AOOS, presented his summer work with High Frequency Radar and drifting buoys to understand the circulation in Arctic coastal waters. These were only two of more than 75 talks given at the symposium.
During the symposium it was obvious to me that partnerships between the Federal and non-Federal agencies, and other institutions, including industry, within Alaska are strong, and this leads to tight coupling of the research that is being conducted. The Department of Interior, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, an IOOS agency, is a strong supporter of many of the studies that are being conducted in Alaska. I also saw strong commitment from Shell Oil and ConocoPhillips.
Equally obvious in all my interactions is that AOOS is a vital partner in Alaska. AOOS’ data portal is gaining significant traction, and customers are lining up to ensure their data is included. The strong leadership of Molly McCammon, AOOS Executive Director, was noted often. I had the opportunity to meet with the AOOS board, and I appreciate their support for the overall goals we are accomplishing through U.S. IOOS and AOOS.
Over a decade of monitoring lower trophic levels on the Alaskan Shelf Poster / Sonia Batten
Larva Map Poster / C. J. Beegle-Krause, Nick Lowry, Xiaochun Wang, Yi Chao, Melanie Schroeder, Debbie French-McCay
Avian Influenza Surveillance of Shorebirds and Gulls in the Copper River Delta Area from 2007 to 2011 Poster / Jonathan Runstadler, Mary Anne Bishop, Michelle Wille, Andrew Lang, Florian Aldehoff, Lori Gildehaus, and Jennifer Paige Gingrich
Factors Affecting Haul-out Probability of Harbor Seals in Tidewater Glacier Inlets Poster / Gail Blundell; Grey Pendleton; Justin Smith