Understanding the risks of potential vessel groundings along four major traffic lanes through the Aleutian Islands on the Great Circle Route.
The recording is available here: https://youtu.be/S4P7pWA9MZw
In recent years emerging routes through the Bering Strait and Chukchi Sea have drawn significant international attention because of expected new traffic resulting from decreased seasonal sea ice. However, the vast majority of international vessel traffic in Alaska actually transits through the southern Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands via the Great Circle Route. Within this high use route (9-12 vessels per day), there is a potential risk of vessel incidents that might result in oil spills and subsequent impacts.
These spills have the potential to harm key regional subsistence species like marine mammals, birds and fish/shellfish. They also pose grave potential risk to commercial fisheries both in terms of direct impacts and also potential harm to market dynamics based on perceived contamination of commercial species of fish and shellfish. Using information on predominant local winds, surface currents, and the shape and buoyancy of a simulated tanker vessel we were able to run thousands of simulated vessel drift events using the General NOAA Operational Modeling Environment (GNOME) model. We will share results of this drift modeling effort relative to risks posed to Steller Sea Lions and seabird colonies in the Aleutian Islands. This work is a preliminary modelling effort that can be expanded in the future.
Partners include Wildlife Conservation Society and Genwest.