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”

Harmful Algal Blooms: Why do we care?

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Chlorophyll along the West Coast during July 2015–the largest Harmful Algal bloom on record. Chlorophyll represents both toxic and non-toxic species. Photo Credit: NOAAClimate.gov

By now, you’ve heard of harmful algal blooms wreaking havoc along the California Current system. But what are these algal blooms actually doing that is so harmful? Continue reading “Harmful Algal Blooms: Why do we care?”

Synergy in the Near-Shore

Three federal agencies partnered to sample this section of the Olympic coast on June 1. Image Credit: OCNMS
Three federal agencies partnered to sample this section of the Olympic coast on June 1. Image Credit: OCNMS (click for a larger view).

Early Wednesday morning, the NOAA Ship Ronald Brown reached Station 120, within spitting distance (for a ship) of Cape Flattery, the northwesternmost point of the continental United States. After collecting samples by starlight, the ship swung round and headed south, back towards the wild stretch of Washington coastline that is recognized for its extraordinary natural history by three federal designations – the Washington Islands National Wildlife Refuges, Olympic National Park (ONP) and Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary (OCNMS). Continue reading “Synergy in the Near-Shore”

Sampling the Columbia River Plume

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Ensign Lydia Ames captions our entry into the Columbia River. Photo Credit: Bill Nilsson

The Columbia River is particularly important to unraveling the dynamics of coastal ocean acidification in the Pacific Northwest because it brings waters with elevated temperatures and oxygen concentrations and lower salinities, pH values, and aragonite saturation states compared to open ocean waters into the coastal environment. Continue reading “Sampling the Columbia River Plume”

The Beginnings of Ocean Acidification Studies in Mexican Waters

The 2016 West Coast Ocean Acidification (WCOA) cruise is the fifth of its kind, and the research we are performing aboard the NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown has been over a decade in the making. It has been eleven years since NOAA PMEL scientists Dr. Richard Feely and Dr. Chris Sabine organized the first planning meeting in 2005 for the 2007 West Coast Ocean Acidification cruise. Continue reading “The Beginnings of Ocean Acidification Studies in Mexican Waters”

Oxygen, that thing we all need to breathe…

OxygenWe all do it subconsciously. Breathe in… Breathe out… We probably only really notice we are doing it when we get to the top of a flight of stairs, or when we go up in altitude and realize that the oxygen availability has changed, but we all know that oxygen is critical to life. Continue reading “Oxygen, that thing we all need to breathe…”

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”

Eyes in the Sky

[Alternative Title (with apologies to the late David Bowie): Space Oddity Oceanography]

Did you know that in addition to working in the field and laboratory, there are oceanographers that use satellites to study the ocean from space?

Satellite image of the WCOA2016 cruise off Baja California, Mexico (ship not to scale). Image credit: Joint Polar Satellite System
Satellite image of the WCOA2016 cruise off Baja California, Mexico (ship not to scale). Image credit: Joint Polar Satellite System

Satellites can provide information about regions of the ocean where direct measurements aren’t possible or regular, and help with the identification of global trends and seasonal changes in the surface ocean. From satellite information, scientists can analyze sea surface temperature, measure surface winds to support weather forecasts, determine sea surface salinity and measure how much sediment and plant life is in the water. Continue reading “Eyes in the Sky”

It’s called a test station for a very good reason…

Dolphins at sunset
Silver fish flash their greetings
Then we troubleshoot.

We left San Diego under nearly perfect conditions, with partly cloudy skies and lower winds than the previous few days.  We arrived at our test sampling station just about sunset, under the escort of our diminutive dolphin* guides.  Continue reading “It’s called a test station for a very good reason…”

A View from the East

Point Loma Naval Base San Diego; https://www.flickr.com/photos/kenlund/5143862373
Naval Base Point Loma from Cabrillo National Monument, Point Loma, San Diego, California. Photo: Ken Lund (Flickr Creative Commons)

We’re off! The NOAA Research Vessel Ronald H. Brown left the San Diego Naval Base this afternoon and started ‘heading for the border’… Past it actually; the first transect lies more than 500 miles to the south, off the west coast of Baja California, a region more famous for its wintering population of eastern Pacific gray whales than its carbonate chemistry.  Continue reading “A View from the East”