Natural cycles in the Gulf of Alaska accentuate ocean acidification

Natural cycles in the Gulf of Alaska accentuate ocean acidification
Dramatic clouds and Alaska’s southern coastline frame the Gulf of Alaska during a scientific cruise in summer 2017. Credit: Andrew McDonnell.

New research at the University of Alaska Fairbanks shows that the fluctuations of major wind and ocean circulation systems can temporarily accelerate or reverse the rate of ocean acidification in the Gulf of Alaska.

“We typically think of ocean acidification as this slow press onto the environment that gradually changes the carbon chemistry in the ocean,” explained Claudine Hauri, a researcher at the UAF International Arctic Research Center.

Instead, Hauri said, the research shows that the chemical conditions experienced by marine organisms can change on a daily and seasonal basis. This fluctuation occurs despite a long-term trend of ocean acidification connected to the steady rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. The new research also documents massive cycles that happen every five to 10 years.

“Chemical conditions will deteriorate for several years in a row in offshore areas, before stabilizing or even slightly improving again,” said co-author Andrew McDonnell from the UAF College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. “We don’t know exactly how organisms respond to that, but in general some organisms are sensitive to these types of changes in environmental conditions.”

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Modulation of ocean acidification by decadal climate variability in the Gulf of Alaska

Uptake of anthropogenic carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by the surface ocean is leading to global ocean acidification, but regional variations in ocean circulation and mixing can dampen or accelerate apparent acidification rates. Here we use a regional ocean model simulation for the years 1980 to 2013 and observational data to investigate how ocean fluctuations impact acidification rates in surface waters of the Gulf of Alaska. We find that large-scale atmospheric forcing influenced local winds and upwelling strength, which in turn affected ocean acidification rate. Specifically, variability in local wind stress curl depressed sea surface height in the subpolar gyre over decade-long intervals, which increased upwelling of nitrate- and dissolved inorganic carbon-rich waters and enhanced apparent ocean acidification rates. We define this sea surface height variability as the Northern Gulf of Alaska Oscillation and suggest that it can cause extreme acidification events that are detrimental to ecosystem health and fisheries.

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Increased CO2 relevant to future ocean acidification alleviates the sensitivity of a red macroalgae to solar ultraviolet irradiance by modulating the synergy between photosystems II and I

While intertidal macroalgae are exposed to drastic changes in solar photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) and ultraviolet radiation (UVR) during a diel cycle, and to ocean acidification (OA) associated with increasing CO2 levels, little is known about their photosynthetic performance under the combined influences of these drivers. In this work, we examined the photoprotective strategies controlling electron flow through photosystems II (PSII) and photosystem I (PSI) in response to solar radiation with or without UVR and an elevated CO2 concentration in the intertidal, commercially important, red macroalgae Pyropia (previously Porphyrayezoensis. By using chlorophyll fluorescence techniques, we found that high levels of PAR alone induced photoinhibition of the inter-photosystem electron transport carriers, as evidenced by the increase of chlorophyll fluorescence in both the J- and I-steps of Kautsky curves. In the presence of UVR, photoinduced inhibition was mainly identified in the O2-evolving complex (OEC) and PSII, as evidenced by a significant increase in the variable fluorescence at the K-step (Fk) of Kautsky curves relative to the amplitude of FJFo (Wk) and a decrease of the maximum quantum yield of PSII (Fv/Fm). Such inhibition appeared to ameliorate the function of downstream electron acceptors, protecting PSI from over-reduction. In turn, the stable PSI activity increased the efficiency of cyclic electron transport (CET) around PSI, dissipating excess energy and supplying ATP for CO2 assimilation. When the algal thalli were grown under increased CO2 and OA conditions, the CET activity became further enhanced, which maintained the OEC stability and thus markedly alleviating the UVR-induced photoinhibition. In conclusion, the well-established coordination between PSII and PSI endows P. yezoensis with a highly efficient photochemical performance in response to UVR, especially under the scenario of future increased CO2 levels and OA.

