Understanding the exposure of the nation’s living marine resources such as shellfish and corals to changing ocean chemistry is a primary goal for the NOAA OAP. Repeat hydrographic surveys, ship-based surface observations, and time series stations (mooring and ship-based) in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans have allowed us to begin to understand the long-term changes in carbonate chemistry in response to ocean acidification.

Buoys & Moorings

There are currently 19 OAP-supported buoys in coastal, open-ocean and coral reef waters which contribute to NOAA's Ocean Acidification Monitoring Program, with other deployments planned.

Currently, there are two types of floating devices which instruments can be added in order to measure various ocean characteristics - buoys and wave gliders. Buoys are moored, allowing them to remain stationary and for scientists to get measurements from the same place over time. The time series created from these measurements are key to understanding how ocean chemistry is changing over time. There are also buoys moored in the open-ocean and near coral reef ecosystems to monitor the changes in the carbonate chemistry in these ecosystems. The MAP CO2 sensors on these buoys measure pCO2 every three hours.

Access our buoy data


Ship surveys

Research cruises are a way to collect information about a certain ecosystem or area of interest.

For decades, scientists have learned about physical, chemical and biological properties of the ocean and coasts by observations made at sea. Measurements taken during research cruises can be used to validate data taken by autonomous instruments. One instrument often used on research cruises is a conductivity, temperature, and depth sensor (CTD), which measures the physical state of the water (temperature, salinity, and depth). The sensor often goes in the water on a rosette, which also carries niskin bottles used to collect water samples from various depths in the water column. Numerous chemical and biological properties can be measured from water collected in niskin bottles.

Ships of Opportunity

Ships of Opportunity (SOPs) or Volunteer Observing Ships (VOSs) are vessels at sea for other reasons than ocean acidification studies, such as commercial cargo ships or ferries.

The owners of these vessels allow scientific instrumentation that measures ocean acidification (OA) parameters to be installed and collect data while the ship is underway. This allows data on ocean chemistry to be collected in many remote areas of the world's ocean, such as high latitude waters, long distances from land (e.g. mid-basin waters), and places not easily accessible by research cruises. These partnerships have greatly increased the spatial coverage of OA monitoring world-wide. To learn more, check out the Ships of Opportunity programs established by the NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) and the NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic Marine Laboratory (AOML).

Wave Gliders

Scientists at the NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) are working with engineers at Liquid Robotics, Inc. to optimize a Carbon Wave Glider.

This instrument (pictured above) can be driven via satellite from land. Carbon Wave Gliders can be outfitted with pCO2, pH, oxygen, temperature and salinity sensors, and the glider’s equipment takes measurements as it moves through the water. The glider’s motion is driven by wave energy, and its sensors are powered through solar cells and batteries, when needed.


NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) in partnership with OAP is engaged in a coordinated and targeted series of field observations, moorings and ecological monitoring efforts in coral reef ecosystems.

These efforts are designed to document the dynamics of ocean acidification (OA) in coral reef systems and track the status and trends in ecosystem response. This effort serves as a subset of a broader CRCP initiative referred to as the National Coral Reef Monitoring Plan, which was established to support conservation of the Nation’s coral reef ecosystems. The OAP contributes to this plan through overseeing and coordinating carbonate chemistry monitoring. This monitoring includes a broadly distributed spatial water sampling campaign complemented by a more limited set of moored instruments deployed at a small subset of representative sites in both the Atlantic/Caribbean and Pacific regions. Coral reef carbonate chemistry monitoring is implemented by researchers at the NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic & Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) and NOAA's PIFSC Coral Reef Ecosystems Division.




Service and Maintenence of the Gray's Reef OA Mooring

Wei-Jun Cai & Scott Noakes

This project will provide service and maintenance of sensors and ground-truthing of the mooring data at the Gray's Reef OA monitoring site, as well as data quality control and synthesis. Specifically, we will accomplish the follow three tasks: 1. Deployment and maintenance of the sensors (pCO2, pH, and dissolved oxygen); 2. Collection of underway pCO2 data and bulk water samples for analyses using ship-of-opportunity and dedicated cruises about four times a year; and 3. Data quality control and data synthesis.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016
Categories: Projects

Effects of elevated pCO2 and temperature on reef biodiversity and ecosystem functioning using Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures and hyperspectral technology

Molly Timmers, NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program

The goal of this project is to improve our understanding of the effects of ocean acidification and warming on coral reef communities by examining responses of entire suites of reef organisms recruiting to Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures (ARMS) in benthic mesocosms. We will perform a fully factorial experiment that consists of four treatments of low and high temperature and pCO₂ levels. ARMS are the leading long-term monitoring tool to measure biodiversity on reef systems and are integrated into the National Coral Reef Monitoring Program (NCRMP) Class II and Class III climate stations dedicated to monitor and access the physical, chemical and biological impacts associated with climate change over time. We propose to examine the effects of elevated temperature and pCO₂ on recruitment, biomass, biodiversity, and community structure over a multiannual time frame to increase our understanding of how biodiversity, ecosystem function, and their relationship will be impacted under future climate scenarios. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016
Categories: Projects

