MELBOURNE, FLA. — John H. Trefry, Florida Institute of Technology professor in the Department of Marine and Environmental Systems, has been awarded
$1,012,000 in new funding from several sources to continue his environmental research in Alaska.
A contract from the U.S. Department of Interior, Minerals Management Service, will allow Trefry to participate in a two-year chemical and biological
assessment of the Chukchi Sea prior to opening the area for offshore oil drilling. The Chukchi Sea is located north of the Bering Strait between Alaska and
Russia. Results from the study should help identify areas of ecological importance and discern whether future chemical or biological changes are related to
oil and gas activities, climate change or natural variability.
“A challenge of our upcoming studies,” said Trefry, “is to distinguish the impacts of any regional human activities from processes that may relate to
global climate change.”
Trefry’s federal funding is augmented by money from Shell Exploration & Production Co. and Conoco Phillips Alaska Inc. for complementary efforts in
both the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. Additionally and part of the total amount, Trefry received $115,000 from the Cook Inlet Regional Citizens Advisory
Council and Chevron for biogeochemical studies in Cook Inlet, Alaska.
“Good cooperation is essential among governmental and non-governmental agencies, and oil and gas companies to coordinate research activities in Alaska.
This combined funding is a strong indicator of the commitment of Alaskans to preserving their natural resources,” said Trefry.
Trefry has carried out research in Alaska and the Alaskan Arctic since 1997. Collaborators in the upcoming studies are from the University of Texas;
University of Maryland; University of Alaska, Fairbanks; Kinnetics Laboratories; and the Russian Academy of Sciences. The group leaves for its first one
month cruise aboard the research vessel Alpha Helix in late July.