Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors

Biennial Report

What’s New

Warmer Temps in the Gulf of Alaska

Oct 9, 2014 | Gulf of Alaska Project | 0 comments

NPRB funded researcher Russ Hopcroft was looking at warmer temperatures in the waters of the Gulf of Alaska this summer

Most Alaskans would comment on how unusual the summer weather has been during 2014.  The same applies to the waters in the Gulf of Alaska – it’s been a hot one!  Ocean surface temperatures there were a comfy 55-57°F. A team of scientists that have been studying the Alaskan shelf south of Seward, Alaska, found the upper 300 feet of the ocean to be from 1 to 5°F warmer than the September average they have measured over the past 17 years.  “It was like working in a bath tub out there” said chief scientist Professor Russ Hopcroft, “except for the wind and 12 foot swell. This year was more than 1 degree warmer than any other year we have studied.”

The warm temperatures are partly a result of an unsual winter that left the distant offshore water of the Gulf far warmer than normal. A warm water anomaly in the tropical Pacific Ocean may have further added to the warming. Together, they have created warmer summer waters from Southeastern Alaska through the Bering Sea.  While this might be great if you’re a swimmer, warmer temperatures can have large consequences to marine life that are accustomed to colder year-round temperatures.  Some colder-water species experience hard times when water is too warm for them. Consequences may have been mixed for other species, for example, while some fish grow more quickly in warm water, they also burn more calories at warmer temperatures, so need to find much more food. 

During warm years, coastal currents also tend to bring more warm water species northward.  The team lead by University of Alaska researchers found unusually large numbers of warmer water plankton species during their survey. Months of laboratory work analyzing plankton samples will be required to know the extent of their invasion.  NOAA partners studying ocean acidification have had a small armada of self-contained robotic devices out monitoring the physics and chemistry of the shelf and the nearby Prince William Sound since their last cruise in May.  This will provide an unprecedented look at the seasonal progression during this unusual year.

The ability of scientists to keep their fingers on the pulse of the ocean has been increasing progressively over the past decades. An army of profiling drifters monitors temperature and salinity in the deep oceans beyond the continental shelf.  Satellites have also been able to follow the development of these warm conditions at the ocean’s surface.  But understanding the details of what is happening on the Alaskan shelf – and most importantly its biological consequences – requires regular ship-based surveys that are in place to capture extreme events such as 2014. The North Pacific Research Board, Alaska Ocean Observing System and the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council have formed a consortium to ensure such information is collected in Alaska and distribute that information to the public as soon as it becomes available.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

WHo we are

General Info

NPRB is a marine research organization that supports pressing fishery management issues or marine ecosystem needs.

Reports & Publications

More than 600 peer-reviewed publications have been produced through NPRB-funded research. Browse our reports here.


A 20 member Board, representing Federal, State, and other entitites receiving advice from Science and Advisory Panels.


Looking to partner? NPRB welcomes partnerships to co-fund research in areas of common interest and across its programs.

Outreach & Engagement

NPRB engages with a broad and diverse set of Alaskan stakeholders and audiences, from coastal communities to academia.


Supporting the Board, Science, and Advisory Panels for funding decisions, science priorities, recommendations, and program management.

Funding Available

The Core Program offers year-round funding with flexible rolling submission options.


NPRB staff begins developing draft research priorities for the Core Program in late July and August. Submit before July 2nd to be considered for the current year’s RFP development. 

Our Programs

Science Foundation

Research programs addressing pressing fishery management issues and Alaska marine ecosystem information needs.

Integrated Ecosystem Research

These are large-scale interdisciplinary ecosystem-based programs, requiring multiple agency coordination, collaboration, and investigation.

Outreach Program

Science communication, engagement, outreach, and education initiatives for NPRB programs.


A competitive, peer-reviewed annual request for proposal (RFP) process dedicated to Alaska marine research.




Supporting next generation scientists, researchers, and resource managers to further studies in marine science and to our mission.

Long-Term Monitoring

These are new or existing time-series projects that enhance the ability to understand the current state of marine ecosystems.

Examining how physical changes in the ocean influenced the flow of energy through the marine food web in the Bering Strait, Chukchi Sea, and western Beaufort Sea.

Studying the survival and recruitment of five focal groundfish species (Pacific cod, Pacific ocean perch, walleye pollock, arrowtooth flounder, sablefish) during their first year of life.

Understanding the impacts of climate change and dynamic sea ice cover on the eastern Bering Sea ecosystem in partnership with the National Science Foundation.


Bering Sea

COMING SOON! Focusing on the northern Bering Sea and will include consideration of upstream and downstream ecosystems in the southeastern Bering Sea, western Bering Sea, and Chukchi Sea.

About NPRB
  • Menu Item 1
  • Menu Item 2
  • Menu Item 3
  • Menu Item 4
  • Menu Item 5
  • Menu Item 6
  • Menu Item 7

Title Goes Here

Your content goes here. Edit or remove this text inline or in the module Content settings. You can also style every aspect of this content in the module Design settings and even apply custom CSS to this text in the

Title Goes Here

Your content goes here. Edit or remove this text inline or in the module Content settings. You can also style every aspect of this content in the module Design settings and even apply custom CSS to this text in the