Continue reading ‘Increased CO2 relevant to future ocean acidification alleviates the sensitivity of a red macroalgae to solar ultraviolet irradiance by modulating the synergy between photosystems II and I’

Supply-controlled calcium carbonate dissolution decouples the seasonal dissolved oxygen and pH minima in Chesapeake Bay

Acidification can present a stress on organisms and habitats in estuaries in addition to hypoxia. Although oxygen and pH decreases are generally coupled due to aerobic respiration, pH dynamics may be more complex given the multiple modes of buffering in the carbonate system. We studied the seasonal cycle of dissolved oxygen (DO), pH, dissolved inorganic carbon, total alkalinity, and calcium ion (Ca2+) along the main channel of Chesapeake Bay from May to October in 2016. Contrary to the expected co-occurrence of seasonal DO and pH declines in subsurface water, we found that the pH decline ended in June while the DO decline continued until August in mid-Chesapeake Bay. We discovered that aerobic respiration was strong from May to August, but carbonate dissolution was minor in May and June and became substantial in August, which buffered further pH declines and caused the seasonal DO and pH minima mismatch. The rate of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) dissolution was not primarily controlled by the saturation state in bottom water, but was instead likely controlled by the supply of CaCO3 particles. The seasonal variability of Ca2+ addition in the mid-bay was connected to Ca2+ removal in the upper bay, and the timing of high carbonate dissolution coincided with peak seasonal biomass of upper Bay submerged aquatic vegetation. This study suggests a mechanism for a novel decoupling of DO and pH in estuarine waters associated with CaCO3, but future studies are needed to fully investigate the seasonality of physical transport and cycling of CaCO3.

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Postdoctoral researcher in marine community ecology – marine functional diversity

Deadline for selection of applicants: 22 October 2022

Start date: January-February 2022

Duration: 24 months

Contacts: Núria Teixidó ( and Steeve Comeau (

This position will be located at the Laboratoire d’Océanographie de Villefranche (LOV), Villefranche-sur-mer, France. The LOV is a leading French oceanographic institution dedicated to marine science research. It is a joint research unit of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and Sorbonne Université. It is internationally renowned in the fields of biogeochemistry, physical oceanography, marine optics, zoo- and phytoplankton ecology/physiology and microbial ecology.


The research project 4Oceans funded by “Make Our Planet Great Again” program invites applications for a Postdoctoral Researcher position for 2 years. The research project 4Oceans seeks to investigate the physiological, ecological and adaptive responses of marine organisms to environmental change (i.e. ocean warming and ocean acidification) in the Mediterranean Sea.

The main research theme prioritized under this call is: Functional biodiversity, resilience and ecosystem shifts of benthic communities to climate change and ocean acidification.

4Oceans takes advantage of two “natural laboratories” to study global environmental change effects:

  • 1) natural CO2 vents, which mimic the effects of ocean acidification on entire ecosystem structure, function and interactions over long time scales;
  • 2) highly variable seasonal temperatures and extreme ocean warming events, known as marine heatwaves. For more information on the project see


We seek an enterprising Postdoctoral Researcher capable of working in diverse settings, and as part of interdisciplinary and international team. The Postdoc will lead the quantitative ecological research within the broader project 4Oceans, and will work with team members to integrate oceanographic data and ecological surveys in synthetic and statistical analyses. The main research focus for this Postdoctoral position will be on functional biodiversity and functional traits of marine benthic species and their links with ecosystem functioning under global climate change (warming and ocean acidification). This postdoctoral position will combine natural surveys and experimentation (ecology and oceanography), synthesis of data (meta-analyses) and statistical approaches. Statistical analysis and modeling, data visualization and R proficiency programming skills are required. Proficiency in written and spoken English is also required. Other ideal skills include a high degree of independence and leadership, experience in designing and conducting field ecological experiments, scuba diving experience, knowledge of marine algae and invertebrate biology, willingness to use molecular tools, willingness to spend periods of time at field locations, and ability to work in an interdisciplinary, international research group.

The Postdoctoral Researcher will:

  1. Design and conduct field surveys and possibly laboratory experiments investigating biological responses to environmental change.
  2. Analyze environmental (time-series of temperature, photosynthetically active radiation, high-resolution pH measurements, and carbonate chemistry parameters), and ecological data, report and communicate results in publications and presentations;
  3. Mentor graduate and undergraduate students involved in the project;
  4. Contribute to project reports and team publications.

The Postdoctoral Researcher will be supervised by Dr. Nuria Teixidó and Dr. Steeve Comeau and will interact extensively with the whole interdisciplinary team at the LOV and international network of collaborators.

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The 26th International Symposium on Polar Sciences – Responding to climate crisis: contributions of Polar sciences and technology

Date: 27-29 September 2021

Location: Online

Program at a glance

Poster session


Climate change is the greatest crisis of our times, as it brings devastating consequences to our planet. We have witnessed many communities suffering from heatwave, drought and wildfire, while others suffered heavy rainfall, typhoon and flood. We are facing extreme events at an unprecedented rate, and they require our immediate and collective attention.

