Tracking ocean acidification across political boundaries: NOAA-Hakai Institute collaboration

The Pacific Ocean has no borders. However, tracking ocean conditions across political borders requires coordination and collaboration. The Hakai Institute’s two coastal ecological observatories are situated almost perfectly at the center of the British Columbia-sized geographical gap between Washington and Alaska. With scientific facilities on both Calvert and Quadra Islands in British Columbia, the Hakai Institute is uniquely placed to add a Canadian complement to NOAA’s ocean acidification monitoring in US waters. Continue reading “Tracking ocean acidification across political boundaries: NOAA-Hakai Institute collaboration”

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The Basics on Alkalinity

Ocean Acidification is not just about pH! In this post, you'll learn how it shifts the
Acidification is about more than just pH! This post will explain how seawater ‘alkalinity’ affects the balance of all of the carbon-containing molecules (aka ‘carbon species’) in this National Resource Council graphic.

If you’ve been following this blog, you’re probably pretty familiar with ocean acidification by now, but figuring out what’s going on with the ocean chemistry is not actually as simple as just measuring the pH. Continue reading “The Basics on Alkalinity”

pHretting over pH

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Acidity is measured on the pH scale. This scale can be a bit counter-intuitive, since the pH value decreases as acidity increases. Click on the image above to learn why. Credit: NOAA PMEL.

If you’ve ever measured the pH of your swimming pool, you understand that a proper pH range is important for anyone going into water. You wouldn’t want to swim in your own pool if the pH was not in a safe range for you. It is no different for the plants and animals that make their homes in the oceans. Continue reading “pHretting over pH”

Carbonate: The Building Block of Marine Life

Seashells use calcium carbonate to build their shells. Photo Credit: Melissa Ward

Next time you are walking along a beach, pay attention to how many unique types of shells you see: scallops, gastropods (snails), oysters, pteropods, and many other marine organisms rely on shells for protection and housing. Just as humans build our homes from brick and wood, these marine organisms build their homes out of a chemical compound called calcium carbonate. Continue reading “Carbonate: The Building Block of Marine Life”

Tinker, Watch, Repeat

If you’ve read the title of this post, you already have some idea of what it takes to develop and assemble a novel scientific instrument. For the past week or so, my colleague and I have been taking ordinary parts you may find in a lab—tubes, pumps, bottles, a glass cell—and assembling them carefully to achieve a greater purpose. Continue reading “Tinker, Watch, Repeat”

Ring Around the Rosette: The Science of Seawater Sampling

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Taking CTD Samples offshore from Baja California Sur, Mexico. Photo credit: Melissa Ward

In the open ocean, water can be thousands of feet deep. When oceanographers need to test seawater from such depths, how do they get their samples? The most experienced divers can only go to a few hundred feet, and even then, a diver can only bring back as much seawater as he or she can carry.  Therefore, specialized equipment is needed in order to obtain samples from the deep ocean. A CTD rosette is often the equipment of choice for such a task. Continue reading “Ring Around the Rosette: The Science of Seawater Sampling”

Too much of a good thing: the CO2 story

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The CO2 in this picture is dramatized at ~1 billion times its actual size. Note: real CO2 doesn’t have eyes.

Scientists are trained to prefer being correct over being clear, and humor is discouraged in research journals, so you might imagine you’ve just stumbled onto the most boring imaginable blog outside of a live-tweeting of continental drift.  I’ll be trying to forget my training for the moment, however.  Continue reading “Too much of a good thing: the CO2 story”