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The Alliance Group has been implementing the RUSALCA Program since its inception in 2003 under the Cooperative Agreement with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and with financial support by the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) in the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding between RAS and NOAA signed in 2003. The project has also been backed up by the Hydrometeorological Service of the Russian Federation (Roshydromet) under the auspices of the Memorandum of Understanding between Roshydromet and NOAA signed in 2005. RUSALCA is an abbreviation for the full project name - Russian-American Long-term Census of the Arctic. The word RUSALCA means mermaid in Russian.
The project goal is to carry out long-term research to understand better causes and consequences of the reduction of ice cover in the northern part of the Bering Sea and the Chukchi Sea in the Arctic Ocean. Numerical modeling results suggest that expected permanent loss in the seasonal ice cover and albedo alterations should lead to significant changes in water-column and current fluxes and in appropriate ecosystems in this region. Therefore, it is very critical to monitor the current state and dynamics of ocean fluxes and the ecosystems in this region.
A limited number of CTD stations (Conductivity, Temperature, and Density), along with benthic biological stations, was made in 2005 through 2008. A large, multidisciplinary expedition has been planned and successfully implemented in the year of 2009 in the Beaufort, East-Siberian and Chukchi Seas. The 2009 research cruise has been widely covered by the news media even prior to its completion, including internationally recognized mass media such as The New York Times and Reuters.
Throughout the RUSALCA Program, which ALLIANCE Group coordinates jointly with NOAA, RAS, and Roshydromet, an annual cruise is going to be organized to work mainly in research areas of physics of the Bering Strait region. It is planned that multidisciplinary and geographically more extensive research cruises will be arranged every 2 to 4 years in the northern part of the Bering Sea, East-Siberian, Chukchi and Beaufort Seas due to availability of sufficient financial resources.