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Author: Kruti Desai

Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System launches new website

The Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System (PacIOOS) has launched a new website at http://www.pacioos.org. Its goal is to further PacIOOS’ mission to empower ocean users, decision-makers and stakeholders across the Pacific Islands with accurate and reliable coastal and ocean information, data and services.

The new website provides user-friendly tools and easy access to PacIOOS’ observations of waves, sea surface currents and water quality. Users can choose from a variety of formats to view and explore data, such as interactive graphs and map viewers. A large set of coastal, oceanic and atmospheric forecasts are also available for different parts of the U.S. Pacific Islands region, including forecasts of potential wave inundation, harbor surge, water temperature and wind speed.

PacIOOS is a Regional Association in support of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®).

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The deep ocean: plunging to new depths to discover the largest migration on Earth

The largest migration on Earth is very rarely seen by human eyes, yet it happens every day. Billions of marine creatures ascend from as far as 2km below the surface of the water to the upper reaches of the ocean at night, only to then float back down once the sun rises.

This huge movement of organisms – ranging from tiny cockatoo squids to microscopic crustaceans, shifting for food or favorable temperatures – was little known to science until relatively recently.

A new research mission is currently initiating a comprehensive health check of the deep oceans that future changes will be measured against. The consortium of scientists and divers, led by Nekton, is backed by XL Catlin, which has already funded a global analysis of shallow water coral reefs. The new mission is looking far deeper – onwards of 150m down, further than most research that is restricted by the limits of scuba divers.

The Nekton researchers are discovering a whole web of life that could be unknown to science as they attempt to broaden this knowledge. The Guardian joined the mission vessel Baseline Explorer in its survey off the coast of Bermuda, where various corals, sponges and sea slugs have been hauled up from the deep.

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Funding for Coastal Ocean Observing System

UMass Dartmouth Professor of Marine Science & Technology Dr. Wendell Brown has received a $131,643 award from NOAA’s Integrated Ocean Observing System office and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Association Coastal Ocean Observing System (MARACOOS) via Rutgers University to operate a pair of modern technologies to capture surface ocean current and deep ocean water property data. Over the next five years, one of the tasks of Brown and his Ocean Observation Laboratory (OCEANOL) team members, research associate Richard Arena and Research Assistant Kathryn Tremblay, is to maintain the five high-frequency radar sites in the Northeast sector the MARACOOS region.

The data from Cape Cod, Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, Block Island, and Long Island are being combined to produce hourly coastal ocean surface ‌current maps out to about 100 miles over the extent of the region. Brown’s team will also prepare and operate one of the MARACOOS ocean gliders – the UMass Dartmouth-owned underwater robot named Blue (after the whale). Ocean gliders collect a variety of water property data (including temperature, salinity, oxygen and plankton-related chlorophyll) by traversing from the ocean surface to the bottom and then back again along pre-programmed routes.

MARACOOS is a Regional Association in support of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®).

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VIMS assists in launch of NOAA buoy

Stakeholders with an interest in monitoring and preserving the health of Chesapeake Bay recently gathered at William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science to celebrate the launch of a NOAA data buoy that will help fill a long-standing gap in the Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System, or CBIBS.

CBIBS, a baywide network of 10 observation buoys that mark points along the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, merges cell phone and internet technology to record and transmit a wealth of real-time data, including wind speed, water and air temperature, wave height, salinity, dissolved oxygen, turbidity and chlorophyll levels.

The CBNERR program at VIMS contributes significantly to the local observing system, compiling a network of data buoys, platforms, and programs into a web interface known as the Virginia Estuarine and Coastal Observing System, or VECOS. Managing VECOS is VIMS Professor Ken Moore.

VECOS data from the Virginia portion of Chesapeake Bay are then combined with CBIBS data from both Virginia and Maryland. These bay data are further integrated into MARACOOS — the Mid-Atlantic Regional Association Coastal Ocean Observing System, which stretches from Cape Cod to Cape Hatteras — and then into the even broader U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System.

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New Alaska Ocean Acidification Network Addresses Changing Ocean Conditions

This week marks the launch of the Alaska Ocean Acidification Network, an initiative designed to expand the understanding of ocean acidification processes and consequences in Alaska, as well as potential adaptation and mitigation actions. The network is the fourth regional ocean acidification network in the US, and will help connect scientists and stakeholder communities, recommend regional priorities, share data, and determine best practices for monitoring.

Ocean acidification has become an increasing concern for Alaska. Scientists estimate that the ocean is 25% more acidic today than it was 300 years ago, largely due to increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) from fossil fuels and changes in land use. Almost half of the CO2 emitted remains in the atmosphere, with the land and ocean absorbing the rest. When the ocean absorbs CO2, its pH balance changes through a process called ocean acidification. Because cold water can absorb more CO2 than warm water, acidification can disproportionately impact coastal regions around Alaska.

Among the roles of the network is hosting a comprehensive website with resources for both researchers and the general public. The site includes information on monitoring projects around the state, current trends and forecasts, impacts to Alaska marine life, links to databases and journal articles, and a listing of experts and their specialties.

The network is coordinated by the Alaska Ocean Observing System (AOOS), with participation from government agencies, research institutions, non-profits, industry, and local communities.

AOOS is a Regional Association in support of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®).

For more coverage of this story, click here.