Optimizing Acidification Observations In A Changing Ocean NOAA Ocean Acidification program

There are hundreds if not thousands of eyes on our changing ocean at any moment: Buoys, gliders, saildrones and ships measure carbonate chemistry and new ocean observing technologies are continually being created to monitor ocean acidification. As science and technology progress it is important to ensure that the most up to date knowledge is applied to the task at hand. NOAA’s Ocean Acidification Program (OAP) is teaming up with the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®) to fund four projects aimed at improving the observing system design for characterizing ocean acidification. This work will evaluate the capability of existing observations to characterize the magnitude and extent of acidification and explore alternative regional ocean acidification observing approaches. Ultimately this work will minimize errors in measurements, better integrate existing observations, and minimize costs of monitoring ocean acidification.

Learn more about this exciting work below!

Optimizing Ocean Acidification Observations for Model Parameterization in the Coupled Slope Water System of the U.S. Northeast Large Marine Ecosystem

Lead by Grace Saba, Rutgers University

The U.S. Northeast Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem supports some of the nation’s most economically valuable coastal fisheries, and most of this revenue comes from shellfish that are sensitive to ocean acidification (OA). This research team, led by Dr. Saba at Rutgers, plans to add seasonal deployments of underwater gliders equipped with sensors, including newly developed pH sensors,to understand how the ocean chemistry in this region varies on seasonal timescales relevant to organism ecologies and life histories. They also plan to improve existing regional sampling with additional carbonate chemistry measurements on other platforms in several key locations, and compiling and integrating this new information with existing OA assets. The researchers will then apply these data to an existing ocean ecosystem/biogeochemical (BGC) model to explore how carbonate chemistry is changing on the Northeast Shelf. The model will then be used to test hypotheses focused on the drivers of OA and identify locations are for long term OA monitoring.

Ocean Acidification on a Crossroad: Enhanced Respiration, Upwelling, Increasing Atmospheric CO2, and their interactions in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico (nwGOM)

Lead by Xinping Hu, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

Scientists hypothesize that increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide, combined with increasing nutrient run-off and enhanced upwelling due to climate change will cause the Northwest Gulf of Mexico(nwGOM) to acidify faster than other tropical and subtropical seas. Both field and modeling studies are proposed to test this theory. The fieldwork will include a wave glider to cover a large area and fixed sensors to give them high-resolution measurements at a location near the shelf-slope break. Multiple research cruises will gather water samples from the study area for more in-depth laboratory analysis. Both physical and statistical modeling will be used to incorporate the chemical signals in order to predict how the ocean chemistry is changing across time and space. The combination of the field and modeling work will tell us where monitoring is needed in the nwGOM, a poorly understood area.

Assessment of the Observing Network to Identify Processes Relevant to the Predictability of the Coastal Ocean of the Northeast on Centennial Time Scales

Lead by Samantha Siedlecki, University of Connecticut:

Over recent decades, the combination of fossil fuel emission, deforestation, and cement production have imparted large physical and biogeochemical changes on the world’s oceans. All of these ocean changes are also occurring in coastal waters, but in some cases, at different rates than observed globally. Local processes like freshwater due to rainfall, nutrient run off, water column metabolism, and sediment interactions that drive the variability on regional scales can also modify spatial variability in aragonite saturation state (Ωarag). Global model projections cannot “see” these local processes which happen on a much smaller scale. Some high-resolution global model projections have been developed which perform well in some coastal settings. However, these models do not include the regional biogeochemical processes described above which can exacerbate these global changes, particularly in coastal regions. This project’s hypothesis is that a regionally downscaled projection for the east coast of the US can be used to evaluate the ability of the existing observational network to detect changes in ocean acidification relevant stressors for scallops and propose a process-based strategy for the network moving forward.

An observing system optimization study for ocean acidification along the central and northern California coast

Lead by Christopher Edwards, University of California Santa Cruz:

Dr. Edwards, University of California Santa Cruz, plans to conduct an observing system optimization study to assess how well the monitoring platforms that are currently deployed represent regional exposure to ocean acidification (OA) along the central and northern California coast and to identify opportunities for improvement. This region is particularly exposed to OA risk due to its upwelling that brings low pH and low oxygen subsurface waters of the north Pacific Ocean to the surface in nearshore coastal environments. Many animals are vulnerable to low pH, including species found at the base of food webs, such as pteropods and krill, and commercially and ecologically important fisheries species, such as Dungeness crab and red sea urchins. There are a number of observing assets in the region that record OA-related information, but the efficacy of the network as a whole has not been evaluated. This project will investigate how the observation network as a whole quantitatively constrains data assimilative model estimates of OA conditions throughout the central California Current System (CCS).


Title image: A CTD cast at a Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary site. Photo credit: Xinping Hu, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Image 1: NOAA Ship Fairweather stationed near ocean acidification buoy during research cruise. Photo Credit: NOAA Image 2: Grace Saba prepares to deploy an underwater glider fitted with a newly developed pH sensor, Photo credit: Eric Niiler, WIRED Image 3: Maritime Archaeology Milestone for Okeanos Explorer Program - March 27, 2012 – NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer conducts operations in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Photo Credit: NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program Image 4: Port Clyde Harbor, Maine. Photo credit: NOAA Image 5: Northern California coastline. Photo credit: NOAA