Nina Bednarsek, UW Oceanography

Nina Bednarsek with Dick Feely

 

West Coast OA Cruise Mission Scientist

Bio: I started exploring and diving deep into ocean acidification as a grad student some seven years ago, during my first cruise in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica. At that time, as now, the subject of my scientific investigations were tiny shelled sea snails called pteropods. These beautiful elegant creatures are inexplicably connected to acidification because their shells start to dissolve when carbon dioxide makes seawater corrosive. My first findings of severely dissolved shells confirmed that this was due to absorption of human-generated CO2 from the atmosphere. That not only placed pteropods on the top of the list of early warning sentinel species for OA, it also gave me, the scientist, a momentum to explore more.  So I switched the Southern Ocean for the Pacific, and in 2013 started to work in the upwelling zone along the US West Coast–a natural laboratory for ocean acidification.

What I’m doing on this cruise: And here I am…on my second West Coast Ocean Acidification cruise, equipped with an experimental setup that was built with generous support from lots of colleagues at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle. Using this system, we are creating the conditions projected for the California Current System in the next decades, and looking at pteropod susceptibility and tolerance limits to the combined stressors of acidification and higher temperatures. Now we are just hoping for lots of pteropods and calm seas!