Maine’s NSF EPSCoR SEANET award supports state of the art ocean acidification lab

Copy Of Oastory 080818 19Rising levels of carbon dioxide in the world’s oceans is increasing water pH, leading to ocean acidification (OA). Maine researchers as well as researchers nationwide are questioning the impact of OA on ocean waters, marine resources, and commercial industries. Maine is especially interested in these effects because the state is experiencing extreme environmental changes that may threaten its coastal economy.

Supported researchers and technicians from the Sustainable Ecological Aquaculture Network (SEANET) and University of Maine’s Aquaculture Research Institute’s (ARI) Orono facility designed and built the first state of the art Ocean Acidification Lab in Maine. The project was funded by Maine’s NSF EPSCoR SEANET Award.

“We looked at how each of the animals performed in the acidified and controlled conditions and what we found is that animals in the controlled environment had a higher Arrhenius break temperature, meaning they could handle [higher temperatures] more than those in the acidified environments.” – DR. HEATHER HAMLIN, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR AT ARI, LED THE FIRST RESEARCH PROJECT AT THE OA LAB

The lab was constructed by Neil Greenberg, Assistant director of Aquatic Operations at ARI and Robert Harrington, Research Associate at the Aqua Research Center. They constructed the lab based on basic ideas from other recirculating systems. However, coastal labs can pull water directly from the ocean into their systems— something that cannot be done in a landlocked facility. To address this, Greenberg and Harrington designed their tanks to reuse the same water continuously.

When researchers come to the lab, they can adjust the acidification in the tanks by changing the pH control settings. Due to the tanks larger size, researchers can study larger and older animals (e.g., lobsters or razor clams) instead of just larvae. So far, two research projects have been conducted using the new recirculating tanks.

EPSCoR/IDeA Foundation, Article.

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