It is the mission of science to continue the observation, and provide scientific understanding and prediction upon which we can implement mitigation efforts. Polar sciences are crucial in the sense that these regions are especially sensitive to climate change, which adds to the instability of the earth system. Warming and cooling patterns are amplified, and the melting of ice sheets causes catastrophic sea level rises.

During this symposium, we will discuss the findings in polar sciences that are closely linked to climate change, and the cutting-edge technologies that enable more efficient and sustainable monitoring under harsh environments, while shedding new light on the unseen.

The symposium aims to bring together polar scientists and engineers with diverse backgrounds to share their research findings and explore further research opportunities at the international level.

With “Responding to Climate Crisis” as its overarching theme, ISPS2021 invites researchers to discuss how polar science and technology can contribute to our understanding of climate change.

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Reaching new depths: ocean acidification research in the Gulf of Mexico

Reaching new depths: ocean acidification research in the Gulf of Mexico

NOAA and the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies (CIMAS) at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science will conduct their most comprehensive ocean acidification sampling of the Gulf of Mexico yet. 25 scientists and graduate students conducting research departed September 13th, for the 4th Gulf of Mexico Ecosystems and Carbon Cruise (GOMECC-4) on the NOAA ship Ronald H. Brown. During their 39 days at sea they will be measuring the ocean carbonate chemistry throughout the Gulf’s water column to assess the extent of ocean acidification due to the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that is, in part, absorbed by our ocean. They will be using innovative tools to study the base of the marine food web, and exploring the impact of ocean acidification on recreation and fisheries in this region, as well as a possible link to harmful algal blooms. They will also be looking back in time to understand the course of ocean acidification in this area by studying sediments of the ocean floor.

Ocean acidification is occurring because our ocean is absorbing carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels that power our homes and cars. This leads to a fundamental change in ocean chemistry and increase in acidity which can impact marine life, and ultimately human communities connected to a healthy ocean. Harmful algal blooms (HABs) can negatively impact the health of the Gulf and create “red tides” in Florida which release a toxin that causes respiratory illness in humans. These blooms can also produce toxins that cause closures to both commercial and recreational harvesting of shellfish and fish. While these events are most common in southwest Florida, they do occur throughout the Gulf.

“This cruise will allow us to see how ocean acidification has evolved over the last decade in the Gulf of Mexico, which regions are acidifying faster than others, and how those are tied to impacts on marine life and coastal resources” says Leticia Barbero, PhD, Chief Scientist and CIMAS Chemical Oceanographer at NOAA.

Coastal acidification describes how these longer term changes in our ocean interact with changes in coastal waters like water quality. GCAN plays an important role in communicating potential impacts to community members and helping them understand how they can adapt and mitigate.

Barbero is collaborating with colleagues from CIMAS, NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML), the National Park Service (NPS), and many universities in the US and Mexico to answer these important questions. Researchers on board will be working around the clock to advance our understanding of ocean acidification, its effects on marine life and how those could ripple into human communities along the Gulf Coast.

Ocean acidification isn’t limited to US waters, but is a global change . What is learned on board the R/V Ronald H. Brown in the Gulf of Mexico will contribute to efforts to understand this ocean change around the world. Barbero and her colleagues are part of the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network (GOA-ON), which is working to expand our understanding of ocean acidification around the globe, how marine life and ecosystems are responding to this change and ultimately, use this data and information collected to predict changes and allow human communities to adapt and respond.


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Notes on carbon dioxide in global warming, acidified oceans, and weathered rocks

Oil refinery and chemical plant, Ashland, Kentucky. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

Like CO2 (carbon dioxide), H2O (water vapor) is a strongly heteropolar molecule — having one end with a positive electrical charge, and another end with a negative electrical charge — and absorbs outgoing Infrared Radiation (IR) from Earth’s surface, thus capturing heat in the atmosphere. Homopolar molecules like N2 (nitrogen) and O2 (oxygen) are transparent to IR. Inelastic molecular collisions redistribute that heat (as kinetic energy) to other atmospheric molecules (N2, O2, mainly) and atoms (Ar, He, trace components).

