Friday Harbor research apprenticeship on ocean acidification

Friday Harbor Research Apprenticeship on Ocean Acidification
Spring Quarter 2013 (15 units)
Lead Instructor: James Murray (UW, Ocean)
Additional Instructors: Evelyn Lessard (UW, Ocean), Bob Morris (UW, Ocean), Robin Kodner (WWU, UW, Ocean)

Pelagic mesocosms have a long history of application to a wide range of problems in marine and freshwater science. Recently mesocosm experiments to study the effect of elevated CO2 (ocean acidification) on biological community structure and interactions have been conducted at Bergen, Norway and Pohang, South Korea. These have been excellent examples interdisciplinary research.

We now have a new mesocosm experimental facility at the UW Friday Harbor Labs. The facility consists of nine mesocosm bags, each holding about 3,500 liters of coarsely filtered local seawater. Experimental conditions are done in triplicate. Initial CO2 levels are adjusted to approximate a control (present values) and elevated values as are expected for the future. Carbonate system parameters (DIC, alkalinity and pH), oxygen, nutrients, chlorophyll and additional chemical and biological parameters are followed with time. Two preliminary experiments were conducted in June 2011 and April 2012. The April 2012 experiment was conducted as part of a mini-research apprenticeship. It was judged a success. Difficulties that arose during the 2011 experiment were solved and an 18-day time series was conducted. The results have resulted in an abstract for the national AGU meeting (December 2012) and a paper for a major journal is in preparation. All of the apprenticeship students are co-authors.

We are now planning to conduct a major experiment in April 2013 as part of a full-research apprenticeship in Spring Quarter 2013. This experiment will include international collaborators from Bergen, Norway (Jorun Egge) and Pohang, South Korea (Kitack Lee). Students will have their own research projects supervised by James Murray (chemistry), Evelyn Lessard (zooplankton), Bob Morris (bacteria) and Robin Kodner (phytoplankton). Again we anticipate an 18-20 day experiment. Students will be involved in the daily sampling and their own specific measurements and analyses. Oral presentations and papers (methods, results and discussion) will be due for a FHL research symposium at the end of May. In addition there will be class time spend on lectures and literature discussions of the chemical and biological basics and results of previous mesocosm experiments, including the previous experiment at FHL in April 2012. There will be field trips to the impacted shellfish industry. Guest lectures will provide societal relevance.

This class will be an excellent opportunity to participate in interdisciplinary basic research with the societal goal of understanding the impacts of ocean acidification on the pelagic biological community of the Salish Sea. It will be an intense experience. Much like going on a research cruise in the ocean, but without the rocking boat. You will also get the experience of living at the Friday Harbor Labs. It’s a lot like going to summer camp!

For more information contact: Jim Murray, 413 OSB, 543-4730. Web site.

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