NCRMP – OA Enterprise

Jessica Morgan, Derek Manzello, Adrienne Sutton, Charles Young

NCRMP‐OA is a Joint Enterprise designed to address the Tier 1 Ocean Acidification (OA) components of the larger NCRMP strategic framework at Class 0, II, and III stations. Field work and laboratory analyses for the Atlantic/Caribbean region (Florida, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands [USVI], and Flower Garden Banks [FGB]) are executed by the OAR Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) and by the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) Caribbean Coastal Ocean Observing System (CariCOOS). Field work in the Pacific region (Main Hawaiian Islands [MHI], Northwestern Hawaiian Islands [NWHI], Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands [CNMI], American Sāmoa, and the Pacific Remote Island Areas [PRIA]) is executed by the NMFS Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center [PIFSC] Coral Reef Ecosystem Division (CRED); laboratory analyses for the Pacific region are executed by the OAR Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL). NCRMP‐OA Teams closely coordinate with other NCRMP elements (benthic, fish, water temperature, satellite, and socioeconomic teams), including PMEL’s NOAA Ocean Acidification Observing Network (NOA‐ON), other NOAA offices, Federal, State, and Territory agencies, and academic partners, in both the Atlantic and Pacific regions.  

This project monitors changes to coral reef carbonate chemistry over time, at US affiliated coral reef sites, through quantifying key chemical parameters that are expected to be impacted by ocean acidification. This effort addresses OAP programmatic themes 1 and 5 by maintaining the coral reef portion of the OA monitoring network and developing a procedure for data synthesis, assimilation, and distribution. Incorporating an interdisciplinary approach, this project will collect, process, analyze, and steward dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and total alkalinity (TA) water sample data to document seawater carbonate chemistry at Class 0, II, III climate monitoring sites in coral reef areas of the US Atlantic and Pacific regions.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016
Categories: Projects

Alaska Ocean Acidification Research: Autonomous Observations of Ocean Acidification in Alaska Coastal Seas

Jessica Cross, NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center

This OAP project represents the first contribution of OAP to sustained coastal Alaska OA monitoring through three years (2015-2017) of maintenance of two previously established OA mooring sites located in critical fishing areas. In FY2015, It also supported a 19 day OA survey cruise along the continental shelf of the Gulf of Alaska in summer of 2015, designed to fill observing gaps that have made it difficult to quantify the extent of OA events. This support has been critical for continuing OA research in Alaska, as the initial infrastructure funding was not sufficient or intended for long-term operation. 

These OAP-sponsored monitoring and observing activities support a number of cross-cutting research efforts. Firstly, the data itself will provide new insights into the seasonal progression of OA events caused by the progressive accumulation of anthropogenic CO2 into the region's coastal seas. The mooring and cruise data can also be used as an early warning system for stakeholders around the state, as well as to provide information for other types of OA research. Other projects within the OAP Alaska Enterprise focus on laboratory based evaluation of the impact of OA on commercially and ecologically important Alaskan species, especially during the vulnerable larval and juvenile life stages. This environmental monitoring informs those studies by describing the intensity, duration, and extent of OA events and providing a baseline for projecting future conditions. Finally, this observational data is used to validate new OA models that are currently being developed for the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea, and are applied in bio-economic models of crab and pollock abundance forecasts (e.g., Punt et al., 2014; Mathis et al., 2014).

Wednesday, November 16, 2016
Categories: Projects

Time series of OA and carbon system properties in the northern Gulf

Stephan Howden, The University of Southern Mississippi

This project will provide time-series observations of coastal ocean pH and carbon system properties, along with other variables that affect carbon transformations, in the northern Gulf of Mexico in support of goals elucidated in the NOAA Ocean and Great Lakes Acidification Research Implementation Plan. This project most directly addresses Theme 1: Develop the monitoring capacity to quantify and track ocean acidification in open-ocean, coastal, and Great Lake systems, but also addresses the educational objectives of Theme 6. USM will maintain a 3- m discus buoy in the northern Gulf of Mexico with a PMEL MAPCO2 system that includes a CTD, dissolved oxygen, and pH sensors. Meteorological sensors on the buoy will be utilized for computing air-sea fluxes of CO2. Water samples and continuous vertical profiles will be taken at the buoy site during quarterly cruises. Water samples will be analyzed for DIC, TA, pH, dO, S, NUTS and chlorophyll a. Analyzed water samples and profile data will be submitted to NODC through standard NOAA OAP submission spreadsheets containing both data and associated metadata.

While this work is focused on the Gulf of Mexico additional time-series sites in the South Atlantic Bight and Gulf of Maine can provide a comparison over a wide range of coastal and latitudinal regimes. The northern Gulf of Mexico, Florida and South Atlantic Bight regions are all commonly influenced by one contiguous western boundary current system, which originates with the Loop Current in the Gulf of Mexico and then becomes the Gulf Stream along the southeastern U.S. continental shelf. The Gulf of Mexico observations will be compared with the other western boundary current influenced site in the South Atlantic Bight maintained by the University of Georgia (UGA) and the high latitude site in the Gulf of Maine maintained by the University of New Hampshire (UNH). 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016
Categories: Projects