Most of Earth’s surface heat eventually diffuses into the oceans. Heat flows along the heat gradient in the negative direction from warmer air to colder water. The heat capacity (storage ability) of the oceans is IMMENSE (this is where ‘global warming’ ends up), and their heat content takes centuries to diffuse into a stable stratified distribution, rearranged by thermo-haline currents (a solar forcing effect) and by geometry (oceans as a spherical shell with warm equator and cold poles, so ocean heat diffuses poleward).

The fundamental problem of global warming is the ‘excess’ capture of outgoing IR (infrared radiation), reducing the rejection of Earth heat (originally delivered by incoming LIGHT radiation) into space: causing an imbalance between incoming energy (in the form of light to which atmospheric molecules are almost completely transparent) and outgoing energy (IR, to which heteropolar molecules, like CO2, H2O, CH4, NOx, are all quite opaque — absorbing).

Continue reading ‘Notes on carbon dioxide in global warming, acidified oceans, and weathered rocks’

Seasonal cycle of surface ocean pCO2 and pH in the northern Indian Ocean and their controlling factors


  • The maxima of seasonal amplitudes of pCO2 and pH occur during April-May and August-September for both the basins.
  • The western Arabian Sea has the largest seasonal variance of pCO2.
  • The contribution of ALK and S is complementary with each other in inducing seasonal variances of pCO2 and pH in the southeastern Arabian Sea.
  • This study highlights the hotspots of pCO2 and pH in the northern Indian Ocean, where observational efforts to monitor pCO2 and pH become an essential requirement.


This paper examines the seasonal variability of surface ocean pCO2 and pH in the northern Indian Ocean. It aims to identify their controlling factors using a high-resolution, regional ocean-ecosystem model simulation and available surface ocean carbon observations. The seasonal variability of pCO2 and pH of the northern Indian Ocean is attributed to the changes in surface temperature (T), dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), total alkalinity (ALK), and salinity (S). The western Arabian Sea has an enormous seasonal variance of pCO2 due to coastal upwelling dynamics. In contrast, the seasonal variance of pCO2 in the Bay of Bengal is governed by the upper ocean mixed layer dynamics, albeit with smaller amplitudes. The contribution of T (DIC) in the seasonal variance of pCO2 and pH at the western Arabian Sea is ±90 (∓100) μatm and ±0.18 (∓0.20) pH units, respectively. The contribution of ALK and S is complementary to each other in inducing seasonal variances of pCO2 and pH in the southeastern Arabian Sea with a magnitude of ±5∼10 μatm and ±0.02 pH units, respectively. In the northern Bay of Bengal, salinity plays a significant role in controlling seasonal variability of pCO2 and pH with amplitudes of roughly ± 20 µatm and ±0.18 pH units, respectively, along the pathways of freshwater spreading. The maxima of seasonal amplitudes of pCO2 and pH occur during April-May and August-September for both basins. This study highlights the hotspots of pCO2 and pH in the northern Indian Ocean, where observational efforts to monitor pCO2 and pH become an essential requirement.

Continue reading ‘Seasonal cycle of surface ocean pCO2 and pH in the northern Indian Ocean and their controlling factors’

Impact of dust addition on Mediterranean plankton communities under present and future conditions of pH and temperature: an experimental overview (update)

In low-nutrient low-chlorophyll areas, such as the Mediterranean Sea, atmospheric fluxes represent a considerable external source of nutrients likely supporting primary production, especially during periods of stratification. These areas are expected to expand in the future due to lower nutrient supply from sub-surface waters caused by climate-driven enhanced stratification, likely further increasing the role of atmospheric deposition as a source of new nutrients to surface waters. Whether plankton communities will react differently to dust deposition in a warmer and acidified environment remains; however, an open question. The potential impact of dust deposition both in present and future climate conditions was investigated in three perturbation experiments in the open Mediterranean Sea. Climate reactors (300 L) were filled with surface water collected in the Tyrrhenian Sea, Ionian Sea and in the Algerian basin during a cruise conducted in the frame of the PEACETIME project in May–June 2017. The experiments comprised two unmodified control tanks, two tanks enriched with a Saharan dust analogue and two tanks enriched with the dust analogue and maintained under warmer (+3 C) and acidified (−0.3 pH unit) conditions. Samples for the analysis of an extensive number of biogeochemical parameters and processes were taken over the duration (3–4 d) of the experiments. Dust addition led to a rapid release of nitrate and phosphate, however, nitrate inputs were much higher than phosphate. Our results showed that the impacts of Saharan dust deposition in three different basins of the open northwestern Mediterranean Sea are at least as strong as those observed previously, all performed in coastal waters. The effects of dust deposition on biological stocks were different for the three investigated stations and could not be attributed to differences in their degree of oligotrophy but rather to the initial metabolic state of the community. Ocean acidification and warming did not drastically modify the composition of the autotrophic assemblage, with all groups positively impacted by warming and acidification. Although autotrophic biomass was more positively impacted than heterotrophic biomass under future environmental conditions, a stronger impact of warming and acidification on mineralization processes suggests a decreased capacity of Mediterranean surface plankton communities to sequester atmospheric CO2 following the deposition of atmospheric particles.

