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Stantec-Led Marine Arctic Ecosystem Study Receives National Award

Feb 27, 2020 | Arctic, Featured, News, Science

Multiyear research of Alaskan, Canadian waters recognized for excellence in partnership

A mooring project, part of the Marine Arctic Ecosystem Study.


SAN DIEGO, CA—The National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP) announced that the Marine Arctic Ecosystem Study (MARES) is the 2019 recipient of the NOPP Excellence in Partnering Award. The award was presented at the Ocean Sciences Meeting in San Diego, California.

The Excellence in Partnering Award is given annually to a NOPP project that best exemplifies the NOPP’s objective of developing a successful network of partnerships to advance ocean sciences.

MARES is an international, interagency, and public-private partnership coordinated and planned by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and led by top ten global design firm Stantec, which conducts environmental studies worldwide. The study involves federal, academic, private, tribal, and state government sectors with the goal of enhancing our understanding of the structure and functioning of the Arctic marine ecosystem in the eastern Beaufort Sea. MARES, which started in 2014, stems from increased attention to climate change, energy development, and sustainability in the Arctic region. 

This coordination among twenty-five entities and five sectors in two countries was possible thanks to a novel partnership model concentrating management, funding, and research in a single focal point at both the management and research level. Over the course of this multiyear project, twenty variables were observed from different platforms and sensors, which is allowing researchers to provide a more holistic perspective of the structure and function of this marine ecosystem than was possible before.

Dr. Francis Wiese, MARES lead scientist and Stantec’s Technical Lead for Marine Science (right), accepts the NOPP Excellence in Partnering Award


Among project highlights:

  • First time high-resolution, multi-disciplinary (bio-physical and chemical) cross-shelf mooring array in the eastern Beaufort Sea.
  • A seven-week long multi-sensor glider mission on the Alaskan and Canadian Beaufort Sea shelf and Mackenzie canyon.
  • Biogeochemical and meiofaunal analyses of sediments.
  • New technology successfully used to acquire valuable information on seal behavior and habitat use.

“This honor illustrates the importance of partnering for research and study of Arctic waters,” said Dr. Francis Wiese, MARES lead scientist and Stantec’s Technical Lead for Marine Science based in Anchorage. “It takes a large and sustained team effort to successfully implement a project of this scale. We are thankful to have been working with a wonderful group of people over these last five years and thank NOPP for their continued contributions to ocean sciences and their efforts of integration through these types of partnerships. The health of the Arctic ecosystem has immediate as well as long-term and far-reaching implications. Developing a greater understanding of the region, how it is changing, and what that means for our future, is critical.”

“We are pleased that the important research we and our partners are conducting in the Arctic is being recognized,” said Dr. Walter Cruickshank, BOEM Acting Director. “With increasing interest in the Arctic, it’s vital that we expand our knowledge of the Beaufort Sea ecosystem to help inform our energy-related decision making. Forward-thinking partnerships like MARES rely on sustained collaborative efforts to succeed. We appreciate the commitment and dedication our partners have demonstrated throughout this study.”

BOEM’s federal and private sector NOPP partners included the US Arctic Research Commission, US Coast Guard, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office of Naval Research, and Shell Oil Company. Local partners included the North Slope Borough Department of Wildlife Management and Iñupiat hunters in Alaska and the Inuvialuit in Canada.

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