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Kon-Tiki2 expedition 2015-2016: scientific cruise report

The Kon-Tiki2 Expedition was partly an anthropogenic exploration and partly an interdisciplinary oceanic and atmospheric research expedition. As a research expedition it was unique for three reasons: 1) The type of vessel used, 2) the timing of the expedition, and 3) the geographical location. The scientific program was run onboard the ancient design balsa rafts, powered by solar power only, with almost no possibility of stopping the raft, during a year with the strongest El Niño recorded in human history, in the midst of the center of that El Niño, namely in the area between Peru, Easter Island and the Chilean mid-latitudinal coast.

The scientific expedition planned and organized as a cooperation between the NIVA and NTNU in Norway. It was divided in two legs: the transect from Peru to Easter island and from Easter Island until the expedition concluded with the organized evacuation of the rafts. Instruments were brought on board the rafts and procedures were specifically developed for this cruise to study 1) climate change and ocean acidification, 2) marine litter, 3) El Niño and operational weather forecasting and 4) marine life.

The rafts were built following the designs of archeological studies on an Ecuadorian maritime culture known as the Manteno. They were built in Peru, with help from volunteers from all over the world as well as from the national Peruvian Navy. Building efforts were delayed by logistic issues, but Leg 1 departed Callao on November 7th 2015 and reached the Easter Island as planned 6 weeks later, on December 19th 2015. After a change of crew and a full overhaul of the rafts and equipment in Easter Island, Leg 2 departed Easter Island January 6 and ended March 17 2016.

The crew was multinational, gender-mixed, synergetic and multidisciplinary experienced. Each raft on each leg had 7 members on board. Only four members were present during both legs. There was a one scientist on board on each leg representing either of the organizing institutions.

Both rafts were instrumented for research. Each had an electrical installation with capacity calculated according to the payload of instruments that would be operated from it. Wind was the main source of energy to transport the vessels while photovoltaic cells transformed solar into electric energy for the electronics onboard.

The sensor payloads can be classified into three categories: atmospheric, oceanographic and ecological. Optical sensors to measure light, together with physical sensors to measure atmospheric conditions were combined with crew observations to describe the meteorological situation in the raft. A combination of echosounders and cameras were used to describe the macrofauna biodiversity present around the rafts. DNA and Chlorophyll a filtering aimed to study the microdiversity. The physical parameters like temperature, salinity, pH, levels of carbon dioxide described the climatic conditions in the region were the cruise sailed. Finally, both conventional and state-of-the-art technology were used to observe macro and micro plastics in this remote area of the world oceans.

Currently, the material collected on the cruise is subject of analysis in different laboratories. Kon-Tiki2, due to its unique nature, has been the subject of interest to a wide range of audiences. In addition to the general scientific interest, the expedition has given a much louder voice to the oceans than any regular research expedition could have given. For instance, the expedition coincided with the Climate Summit in Paris in December 2015 (COP21), a coincidence that we utilized to its fullest. The outreach efforts of the expedition participants have raised awareness about the science as well as about the expeditions sponsors. Most importantly, it has promoted cultural awareness across many state borders.

The Kon-Tiki2 Expedition combined science with adventure and challenge. Its organization was not simple, however, the outcome is of highest value, both from a professional scientific point of view, for the originator and sponsors of the expedition idea and for each and every project participant.

Kon-Tiki2 aimed to double-down on Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon-Tiki voyage (1947) by sailing two rafts from South America to Polynesia and then back. No one has done this in modern history. Kon-Tiki2 was an unparalleled voyage of survival, science and exploration. Although one of the strongest El Niño ever recorded stopped us from sailing all the way to South America, Kon-Tiki2 substantiates the ancient Pacific pathway for both Polynesians and South Americans. We know both cultures had rafts. Polynesians probably used their superior double hulled canoe for exploration and rafts for migrations. Kon-tiki2 showed how Polynesians could have sailed to South America and back, and how South Americans could have done the same in the opposite direction.

