Assessing risks of ocean acidification in south-central and southeast Alaska

Tom Hurst - NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center

Evaluating ocean acidification vulnerability and interactions among traditional and coastal Alaska industries

Why we care
Many marine species affected by ocean acidification (OA) contribute to Alaska’s highly productive commercial fisheries and traditional subsistence ways of life. Concern exists that acidification will cause ecosystem-level shifts, diminishing the overall economic value of commercial fisheries and reducing food security for communities relying on subsistence harvests. 

What we are doing
This project addresses acidification threats in south-central and southeast Alaska. It involves the development of decision support tools incorporating acidification risks into localized socio-ecological systems. The tools are based on a network of models representing acidification hazards, bio-ecological systems, and socioeconomic systems linked to adaptive actions.

Benefits of our work
This project is an exchange of knowledge between scientists, policy makers, and community stakeholders. The network of models creates decision support tools responsive to stakeholder concerns that reflect regional variation in community priorities and their ecological social and management context. The project synthesizes the best available science to determine the risks posed by ocean acidification.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Understanding biodiversity in the Gulf of Mexico using eDNA

Luke Thompson - Mississippi State University

Assessing ecosystem responses of Gulf of Mexico coastal communities to ocean acidification using environmental DNA

Why we care 
Recent efforts to monitor ocean acidification in the Gulf of Mexico via the Gulf of Mexico Ecosystems and Carbon Cycle (GOMECC) cruises have revealed spatial differences in ocean acidification. While we know that ocean acidification negatively impacts many species and exacerbates the effects of oxygen limitation and harmful algal blooms, there is little work to monitor or predict the effects of ocean acidification on biodiversity. This project employs cutting-edge technology using environmental DNA to assess biodiversity in different conditions in the Gulf of Mexico region.

What we are doing
Every organism sheds DNA. This project analyzes environmental DNA (eDNA), which is free-floating or microscopic DNA found in seawater, collected during the 4th GOMECC cruise, to identify biodiversity of bacteria, plankton, and fish in the Gulf of Mexico. eDNA will be compared to ocean properties to draw conclusions about drivers of biodiversity. 

Benefits of our work
Links between eDNA, ocean acidification, and other ocean properties will provide a deeper understanding of environmental drivers of biodiversity. These relationships can inform predictions of biodiversity patterns and guide the management of key habitats in the Gulf of Mexico, and help us adapt to changing ocean conditions.


Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Next-Gen gene sequencing to understand effects of ocean acidification on Alaskan crab and fish

Chris Long - NOAA/NMFS Alaska Fisheries Science Center

Using next-generation sequencing techniques to assess adaptive capacity and illuminate mechanisms underlying the effects of high pCO2 on Alaskan crab and fish species

Why we care
Many economically important crab and fish species are negatively affected by exposure to ocean acidification predicted to occur throughout their ranges in the coming decades. Ocean acidification results in decreased growth, altered development, weaker exoskeletons, increased energy outputs, altered immune systems, altered behavior, and increased mortality in some of these species. Other stressors such as increased temperature can have interactive negative effects when combined with ocean acidification. Traditional laboratory experiments cannot duplicate the gradual changes that will affect species populations over multiple life-history stages and generations, so using next-generation genetic approaches provide insight into effects beyond specific life stages.

What we are doing 
This study will use next-generation sequencing techniques to identify specific alterations in the molecular, metabolic, and physiological pathways of individuals exposed to ocean acidification. This is a way to identify pathways that impart tolerance to ocean acidification and warming. This project determines the effect of ocean acidification and thermal stress on gene expression in Pacific cod larvae and juvenile Tanner crab and identifies genetic markers indicating ocean acidification resilience. 

Benefits of our work
Investigators will identify the cellular pathways that impart tolerance to ocean acidification. By comparing individuals that demonstrate low sensitivity to ocean acidification and with the general population, we enhance the ability to predict how adaptation will alter the species’ response to future ocean conditions. This research will inform the fishing industry and coastal, fisheries-dependent Alaskan communities about potential effects of ocean change on commercially important species. Outcomes can be used to drive future responses and adaptations in these industries regarding affected fisheries.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Ocean acidification interactions in the Gulf of Mexico

Xinping Hu - Texas A&M University

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

Why we care
In the coastal ocean, local drivers such as nutrient input and physical oceanographic changes impact the magnitude of short-term variations and long-term trends in ocean acidification. The Gulf of Mexico’s coral reefs and banks are ecologically sensitive to changing ocean chemistry. Decadal acidification has been observed in the Northwestern Gulf of Mexico, linked more strongly to biological production of carbon dioxide than uptake of human-emitted carbon dioxide. Whether the observed acidification in this region represents a short-term phenomenon or a long-term trend is unknown. This project maintains critical ocean acidification monitoring in a region with impacted habitats and species. 

What we are doing 
This project will test the hypothesis that enhanced atmospheric carbon dioxide, nutrient input, and upwelling will cause the continental shelf-slope region in the Northwestern Gulf of Mexico to acidify faster than other tropical and subtropical seas. The research team will incorporate observations from new large-scale surveys into oceanographic and statistical models that predict variation in ocean acidification over space and time.

Benefits of our work
The outcomes of this project will meet the long-term goal of optimizing ocean acidification monitoring in the Northwestern Gulf of Mexico and will document methodology that can be used in similar efforts in the future. This project will examine an area in the poorly understood Gulf of Mexico Large Marine Ecosystem, produce the first ever high-resolution dataset in surface and subsurface waters, and direct the future deployment of in-situ monitoring devices in this ecologically and economically important region.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Maintaining an ocean acidification monitoring buoy in American Samoa

Ian Enochs - NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory

National Coral Reef Monitoring Program: Support for Annual Refurbishment of MApCO2 Buoy and Cal/Val Sampling at Class III Site in American Samoa

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 (OA) on coral ecosystems over time. The NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) brings together scientists across NOAA to conduct sustained coastal ocean observations of biological climate and socioeconomic indicators in 10 priority U.S. coral reef areas. 

What we are doing
This project will provide high-quality carbonate chemistry data at a newly established National Coral Reef Monitoring Plan (NCRMP) monitoring site in Fagatele Bay, American Samoa. Using an interdisciplinary approach, scientists will collect, process, analyze, and steward continuous ocean acidification data. Observations of the carbonate system, the ocean’s buffering system, will be collected via a Moored Autonomous pCO2 (MApCO2) buoy providing freely-available high-quality carbon dioxide data that can then be used by project collaborators and partners to further research. 

Benefits of our work
The outcomes generated from this monitoring project will advance our understanding of the carbon cycle of coral reefs in American Samoa and the impacts to coral ecosystems. Ocean acidification data will help elucidate the natural biogeochemical influences at reefs, and can be used to determine if the magnitude of acidification occurring in the open ocean is also occurring on coral reefs.

Thursday, March 10, 2022
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