UW Today

May 10, 2016

UW part of NOAA-led cruise to study West Coast ocean acidification

News and Information

University of Washington students, faculty and staff are part of the fifth West Coast Ocean Acidification Cruise that will investigate changes to ocean chemistry from Baja to British Columbia. The ship left Thursday from San Diego to begin sampling on Mexico’s northern coast. It will stop May 21 at San Francisco’s Exploratorium Pier, then travel as far as northern Vancouver Island before ending in Seattle in early June.

colored map shwoing the 16 stops

The cruise will measure ocean acidification from Mexico to Canada. The map shows the 16 locations where data will be collected.NOAA

Follow along with the blog, which is being coordinated from shore by Meg Chadsey, ocean acidification specialist with UW-based Washington Sea Grant.

The team aboard the Research Vessel Ronald H. Brown includes 36 scientists from the UW, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and other institutions in the U.S., Mexico, Canada and Europe. Chief scientists are Simone Alin for the first leg, and Richard Feely for the second leg, both NOAA scientists who hold affiliate faculty appointments in the UW School of Oceanography.

“The acidity of West Coast water is anticipated to continue to accelerate in lockstep with rising atmospheric carbon dioxide emissions,” Feely said in a NOAA announcement about the cruise.

The voyage will include 16 stops to sample acidity, temperature, oxygen and chlorophyll, an indication of marine plant growth. The researchers will also use nets to sample ocean plants and animals to learn how they are being affected by acidifying seawater.

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More on ocean acidification and related UW research.

UW postdoctoral researcher Nina Bednaršek is collecting samples for her research on sea snails, or pteropods. UW graduate student Emma Hodgson, in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, is aboard for the first leg, and undergraduate student Katrina Radach and graduate student Anna McLaskey, both in the UW School of Oceanography, will participate in the second leg.

three researchers on boat

UW research scientist Ryan McCabe (right) and NOAA scientists work on an instrument this week before taking the first samples off Cabo San Lazaro, Mexico.Simone Alin/NOAA

Also participating are UW research scientists Brendan Carter, Julian Herndon and Ryan McCabe, and lab technician Morgan Osterndorf, all with the UW’s Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean.

Washington state observation stations include stops off the Olympic Peninsula at the end of May to collect data at Cape Elizabeth, near Taholah, and Cape Alava, near Lake Ozette. Other nearby sampling locations include the mouth of the Columbia River and Barkley Sound in British Columbia.

The first such NOAA cruise to look at West Coast ocean acidification took place in 2007, and the most recent ones were in 2011 and 2013. This year’s cruise includes more types of biological and chemical sampling, and is billed as the most integrated West Coast ocean acidification cruise to date.

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For more information, contact Chadsey at mchadsey@uw.edu or 206-616-1538.

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