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Rebecca Woodgate

Senior Principal Oceanographer

Professor, Oceanography






Dr. Woodgate is a physical oceanographer, specialising in polar research, with special focus on the circulation of the Arctic Ocean, interactions between sea-ice and the ocean, and the role of the polar oceans in climate. Her research concentrates on the collection and analysis of in-situ oceanographic data. She has worked for many years in the deployment and recovery of moored oceanographic instrumentation in ice-covered waters, and the analysis of both mooring and hydrographic data. She is involved in undergraduate teaching and graduate education. She has worked on British, German, Norwegian, and American research vessels and led expeditions to Bering Strait and the Arctic Ocean.

Her first degree is in physics from the University of Cambridge and her PhD (University of Oxford) is in data assimilation in ocean models. Her postdoc work was done at the Alfred-Wegener Institute in Germany.

Dr. Woodgate's research goal is to understand the physical processes in both Arctic and Antarctic regions, and to use her background to bridge the gap between theory, modeling, and real observations of the oceans.

Department Affiliation

Polar Science Center


B.A. Physics & Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge, Christ's College, 1990

Ph.D. Oceanography, University of Oxford, 1994


High Latitude Dynamics

Year-round subsurface moorings are used to study the Arctic throughout the year. PIs Aagaard and Woodgate focus on mooring and other in situ data to address a variety of Arctic questions - including flow of Atlantic and Pacific waters, interactions between the shelves and the deep basins, and the properties of the Arctic Ocean Boundary Current.


Changing Sea Ice and the Bering Sea Ecosystem

Part of the BEST (Bering Sea Ecosystem Study) Project, this study will use high-resolution modeling of Bering Sea circulation to understand past change in the eastern Bering climate and ecosystem and to predict the timing and scope of future change.


Bering Strait: Pacific Gateway to the Arctic

The Bering Strait is the only Pacific gateway to the Arctic. Since 1990, under various funding, APL-UW has been measuring properties of the Pacific inflow using long-term in situ moorings, supported by annual cruises. Data, papers, cruise reports, plans, and results are available.


More Projects


2000-present and while at APL-UW

Quantifying the effect of ship noise on the acoustic environment of the Bering Strait

Escajeda, E.D., K.M. Stafford, R.A. Woodgate, and K.L. Laidre, "Quantifying the effect of ship noise on the acoustic environment of the Bering Strait," Mar. Pollut. Bull., 187, doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2022.114557, 2023.

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1 Feb 2023

The narrow Bering Strait provides the only gateway between the Pacific Ocean and the Arctic, bringing migrating marine mammals in close proximity to ships transiting the strait. We characterized ship activity in the Bering Strait during the open-water season (July–November) for 2013–2015 and quantified the impact of ship noise on third-octave sound levels (TOLs) for bands used by baleen whales (25–1000 Hz). Peak ship activity occurred in July––September with the greatest overlap in ship noise and whale vocalizations observed in October. Ships elevated sound levels by ~4 dB on average for all TOL bands combined, and 250-Hz TOLs exceeding 100 dB re 1 μPa were recorded from two large vessels over 11 km away from the hydrophones. Our results show that ship noise has the potential to impact baleen whales in the Bering Strait and serve as a baseline for measuring future changes in ship activity in the region.

Monitoring Alaskan Arctic shelf ecosystems through collaborative observation networks

Danielson, S.L., and 21 others including C. Peralta-Ferriz and R. Woodgate, "Monitoring Alaskan Arctic shelf ecosystems through collaborative observation networks," Oceanography, 35, 198-209, doi:10.5670/oceanog.2022.119, 2022.

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1 Dec 2022

Ongoing scientific programs that monitor marine environmental and ecological systems and changes comprise an informal but collaborative, information-rich, and spatially extensive network for the Alaskan Arctic continental shelves. Such programs reflect contributions and priorities of regional, national, and international funding agencies, as well as private donors and communities. These science programs are operated by a variety of local, regional, state, and national agencies, and academic, Tribal, for-profit, and nongovernmental nonprofit entities. Efforts include research ship and autonomous vehicle surveys, year-long mooring deployments, and observations from coastal communities. Inter-program coordination allows cost-effective leveraging of field logistics and collected data into value-added information that fosters new insights unattainable by any single program operating alone. Coordination occurs at many levels, from discussions at marine mammal co-management meetings and interagency meetings to scientific symposia and data workshops. Together, the efforts represented by this collection of loosely linked long-term monitoring programs enable a biologically focused scientific foundation for understanding ecosystem responses to warming water temperatures and declining Arctic sea ice. Here, we introduce a variety of currently active monitoring efforts in the Alaskan Arctic marine realm that exemplify the above attributes.

Mooring measurements of Anadyr current nitrate, phosphate, and silicate enable updated Bering Strait nutrient flux estimates

Hennon, T.D., S.L. Danielson, R.A. Woodgate, B. Irving, D.A. Stockwell, and C.W. Mordy, "Mooring measurements of Anadyr current nitrate, phosphate, and silicate enable updated Bering Strait nutrient flux estimates," Geophys. Res. Lett., 49, doi:10.1029/2022GL098908, 2022.

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28 Aug 2022

In situ nutrient concentration data and salinity-nutrient parameterizations established at Anadyr Strait from June 2017 to June 2018 are used to estimate monthly Pacific-to-Arctic fluxes of nitrate, phosphate, and silicate through Bering Strait over 1997–2019. In most months our estimates rely on measurements made from mooring-based sensors and whole water samples, while over May–August the basis is shipboard hydrography. We find annually averaged Bering Strait fluxes of 16 ± 6, 1.5 ± 0.5, and 30 ± 11 kmol/s for nitrate, phosphate, and silicate, respectively, with inter-annual variability ±30% of the mean. Maximum fluxes occur in April, exceeding the annual average by ~50%, while minimum fluxes occur in December. Annually averaged fluxes estimated here are ~50% higher than previous estimates. Significant (p < 0.05) increasing trends in phosphate and silicate fluxes are found over 1998–2018, but not nitrate. However, it is unclear if these trend results are due to differences in draw-down or limitations of the salinity-nutrient parameterizations.

More Publications

Acoustics Air-Sea Interaction & Remote Sensing Center for Environmental & Information Systems Center for Industrial & Medical Ultrasound Electronic & Photonic Systems Ocean Engineering Ocean Physics Polar Science Center