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.
Why we care
The Insular Pacific-Hawaiian Large Marine Ecosystem (IPH-LME) Complex provides critical benthic and oceanographic habitats for important fisheries and protected resources. A critical missing piece in assessing vulnerability in the Hawaiian Islands to ocean change is understanding the variability of ocean properties and ocean acidification in space and time. Coral reef managers are particularly challenged with sustaining the ecosystem functions and services under changing environmental and human impacts.
What we are doing
This project takes a modeling approach to link the state of the ecosystem with societal outcomes to assess risk vulnerability in the IPH-LME. Researchers will combine state-of-the-art climate, regional, and coral reef ecosystem models with satellite assessments of ocean acidification. Results will provide robust projections of ocean acidification-related stress across the IPH-LME for the next 5 decades (2020-2070. Societal data will be collected through interviews, workshops, and community surveys to expand the number of relationships modeled. Vulnerability of the Hawaiian Islands to the projected ocean acidification-related stress will be evaluated using relationships between ecological and social state components. Resource managers will evaluate tradeoffs between different management practices and climate futures to determine which interventions would be most effective in supporting ecosystem integrity while enhancing societal wellbeing in the face of ocean acidification.
Benefits of our work
Collaboration between scientists, managers, non-governmental organizations, and resource users will help ensure that socio-economic and biophysical processes are both considered when evaluating consequences of policy decisions and climate projections. This transdisciplinary approach provides opportunities to build relationships among the project stakeholders. This project directly supports the Hawai‘i Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) in its efforts to develop vulnerability analyses and a state action plan for ocean acidification to build adaptation and resilience in communities affected by ocean acidification. The social vulnerability analysis method developed under this project will have broad applicability
Why we care
Long-term observations of carbonate chemistry at U.S.-affiliated coral reef sites are critical to understanding the impact of ocean acidification on coral ecosystems over time.
What we are doing
Incorporating an interdisciplinary approach, this project will collect, process, analyze, and steward continuous data measuring parts of ocean carbonate system, the ocean’s buffering system. Specifically, this project will include partial pressure of carbon dioxide, pH (measure of acidity), dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and total alkalinity to document seawater carbonate chemistry at a newly established climate monitoring site in Fagatele Bay, American Sāmoa.
Benefits of our work
This work produces long-term, continuous, high-quality data of seawater carbonate chemistry needed to track where and how ocean chemistry is changing. The work will initially provide an increased understanding of the natural biogeochemical influences of reef carbon dioxide. In the future, this work will help determine if the magnitude of acidification occurring in the open ocean is also occurring at coral reefs. The buoy at this site will provide freely-available, high-quality carbon dioxide data people can use to better understand the carbon cycle of coral reefs in American Sāmoa and the impacts to coral ecosystems. This will be the only southern hemisphere Class III site in both the Atlantic and Pacific, spanning a large latitudinal gradient.
Why we care:
Enhancing our ability to measure water chemistry with the best technology available is essential to understand and track where and how ocean acidification changes in marine ecosystems. The NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) Carbon Group continuously augments, develops, and evaluates sensors on moorings to collect information about natural variability in inorganic carbon chemistry over daily to inter-annual cycles. This project will identify, develop, and implement the best technology to support the existing National Ocean Acidification Observing Network (NOA-ON) buoy network and increase coverage of ocean acidification time series observations.
What we are doing:
The three main project activities include: 1) compile autonomous profile data at the Chába site and apply to biological exposure research; 2) test prototype total alkalinity (TA) sensors at the coral reef test-beds at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii (CRIMP2 buoy) and Florida Keys (Cheeca Rocks buoy); and 3) continue development of a pCO2-DIC sensor based on the need to improve data return of two carbon parameters from the NOA-ON buoys. These sensors measure parts of the carbonate system, the ocean’s buffering system.
Benefits of our work:
This project supports the main goals of the NOA-ON by quantifying temporal variability in the ocean carbon system and making these high-quality time series available to other scientists and the public. Specific benefits provided to stakeholders include: 1) improved understanding of the range of subsurface ocean acidification conditions in two U.S. coral systems; 2) improved understanding of annual, seasonal, and event-scale variability of subsurface ocean acidification conditions and the potential impact to marine organisms; and 3) improved access to high-quality, high-frequency subsurface data to inform biological research and validation of ocean biogeochemical models and coastal forecasts.
Acidification in brackish estuarine environments, such as the Chesapeake Bay, is intensified by coastal inputs such as runoff, atmospheric pollution and freshwater sources. The Chesapeake Bay is home to commercial shellfish hatcheries that supply seed that is sold to and planted in hundreds of shellfish farms within the Chesapeake. A great deal of research has been dedicated to understanding the impact of acidification on shellfish, and has shown even greater impacts to shellfish growth and survival in lower salinity and nutrient-rich environments. The shellfish industry relies on consistent hatchery production to sustain and expand operations that could greatly benefit from regional OA forecasts and metrics. This project will synthesize recent CO2 system observations with long-term water quality parameters and combine observations an existing baywide, high-resolution 3D model. The proposed research will develop forecasts of acidification and develop acidification metrics tailored to support decision-making needs of commercial shellfish hatchery and nursery operators.
Among the NOAA designated Large Marine Ecosystems, the Gulf
of Mexico (GOM) remains poorly understood in terms of its current OA conditions, despite its
ecological and economic significance. In the northwestern GOM (nwGOM), decadal
acidification has been observed in the shelf-slope region, with metabolic production of CO2
contributing to a larger fraction of CO2 accumulation than uptake of anthropogenic CO2, and the
observed rate of acidification is significantly greater than that in other tropical and subtropical
areas. Unfortunately, whether the observed OA in this region represents a short-term
phenomenon or a long-term trend is unknown.
It is hypothesized that increasing atmospheric CO2, increasing terrestrial nutrient export
due to an enhanced hydrological cycle, and enhanced upwelling due to climate change will cause
the continental shelf-slope region in the nwGOM to acidify faster than other tropical and
subtropical seas. In order to test this hypothesis wave gliders, in -stiu sensor along withe underway measurements from research vessels will measure carbonated chemistry in in surface and shallow waters. Modeling will be used tp integrate the chemical signals into the models to hindcast/predict spatia; and temporal variation of the OA signal for the the optimization of monitoring design and implementation.