11 Jul 2007

X-Ray Mag - International Dive Magazine. Subscription is free

First buoy to monitor ocean acidification deployed

The Gulf of Alaska has a new occupant: a buoy that will monitor ocean acidification, with attached sensors that can measure climate indicators.
Photo credit: NOAA.
"The instruments will measure the air-sea exchange of carbon dioxide, oxygen and nitrogen gas in addition to the pH, a measure of ocean acidity, of the surface waters," said Steven Emerson of the University of Washington, the project's lead scientist.

"This is the first system specifically designed to monitor ocean acidification."

The buoy, measuring 10 feet in diameter, is anchored in water nearly 5,000 meters deep. Once it hit the water, the buoy immediately began to transmit data via satellite.

"Information from this buoy will lead to a better understanding of ocean acidification - a growing threat to the world's oceans - by helping scientists determine exactly how physical and biological processes affect carbon dioxide in the north Pacific Ocean," said Fred Lipschultz, program director in NSF's division of ocean sciences.

The goal of the research is to examine how ocean circulation and ecosystems interact to determine how much carbon dioxide the north Pacific Ocean absorbs each year.

"The Gulf of Alaska region is particularly important because it is likely to be one of the first regions to feel the impacts of ocean acidification," said Christopher Sabine, an oceanographer from NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory.