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.
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
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 (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).
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.
Effects of predicted changes in ocean pCO2 and interactions with other stressors on the physiology and behavior of commercially important crabs in Alaska
Why we care
Ocean acidification disrupts the internal acid-base balance of crabs and may hinder the creation and maintenance of shells. Previous studies on commercially important crab species in Alaska found that ocean acidification changes physiology, decreases growth and condition, increases mortality, decreases hatching success, and changes exoskeleton (shell) hardness and structure in many Alaska crab species. Ocean temperature is a co-stressor, which may either decrease or increase the effects of ocean acidification on crabs. These individual effects may lead to population level decreases and impact coastal communities that rely on them if these crabs are unable to acclimate or adapt.
What we are doing
The Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC) aims to enhance our understanding of species responses to ocean acidification, predict how changes in ocean chemistry will affect marine ecosystems and organisms, assess socioeconomic impacts, and provide ocean acidification education and outreach. This project continues to assess the physiological response to ocean acidification of early life history stages in crabs. Researchers will examine the potential for acclimation of crab species through experimentation. Experimental data will be used to inform modeling efforts to assess the dynamics of the crab populations and coastal community resilience to future environmental changes in the ocean.
Benefits of our work
The AFSC team will continue to address individual physiological responses that can be scaled to population level effects. Additionally, we will focus on cellular and molecular responses to better understand the potential for acclimation or adaptation. Results from this project will inform models, including stock assessments for long-term fisheries management through the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council.
Forecast effects of ocean acidification on Alaska crab and groundfish fisheries
Why we care
Ocean acidification (OA) is a multi-disciplinary problem that requires a combination of methods from oceanography, fisheries science, and social science to assess socio-economic impacts. While OA impact models developed to date capture some sources of measurement uncertainty, more remains and limits the utility of models in decision making and research planning. A method is needed to quantify uncertainty relating the experimental design of OA experiments to the impacts of ocean pH and temperature on key model outcomes.
What we are doing
The bioeconomic model developed under this project will be applied to forecasting long-term effects of OA on Eastern Bering Sea (EBS) crab, northern rock sole and Alaska cod. Also addressed in this project is the quantification of uncertainty for inclusion in the fisheries management process. The overall goal for this project is to forecast long-term effects of OA on abundance yields and fishery income. To this end, we will apply results from experiments and ocean monitoring/modeling to infer population-scale changes in juvenile growth and survival from OA.
Benefits of our work
Through development of bioeconomic models for the EBS and Gulf of Alaska, we will be able to forecast the long-term effects of OA on northern rock sole and Alaska cod – a fish providing the vast majority of U.S. cod. These models make it possible to estimate abundance yields, fishery income, and economic impacts of OA on a national scale. The results from the project can assist with the development of experiments that will be most informative for bioeconomic modeling.