UNH ocean scientists get funds for continued coastal water monitoring

DURHAM — Scientists from the University of New Hampshire’s Ocean Process Analysis Laboratory (OPAL) have received funds from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as part of a five-year, $2 million-plus grant to continue work in the Gulf of Maine and New Hampshire’s Great Bay monitoring carbon dioxide (CO2) and the effects of ocean acidification on coastal ecosystems.

The work is a critical component of regionwide efforts by a host of scientists to monitor the health of coastal waters under changing environmental conditions. The funding is part of an award to the Northeastern Regional Association of Coastal Observing Systems (NERACOOS), which in addition to UNH includes the universities of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. NERACOOS, a regional component of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS), spans coastal waters from the Canadian Maritime Provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to Long Island Sound.

At UNH, lead scientist Joe Salisbury will oversee efforts to monitor CO2 and the effects of ocean acidification, sediment dynamics and nutrient loading on coastal ecosystems. The $270,764 award to UNH will support continued operation of the NOAA-UNH ocean acidification buoy as well as the Great Bay environmental monitoring buoy. “With the NERACOOS funding, UNH assets will continue to provide a vital link between the science, fisheries, and management communities during a decade in which we’ve observed considerable changes in the structure and function of commercially valuable marine ecosystems,” says Salisbury, a research assistant professor in OPAL.

For the past six years, UNH’s sentinel buoy has bobbed about in waters northeast of Appledore Island in the Gulf of Maine taking hourly readings of both atmospheric and oceanic CO2. It is one of just half a dozen such buoys nationwide making a crucial measurement that helps scientists know how much carbon the ocean is taking up globally as atmospheric CO2 levels continue to rise. More specifically, the Gulf of Maine buoy measurements are aimed at better understanding the role complex coastal waters play in the increasing acidification of the global ocean.

Fosters.com, 21 July 2012. Full article.

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