Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Unmanned Aircraft Helping Scientists Learn About Alaskan Ice Seals

Date:
June 11, 2009
Source:
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Summary:
Scientists have launched an unmanned aircraft to mount the vehicle's first search for ice seals at the southern edge of the Bering Sea pack ice during the Arctic spring, in an effort to learn more about these remotely located species.

Ribbon seal and pup.
Credit: NOAA

NOAA's Fisheries Service scientists and their partners have launched an unmanned aircraft to mount the vehicle’s first search for ice seals at the southern edge of the Bering Sea pack ice during the Arctic spring, in an effort to learn more about these remotely located species.

On May 13, the NOAA research vessel McArthur II departed Kodiak, Alaska, and headed for the Bering Sea to launch the ScanEagle, an unmanned aircraft that is being used to collect images and video along the ice edge.

NOAA's Fisheries Service scientists from the Alaska Science Center’s National Marine Mammal Laboratory, in cooperation with the University of Alaska’s Cooperative Institute for Arctic Research, will use the images, taken during the month-long expedition, to evaluate whether unmanned aircraft could be useful for estimating the abundance and distribution of ice seals. In 2008, NOAA determined that ribbon seals should not be listed under the Endangered Species Act. NOAA was also petitioned to list spotted, bearded and ringed seals, and is gathering information and preparing status reviews for those species.

“The distributions of ice seals are broad and include areas very far from shore,” said Michael Cameron, NOAA's Fisheries Service’s lead scientist on the expedition. “Using traditional, manned aircraft to survey all of the sea ice habitat in Alaskan waters would be challenging, expensive and potentially dangerous. We hope that the ScanEagle will provide a safe and efficient way to collect information in this remote environment.”

The ScanEagle, owned and operated by the University of Alaska Fairbanks, weighs less than 27 pounds. When loaded with fuel and survey equipment it can fly for about 20 hours at a cruising speed between 48 and 75 knots.

The small aircraft is recovered through a modified "skyhook" system—a catch line, hung out over the water using a large deck crane, caught by airframe-mounted hooks on the ends of the ScanEagle wings.

“We tested the ScanEagle from two NOAA vessels, the Dyson and the McArthur II, in Puget Sound near Seattle,” said Robyn Angliss, deputy director of NOAA’s National Marine Mammal Laboratory. “It performed well and we expect the same in the far north.”

There are many potential applications of this technology in the North Pacific. In addition to surveys for ice seals and other easily visible marine mammals such as walrus, the system could potentially be used to study near surface oceanography, sea ice conditions and movements, and to collect information on atmospheric and weather conditions.

Collecting data on seals and sea ice will improve the agency’s understanding of seal habitat preferences and sensitivity to climate change.

Greg Walker and Don Hampton from the University of Alaska Fairbanks will be piloting their ScanEagle system from the McArthur II. Other key partners who have been pivotal in making this project successful are Insitu, the aircraft’s manufacturer, their subcontractor Evergreen, and the U.S. Navy.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "Unmanned Aircraft Helping Scientists Learn About Alaskan Ice Seals." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 June 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090606110130.htm>.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (2009, June 11). Unmanned Aircraft Helping Scientists Learn About Alaskan Ice Seals. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090606110130.htm
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "Unmanned Aircraft Helping Scientists Learn About Alaskan Ice Seals." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090606110130.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) A Texas man is lucky to be alive after he and three others floated for more than a day in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat sank during a fishing trip. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Explore Shipwrecks Off Calif. Coast

Researchers Explore Shipwrecks Off Calif. Coast

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Federal researchers are exploring more than a dozen underwater sites where they believe ships sank in the treacherous waters west of San Francisco in the decades following the Gold Rush. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Isolated N. Korea Asks For International Help With Volcano

Isolated N. Korea Asks For International Help With Volcano

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) Mount Paektu volcano in North Korea is showing signs of life and there's not much known about it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins