The Beaufort Gyre (BG) is one of the Arctic Ocean's main dynamical sea-ice and ocean circulation systems, its major freshwater reservoir, and a centerpiece for Arctic and global change. From 2003 to 2019 (seventeen years the Beaufort Gyre Observing System (BGOS) lifetime) freshwater content in this region has increased almost 40%, and there has been an alarming doubling in upper-ocean heat content. These changes have critical consequences for Arctic sea-ice and climate. Physical changes have been accompanied by fundamental biogeochemical changes, including ocean acidification and transformations in food-web structure. Understanding the evolution and fate of BG freshwater and heat content, and the biogeochemical change underway in the system, requires the continuous measurements of environmental parameters of the Beaufort Gyre system in the same uninterrupted manner and at the same sustained locations. Data returned from BGOS, distributed freely via the project website and archived with the NSF Arctic Data Center advances understanding of the physical, chemical, and biological drivers of environmental change in the Arctic, their relationship to the climate system, and their linkages to global processes. The long-term BG system perspective supported by NSF since 2003 was recently extended to 2024 and results of these observations are vital to a wide variety of Arctic processes, climate studies, and operational forecasting.
The BGOS ocean moorings sample seawater properties and sea-ice to resolve sub-daily to interannual variability. Annual ship-based ocean sampling, in collaboration with Canadian scientists, augment the year-round mooring measurements. The observing program coordinate with and accommodate other national and international projects to enhance effectiveness and interconnections of observing activities. BGOS data collection and analysis are an integral, collaborative component of the AON contributing to the main priorities outlined in the SEARCH Implementation Plan: Observing and understanding change. The long-term BG system perspective and knowledge gained from the data and analysis are vital to a wide variety of Arctic processes, climate studies, and operational forecasting, and spurs further Arctic investigations in alignment with "Navigating the New Arctic", one of the 10 Big Ideas put forward by NSF (NSF 18-048: Dear Colleague Letter: Stimulating Research Related to Navigating the New Arctic, One of NSF's 10 Big Ideas).
Project activities are coordinated with the broader research community through conference special sessions and workshops, and special volume issues of publications. Educational broader impacts include training of students, providing them with the opportunity to participate in BGOS expeditions and advising them in BGOS data analysis. The project website unifies all program activities, providing visitors access to the full set of BGOS data and expedition information, as well as educational project context and historical information on Arctic exploration and discovery.