Continue reading ‘Impact of dust addition on Mediterranean plankton communities under present and future conditions of pH and temperature: an experimental overview (update)’

Role of river discharge and warming on ocean acidification and pCO2 levels in the Bay of Bengal

Shifts in surface ocean pCO2 and pH are important controls governing global climate. Based on the linear relationship of observed surface pH and pCO2 with sea surface temperature (SST), sea surface salinity (SSS) and Chlorophyll-a (Chl-a) multiple linear regression equations were developed. Based on remote sensing SST, Chl-a and model-derived SSS, pH and pCO2 data were derived from 1998 to 2015. Overall warming of BoB is noticed at the rate of 0.004° to 0.03 °C/y whereas cooling is found in the northwestern BoB during winter and spring seasons associated with an increase in atmospheric dust. Decrease in SSS is noticed during all seasons due to melting of Himalayan ice cover associated with increase in fresh water flux due to increase in atmospheric temperature. Increase in pH is observed in the eastern and southern Bay during all seasons associating with warming and decrease in salinity. In contrast, decrease in pH (−0.001 y−1) and pCO2 increase (+0.1 to +0.7 µatm y−1) is noticed in the western and head Bay during winter and spring seasons due to deposition of atmospheric pollutants. This study suggests that increase in freshwater input due to melting of Himalayan ice cover and deposition of atmospheric pollutants are dominant controlling factors on surface ocean pH and pCO2 in the BoB between 1998 and 2015 and this region is acting as a stronger sink for the atmospheric CO2 in the present than that in the past two decades. The global coastal regions are significantly influenced by river discharge and atmospheric deposition of pollutants and they are not part of the global models leading to ill-reproduction of seasonal variability in pH and pCO2. Inclusion of these processes may improve prediction of pH and pCO2 in the regions heavily influenced by discharge/deposition from land and atmosphere.

Continue reading ‘Role of river discharge and warming on ocean acidification and pCO2 levels in the Bay of Bengal’

Advances in ocean acidification

Ocean acidification is the ongoing decrease in the pH of the Earth’s oceans, caused by the uptake of carbon dioxide (CO2 from the atmosphere. The main cause of ocean acidification is the burning of fossil fuels. Seawater is slightly basic (meaning pH > 7), and ocean acidification involves a shift towards pH-neutral conditions rather than a transition to acidic conditions (pH < 7). The issue of ocean acidification is the decreased production of the shells of shellfish and other aquatic life with calcium carbonate shells. The calcium carbonate shells can not reproduce under high saturated acidotic waters. An estimated 30–40% of the carbon dioxide from human activity released into the atmosphere dissolves into oceans, rivers and lakes. Some of it reacts with the water to form carbonic acid. Some of the resulting carbonic acid molecules dissociate into a bicarbonate ion and a hydrogen ion, thus increasing ocean acidity (H+ ion concentration). Between 1751 and 1996, surface ocean pH is estimated to have decreased from approximately 8.25 to 8.14, representing an increase of almost 30% in H+ ion concentration in the world’s oceans. Earth System Models project that, by around 2008, ocean acidity exceeded historical analoguesand, in combination with other ocean biogeochemical changes, could undermine the functioning of marine ecosystems and disrupt the provision of many goods and services associated with the ocean beginning as early as 2100.

In the present book, fifteen typical literatures about ocean acidification published on international authoritative journals were selected to introduce the worldwide newest progress, which contains reviews or original researches on ocean acidification. We hope this book can demonstrate advances in ocean acidification as well as give references to the researchers, students and other related people.

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For copepods, no free lunch in climate change

Challenges for this small marine animal have ripple effects

Copepods offer valuable insights into how ocean species adapt to climate change.
Copepods offer valuable insights into how ocean species adapt to climate change.

The world’s oceans are becoming increasingly stressful places for marine life, and scientists are working to understand what that means for the future. From rising temperatures to ocean acidification to changes in currents, the challenges are multifaceted, making projections difficult.

Copepods are small marine animals that are abundant, widely dispersed and serve as major components of the ocean’s food web. U.S. National Science Foundation-funded researchers at the University of Connecticut and other institutions have found that a species of copepod called  Acartia tonsa  can cope with climate change, but at a price. The researchers’ results were published in  Nature Climate Change.

“We have this problem of climate change and in the ocean, it is a multi-dimensional problem because it’s not just the warming, the ocean is becoming more acidic where pH is going down as we pump more CO2, into the atmosphere,” says Hans Dam, a University of Connecticut marine scientist. “Organisms need to cope, they are under more stress, and things are happening very fast.”

The study looks at adaptation across 25 copepod generations and considers both ocean warming and acidification, something that few studies have done.

The researchers looked at fitness, or the ability of a population to reproduce itself in one generation, and how fitness would change through generations. The first generation suffered extreme reductions of more than 50% of the population, says Dam. By the third generation, the population seemed to have mostly recovered. However, by the 12th generation, the researchers began to see declines again.

“The key question is how the copepod of today will fare a hundred or a thousand years from now,” says Cynthia Suchman, a program director in NSF’s Division of Ocean Sciences. “This team has designed a study that combines ecology and evolution to get closer to understanding the future of ocean biota.”

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Ocean Sciences Meeting (OSM) 2022

Date: 27 February – 4 March 2022

Location: Honolulu, HI, USA

Submission site

Scientific Sessions

Registration rates

Balance is a Key

This year’s theme emphasizes the importance of working together.

“Come Together and Connect,” focuses on strengthening the ocean sciences community through discussing both basic and applied research while making scientific and social connections.

Co-sponsored by the American Geophysical Union (AGU), the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO), and The Oceanography Society (TOS), Ocean Sciences Meeting (OSM) is the global leader in ocean sciences conferences. We are creating a meeting and networking  environment that provides opportunities for ocean scientists, from those doing basic research to those working on solutions for the ocean we want, to present and share knowledge as well as network and address emerging topics in ocean sciences.

While many participants will physically gather in Honolulu, the Program Committee anticipates a large global gathering to virtually attend online programming and events. The tradition of outstanding presentations and knowledge-sharing, through plenary speakers, in oral sessions, and in serendipitous conversations, will continue during OSM 2022.

Balance is a key to OSM 2022 – enabling as many people to meet as possible across media, disseminating scientific knowledge, and creating personal connections all while considering the ocean and planet we want for the future.

Be a part of this special meeting that will set standards for future OSM events.

Key Dates

March 2021
Call for Session Proposals Posted

May 2021
Session Proposal Deadline

July 2021
Session Proposers Notified

August 2021
Call for Abstracts and Auxiliary Events Posted

September 2021
Registration Opens

29 September 2021
Abstract, Town Hall and Auxiliary Event Submission Deadline (abstract submission)

November 2021
Presenters Notified of Acceptance
Travel Grant Recipients Notified
Program Schedule Posted

27 February 2022
OSM 2022 Begins

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Grant opportunity: integrated research on coastal and ocean acidification and harmful algal blooms(NOAA-NOS-NCCOS-2022-2006992)

Deadline for full application: 19 January 2022

View announcement here: View Opportunity | GRANTS.GOV

The purpose of this document is to advise the public that NOAA/NOS/National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS)/Competitive Research Program (CRP) and the NOAA Ocean Acidification Program (OAP) are soliciting proposals for research that must address the interaction between coastal and ocean acidification and harmful algal blooms.

Funding is contingent upon the availability of Fiscal Year 2022 Federal appropriations. It is anticipated that up to approximately $1,500,000 may be available in Fiscal Year 2022 for the first year for all projects combined. If funds become available for this program, 3-5 targeted projects are expected to be funded at the level of $300,00 to $500,000 per year per proposal (including ship time).

Projects are expected not to exceed 3 years in duration. NCCOS/CRP will not accept any proposals submitted with an annual budget that is greater than $500,000 for any year. It is anticipated that projects funded under this announcement will have a September 1, 2022 start date.