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Fourth Report on Federally Funded Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring Activities

The ocean provides vital resources and services for sustaining humankind including food, recreation, transportation, energy, nutrient-cycling, and climate moderation. Through such resources and services, the ocean substantially contributes to the United States economy. Science is only beginning to indicate how changes in seawater chemistry due to ocean acidification may affect marine organisms and ecosystems and the resources and services they provide. But based on studies to date of acidification’s observed and projected impacts on a number of important classes of marine organisms, significant changes in marine ecosystems appear to be likely.

This document is the fourth biennial summary and progress report submitted under the Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring Act of 2009 (FOARAM Act, P.L. 111-11, Subtitle D). The FOARAM Act specifies that the Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology (SOST) under the National Science and Technology Council Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Sustainability shall transmit a biennial report to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology and the Committee on Natural Resources of the House of Representatives that includes:

1. A summary of Federally-funded ocean acidification research and monitoring activities, including the budget for each of these activities; and

2. An analysis of the progress made toward achieving the goals and priorities for the interagency research plan developed by the Subcommittee under section 12405 of the FORARAM Act.

The SOST’s Interagency Working Group on Ocean Acidification produced this report, which summarizes Federal agency activities related to ocean acidification for fiscal years (FY) 2014 and 2015. The report is organized into sections covering geographic regions. Within each region, information is organized by the thematic areas as outlined within the Strategic Plan for Federal Research and Monitoring of Ocean Acidification (Strategic Plan), and then by Federal agency. Some regions did not host activities for every thematic area, and an additional category called “Other ocean acidification research and monitoring activities” is used for items not adequately captured by the Strategic Plan’s themes.

The Appendix provides a summary of expenditure amounts for individual agencies’ ocean acidification research and monitoring activities. In the expenditures tables, activities are classified as either having a primary focus on ocean acidification or being contributing activities that were designed for other purposes but clearly provide information useful for understanding ocean acidification. In FY 2014, Federal agencies provided approximately $27 million (M) toward activities with a primary focus on ocean acidification and an additional $9M for contributing activities. In FY 2015, Federal funding was approximately $18M for primary activities and $9M for contributing activities. The funding decrease from FY 2014 to FY 2015 reflects the National Science Foundation’s front-funding approach to multi-year projects rather than a significant long-term reduction in ocean acidification investments. Primary and contributing activities included monitoring of ocean chemistry and biological impacts, research to understand species-specific and ecosystem responses to ocean acidification, biogeochemical and ecosystem modeling, technology development, assessment of socioeconomic impacts from ocean acidification, education and outreach activities, data management and integration, and other activities.

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New edition of the “OA-ICC Highlights”, October – December 2016

highlights-final-high-resolution-oct-dec-2016The new edition of the “OA-ICC Highlights” summarizes the the project’s main activities and achievements over the period October – December 2016. The information is structured around the OA-ICC three major areas of work: science, capacity building and communication. Links to the project’s main resources and an explanatory video on their use are also provided.

The “OA-ICC Highlights” is a quarterly newsletter and all previous editions can be viewed here.

Ocean acidification in Arctic Report Card


  • The waters of the Arctic Ocean are disproportionately prone to ocean acidification compared to the rest of the global ocean due to the intensity, duration and extent of natural and anthropogenic drivers.
  • Over the next 2-3 decades, it is likely that ocean acidification will continue to intensify, especially over the shallow Arctic shelves. The rapid rate of this change is likely to have detrimental effects on ecosystems that are already under pressure from rising temperatures and other climate-driven stressors.

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The West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Science Panel: Major Findings, Recommendations, and Actions

Global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions over the past two centuries have altered the chemistry of the world’s oceans, threatening the health of coastal ecosystems and industries that depend on the marine environment. This fundamental chemical alteration is known as ocean acidification (OA), a phenomenon driven by the oceans absorbing approximately one-third of atmospheric CO2 generated through human activities. Scientists initially observed the impacts of OA on calcifying marine organisms that were having difficulty forming their shells, but additional evidence now indicates that growth, survival and behavioral effects linked to OA extend throughout food webs, threatening coastal ecosystems, and marine-dependent industries and human communities (see Appendix A).

Although OA is a global phenomenon, emerging research indicates that, among coastal zones around the world, the West Coast of North America will face some of the earliest, most severe changes in ocean carbon chemistry. The threats posed by OA’s progression will be further compounded by other dimensions of global climate change, such as the intensification and expansion of low dissolved oxygen – or hypoxic – zones. In the coming decades, the impacts of ocean acidification and hypoxia (OAH), which are already being felt across West Coast systems, are projected to grow rapidly in intensity and extent. Even if atmospheric CO2 emissions are stabilized today, many of the ongoing chemical changes to the ocean are already “locked in” and will continue to occur for the next several decades. Given these challenges, decision-makers must act decisively and in concert now.

In an effort to develop the scientific foundation necessary for West Coast managers to take informed action, the California Ocean Protection Council in 2013 asked the California Ocean Science Trust to establish and coordinate a scientific advisory panel in collaboration with California’s ocean management counterparts in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. The resulting West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Science Panel, comprised of 20 leading scientific experts (see V. The Panelists, page 32), was charged with summarizing the current state of knowledge and developing scientific consensus about available management options to address OAH on the West Coast.

This document, “Major Findings, Recommendations, and Actions” of the Panel, summarizes the Panel’s work and presents Actions that can be taken now to address OAH. The appendices to this document contain a series of two-page synopses that provide more detail on many of the key concepts that are mentioned in the main body. In addition to this document, the Panel has produced a number of longer supporting documents intended for agency program managers and technical audiences (see VI. Additional Panel Products Supporting the “Major Findings,  Recommendations, and Actions,” page 36).

Continue reading ‘The West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Science Panel: Major Findings, Recommendations, and Actions’

New edition of the “OA-ICC Highlights”, April-June 2016

OA-ICC Highlights April-June 2016The new edition of the “OA-ICC Highlights” summarizes the the project’s main activities and achievements over the period April – June 2016. This issue centers on OA-ICC efforts within the framework of the 4th International Symposium on the Ocean in a High-CO2 World, held in Hobart, Australia, on 3-6 May 2016.

The “OA-ICC Highlights” is a quarterly newsletter and all previous editions can be viewed here.

The U.S. West Coast shellfish industry’s perception of and response to ocean acidification: Understanding an ocean stakeholder

The U.S. west coast (Washington, Oregon, and California) shellfish industry is estimated to directly employ 3,200 people and annually contribute more than $270 million to the region’s economy. This industry predominantly cultivates Pacific oysters, introduced from Japan to replace the native and over-harvested Olympia oyster. Ocean acidification (OA) has received worldwide attention from researchers, media, and the public as an urgent environmental and economic issue. Increasing amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere from fossil fuel combustion, land use change, and other human activities result in increased CO2 being absorbed by the ocean. OA makes it harder for coral, phytoplankton, shellfish, and other marine organisms to build their shells and skeletal structures. Shellfish larvae are especially sensitive to acidified waters during critical, early life-stage development. Ocean acidification is happening quickly, and this rapid pace of change gives marine ecosystems and coastal stakeholders less time to adapt.

This study focused on commercial shellfish growers and hatcheries in Washington, Oregon, and California, since they support the base of the extended commercial industry and are closely affected by outcomes of OA. The research objectives were to evaluate the shellfish industry’s experience with OA impacts, assess their self-reported understanding of OA, evaluate how experience with OA impacts and understanding influence level of concern, determine which data sources provide the most useful information to the industry, explore the potential for partnership between the industry and researchers, and investigate how the industry perceives adaptation to OA.

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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