- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 2, 2014

NOME, Alaska (AP) - Funding is running out for a temperature- and wave-height measuring buoy in the Bering Strait, and the scientist who deployed it hopes to find other sources to keep it operating.

David Atkinson of the University of Victoria in British Columbia said the buoy every hour gathers data that’s live-streamed for local users, KNOM-radio (https://bit.ly/1reNbQC) reported.

“It can probably be deployed for about $10,000 per year - per season,” Atkinson said. “So if the buoy is to go out again in future years, that amount of money needs to be gathered up in some way, shape, or form.”

Atkinson first deployed the buoy in 2011 for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a yearlong project. Western AK LLC, or Western Alaska Landscape Conservation Cooperative, paid to operate the buoy into 2014.

That funding source is running out for the buoy 30 miles west of King Island.

A possibility for new funding, Atkinson said, could be a combination of users that includes the National Weather Service, Red Dog Mine, Norton Sound Economic Development Corp. and others in Nome or surrounding villages.

Crab, halibut and subsistence fishermen use the site. More than 700 hits were recorded on the website the first year.

“Which isn’t bad considering the small user group that really cares about it,” Atkinson said. “And the hits rise and fall - whenever there’s a storm coming, the number of hits soared.”

Ellen Tyler of the Alaska Ocean Observing System is assisting Atkinson. She will visit Nome in October to speak to people interested in being part-owners. They could have a say in where it’s deployed, she said.

“You know, there’s just no other wave buoys that are out in the middle of the ocean like this,” Tyler said. “And so from the researcher’s perspective, there’s no data, so anywhere you put it would be new information!”

Atkinson has relied on boaters to set out and retrieve the buoy each spring and fall. It’s a challenge in storm season. Four vessels passed the buoy last year before one finally retrieved it.

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Information from: KNOM-AM, https://www.knom.org


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