Continue reading ‘Grant opportunity: integrated research on coastal and ocean acidification and harmful algal blooms(NOAA-NOS-NCCOS-2022-2006992)’

What Mainers can learn from the Arctic

As I sit on an outcrop watching the moon rise above the Alaskan skyline and mighty Taku Glacier, I can’t help but wonder how many years into the future this great ice mass will remain. Recent research suggests up to 60% of Taku will be gone in the next century if our climate continues on its current warming trajectory. These are humbling numbers given Taku reaches close to a mile deep and represents one of the thickest mountain glaciers on Earth. While I ponder, college students participating in the Juneau Icefield Research Program (JIRP) scurry around the rocks in front of me to capture different photos of the rising moon and setting sun over the surrounding terrain. I capture a few shots of these wide-eyed young adults standing in awe, speechless from the powerful scene. 

students watching Glacier Bay sunset
JIRP students watch the sunset over Juneau, Alaska, and Glacier Bay National Park off in the distance (Photo by Seth Campbell)

Of the 60 students, staff, and faculty I led this year to the icefield to conduct research, learn about Polar Earth systems, and ultimately disseminate their science knowledge back to their own communities, 10 were from Maine. One of those was a young coastal Maine fisherman, Maine business owner, and engineering student. Three others were Earth & Climate science students. One recently moved to Down East Maine and had a mixed interest in political science, science policy, and Earth sciences. Myself? I’m a climber, paddler, fisherman, hunter, trapper, glaciologist, and climate scientist. We all have different backgrounds but certainly have at least one similarity: we are all concerned about the future environment of Maine and beyond.  

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How have reductions in global carbon dioxide emissions during the COVID-19 pandemic influenced aquatic ecosystems through ocean acidification?

The effects from the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in the largest annual decrease in global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions based on countries with the highest industrial output, including China, the United States, India, and the European Union, as well as the global oil sector [12]. With lockdowns and stay-at-home orders being implemented in the vast majority of the world, the overall production decreased by 8.8% in the first half of 2020 alone [12].

In regards to these emissions, the anthropogenic greenhouse effect – the gradual, incessant warming of the Earth’s surface due to human-related greenhouse gas emissions, including land use change and fossil fuel burning – is oftentimes the first pertinent concern [6]. However, ocean acidification is also a relevant, yet overlooked secondary concern that is directly related to atmospheric CO2 levels. Oceans are a crucial element in offsetting the anthropogenic greenhouse effect; they are natural carbon sinks, or reservoirs, that uptake CO2 in the form of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), enable its conversion to dissolved organic carbon (DOC) through chemical processes, and sequester this carbon to the deep ocean where it can persist for thousands of years out of Earth’s atmosphere [1].

Increased anthropogenic CO2 results in increased pressure placed on oceans to absorb more atmospheric CO2 [1]. This ultimately favours a decrease in carbonate ions and a net increase in protons, which decreases the pH of oceans, making them more acidic [8]. Acidifying oceans have cascading effects on aquatic organisms and, eventually as the effects reach higher trophic levels, humans.

Although it is known that CO2 emissions have been altered during the global pandemic,the effects in regards to ocean acidification are largely understudied. This paper evaluates how the effects from COVID-19 have changed ocean acidification trends and, consequently, the impact on aquatic ecosystems. Future approaches and limitations in monitoring ocean acidification and aquatic ecosystem health are also discussed.

Continue reading ‘How have reductions in global carbon dioxide emissions during the COVID-19 pandemic influenced aquatic ecosystems through ocean acidification?’

Causes of increased dissolved inorganic carbon in the subsurface layers in the western shelfbreak and high latitude basin in the Arctic Pacific Sector

The expansion of Dissolved Inorganic Carbon (DIC)-rich water carried by the Pacific inflow creates a DIC maximum layer and exerts important influences on ocean acidification in the subsurface Arctic Ocean. This study analyzed shifts in the DIC distribution of the subsurface Arctic Ocean during 1998–2015 through hindcast simulation using a three-dimensional ocean-sea ice-biogeochemical model. For this purpose, the study was divided into two time periods (1998–2007 and 2008–2015). The results showed that the lower boundary layer of the Pacific Winter Water (PWW), defined as an isopycnal of 27 kg/m3, became deeper by ~50 m in the central Canada Basin and expanded northward during 2008–2015 relative to 1998–2007. Accordingly, the subsurface DIC maximum layer deepened and expanded northwards into the Makarov Basin at high latitudes around 85°N. During 2008–2015, DIC concentrations, averaged over a 50–250 m water column, increased significantly in the Chukchi-East Siberian Shelfbreak and Makarov Basin. The DIC increase over the shelfbreak is mainly attributable to increased local biological degradation and the transportation of DIC-rich water from the Chukchi Shelf through Barrow Canyon. Estimates of the DIC budget indicated that advection controlled the increase in DIC content in the Makarov Basin during 2008–2015. This is attributed to the shift of the ocean circulation pattern, in which the ocean current along the Chukchi-East Siberian Slope to the Makarov Basin became stronger during 2008–2015, promoting the transport of DIC-rich Pacific Water into the Makarov Basin.

