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December 17, 2009

High school students to tackle shrinking sea ice at ocean science bowl

Seward, Alaska—High school students preparing for the 2010 Alaska Region National Ocean Sciences Bowl will not only have to answer dozens of questions about ocean science, but also one big one: how will shrinking sea ice affect Alaska’s coastal communities?

A record 21 teams from all over Alaska will converge on Seward Feb. 5-7 for the Alaska Region NOSB, also called the Tsunami Bowl.

The competition consists of two equally weighted parts: a tournament-style academic competition designed to challenge students' knowledge of ocean sciences; and a research project that has both written and public speaking components. This year the research project focuses on receding sea ice and Alaska's coasts.

Many of the teams are looking at how specific communities will be affected by shrinking sea ice. For example, the team from Cordova High is researching the problems facing Barrow as a result of thinning sea ice, while a team from Mountain Village is looking at the ways receding ice is affecting subsistence in their village.

Other teams are taking a broader approach to the research project. Soldotna High School is studying how reduced sea ice impacts polar bears, and the Kotzebue team is looking at how global warming may affect shipping.

"We are very excited about this year’s research project. Each of the teams has picked a unique way of looking at how thinning and receding sea ice may affect Alaska's coastal residents," says organizer Phyllis Shoemaker of the UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences.

"We are looking forward to hearing each team's oral presentation when they come to Seward in February, as well as having a spirited competition in the quiz bowl."

Up to 21 teams representing 16 Alaska high schools plan to compete in the 2010 Alaska Region NOSB. New schools include Hoonah High School and Ketchikan High School.

"This year's Tsunami Bowl will have lots of new blood, with two new schools and several new coaches joining us for the first time. This is the first year of participation for about two thirds of the students," says Shoemaker.

The winner of the Alaska Region NOSB competition will compete in the NOSB finals, scheduled to take place in Florida in April 2010.

2010 Alaska NOSB Teams

Sponsors of the 2010 Alaska Tsunami Bowl include the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences and Seward Marine Center, Dolly Dieter, The Glosten Associates, Prince William Sound Science Center, Norseman Maritime Charters, Seward Fisheries/Icicle Seafoods, Kenai Fjord Tours, Kenai Fjords National Park, Ocean Alaska Science and Learning Center, Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, Kachemak Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, and Aurora Energy Services.


Phyllis Shoemaker, UAF SFOS Seward Marine Center, by phone at 907-224-4312 or via e-mail at OR Carin Stephens, public information officer, by phone at 907-322-8730 or via e-mail at

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