Continue reading ‘Causes of increased dissolved inorganic carbon in the subsurface layers in the western shelfbreak and high latitude basin in the Arctic Pacific Sector’

Effects of diel pCO₂ fluctuations on coral reef fishes now and into the future

The uptake of anthropogenic carbon dioxide from the atmosphere has increased the partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2) and decreased the pH of the oceans, termed ocean acidification (OA). The majority of the models predicting future OA conditions are based on the open ocean, where pCO2 and pH are relatively stable. However, pCO2 fluctuates at a variety of temporal scales in coastal ecosystems. Coral reefs possess a daily cycle, where the pCO2 is elevated at night and lower during the day, mainly due to the photosynthesis, respiration, and calcification cycle of benthic reef organisms. Moreover, the magnitude of pCO2 fluctuations is projected to increase in the future as OA advances. To date, most studies on the effects of elevated pCO2 on reef fishes have used stable CO2 treatments, which may not accurately represent physiological responses under predicted future fluctuation in pCO2. In this thesis, I aim to examine fluctuations of pCO2 on coral reefs and how fishes will be affected in the future by these conditions.

While coral reef pCO2 is known to fluctuate on a daily cycle, much less is known about pCO2 variation at the microhabitat scale that animals occupy. Therefore, in Chapter 2 I investigate the pH/pCO2 variability of three different reefs and three coral reef microhabitats (hard coral, soft coral, and sand). I found typical diel variation in pCO2 associated with photosynthesis and respiration cycles. These fluctuations differed between reefs more than between the microhabitats within a reef. The variation was likely influenced by water flow and wind speed. These results fall within the normal range of coral reef diel variation and suggest that it is important to consider physical and hydrodynamic factors when projecting future pCO2 variation. Data from Chapter 2 on the current-day natural fluctuations of pCO2 in the environment can be used to inform ecologically relevant pCO2 treatments to measure how fishes and other coral reef organisms will be affected by OA in the future.

Elevated pCO2 has the potential to negatively impact fishes due to the increased costs of acid-base regulation. In Chapter 3, I explored the effects of an 8 h exposure to one of four pCO2 treatments, two stable (ambient and stable elevated) or two fluctuating levels of pCO2 (increasing, and decreasing) on two species of damselfishes, Acanthochromis polyacanthus and Amblyglyphidodon curacao. Acanthochromis polyacanthus required more energy upon exposure to both stable pCO2 treatments during the 8 h trial compared to fish exposed to the fluctuating pCO2 treatments. However, there was no effect of pCO2 treatment on the swimming or oxygen uptake rates of A. curacao. This suggests that, for some species of coral reef fishes, performing under fluctuating pCO2 conditions may be less energetically-costly than performing under stable pCO2 conditions. Moreover, these results highlight the importance of ecologically relevant pCO2 treatments when testing how fishes will perform in future OA conditions.

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Climate change impacts, vulnerability, and mitigation in the Indian Ocean region: policy suggestions

Climate Change is considered as the mother of many global concerns in the twenty-first century and is a significant driver of biodiversity loss leading to major threats to species, ecosystems, and people’s livelihood around the globe, in general, and the Indian Ocean in particular. Warming of oceans and ocean acidification can prove critical and challenging for the present and future generations. Oceans are one major realm that is impacted due to the natural climatic fluctuations and other anthropomorphic activities. The capacity of oceans to absorb carbon dioxide, a significant ecosystem service, is declining over time continuously with increasing carbon emissions. Thus, a reduction in greenhouse gases calls for alternate energy resources that are more secure, efficient, and environmental friendly. Moreover, the scenario of climate change vulnerabilities in developing countries is studied extensively. The unanimous call by a great majority of the scientific community is for a drastic reduction in greenhouse gasses particularly CO2 as well as significant measures aiming at conservation of resources. The Indian Ocean climatic conditions and its variations are studied to arrive at climate mitigation measures. It also attempts to deliver constructive recommendations toward policy development. A good policy should account for alternative risk reduction strategies-mitigation, adaptation, and insurance.

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