What's New Archive
Ocean Station Papa is a long term surface mooring that monitors ocean-atmosphere interactions, carbon uptake, and ocean acidification in the Gulf of Alaska. As part of the global network of OceanSITES reference stations, measurements from the mooring are used to improve satellite products and forecast models as well our understanding of air-sea interactions, and their role within the climate system.
NOAA PMEL oceanographers and colleagues lead an effort to establish first-of-its-kind standards for calculating and reporting trends in ocean acidification observations
For the first time, an international research team compiled a set of best practices to assess and report ocean acidification trends. Standardized procedures for measuring ocean carbon chemistry are already largely established, but a common set of best practices for trend analysis are missing. These best practices will facilitate ocean acidification comparison of trends across different regions. They also allow the research community to establish enduring accurate records of change that communicate the current status of ocean acidification to the public.
Ocean acidification occurs when the ocean absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, causing a fundamental chemical change. The global rise in ocean acidity is fueled by human-emitted greenhouse gases. The global ocean has absorbed approximately 620 billion tons of carbon dioxide (~25%) from emissions released into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels. Impacts from ocean acidification will vary by region. In order to implement adaptation and mitigation strategies, managers need an accurate and comparable understanding of how ocean acidification progresses globally, regionally and locally. This requires standardized procedures at all levels of data collection, dissemination, and analysis.
Newly published work in Frontiers in Marine Science describes these best practices developed from input from the ocean carbon science community and established best practices already adopted for atmospheric greenhouse gases. Just as NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratories’ (ESRL) researchers played an active role in establishing standards for assessing trends in atmospheric CO2, PMEL researchers are now doing the same for ocean carbonate records.
These best practices offer a consistent analysis method people can implement on surface ocean carbon datasets to better understand ocean acidification trends and compare across regions. It will be essential to revisit, share and update these best practices as more ocean carbon measurements are available, particularly from new autonomous observing technologies.
Accompanying these best practices is free, publicly-available software for calculating trends on PMEL’s GitHub.
Dr. Meghan Cronin of NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory has been named a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society. Fellows make outstanding contributions to the atmospheric or related oceanic or hydrologic sciences or their applications during a substantial period of years. New fellows account for no more than two-tenths of 1 percent of all AMS Members each year.
Dr. Cronin leads the Ocean Climate Stations (OCS) Project using autonomous platforms, including moored buoys and uncrewed surface vehicles (USV), to make meteorological and oceanic measurements to help validate numerical model and satellite products and improve our understanding of air-sea interactions and their role within the climate system. OCS has led multiple saildrone USV missions to the tropical Pacific and maintains longterm surface moorings at Station Papa in the NE Pacific and at the Kuroshio Extension Observatory (KEO) in the NW Pacific, both of which are part of the global network of OceanSITES reference stations.
With over 90 peer-reviewed publications and an h-index of 34, Dr. Cronin currently serves on several international panels and committees including the Global Climate Observing System/Global Ocean Observing System’s Ocean Observations Panel for Climate (OOPC), the second Cooperative Study of Kuroshio and its Adjacent Regions (CSK-2) steering group and OceanSITES Executive Committee and Steering Team. An affiliate professor at the University of Washington’s School of Oceanography, she particularly enjoys mentoring undergraduate summer interns, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and Early Career Ocean Professionals around the world.
Dr. Cronin co-chairs the Observing Air-Sea Interactions Strategy (OASIS), a UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development programme that is developing a practical, integrated approach to observing air-sea interactions through capacity development, leveraged multi-disciplinary and international activities, and advancement of understanding. For those at AMS Annual Meeting, join Meghan at the NOAA Booth (#201) on Tuesday, January 10 at 2:45 pm Mountain Time to hear more.
A typhoon, smoke from wildfires and increasing rain are not what most imagine when thinking of the Arctic. Yet these are some of the climate-driven events included in NOAA’s 2022 Arctic Report Card, which provides a detailed picture of how warming is reshaping the once reliably frozen, snow-covered region which is heating up faster than any other part of the world.
This year’s Arctic Report Card also features the most comprehensive chapter in the annual report’s 17-year history about how these dramatic environmental changes are felt by Arctic Indigenous people, and how their communities are addressing the changes. Additionally, a chapter on precipitation has been added reflecting an improvement in available data and showing the dramatic increase in precipitation across the Arctic in recent decades.
Surface Air Temperature
PMEL Arctic researcher's Dr. James Overland and Dr. Muyin Wang contributed to sections on surface air temperature. Arctic annual air temperatures from October 2021 to September 2022 were the sixth warmest dating back to 1900, continuing a decades-long trend in which Arctic air temperatures have warmed faster than the global average. The Arctic's seven warmest years since 1900 have been the last seven years.
Winter temperatures in the Eurasian Arctic and Arctic Ocean were above normal, while winter temperatures over most of North America were below-normal.
An extensive region of low pressure in the eastern Arctic supported warm Eurasian and Arctic Ocean winter temperatures, while low pressure across the Alaska Arctic and northern Canada sustained warm summer temperatures over the Beaufort Sea and Canadian Archipelago.
About the Report Card
The report card is compiled by 147 experts from 11 nations and includes three sections: Vital Signs, Indicators and Frostbites. Vital Signs provide annual updates on key topics. Indicators explore topics that are periodically updated, and Frostbites report on new and emerging issues.
Modified from the original NOAA Press Release.
The Pivotal Recovery Story Map (ESRI) recounts the events in 2021 of how NOAA scientists raced against nature to save their most valuable scientific instruments in the Bering Sea. This interactive online map highlights the recovery efforts, the unique data collected and the implications it has for management.
In the fall of 2021, a combination of sea ice, hurricane-force winds, and a pandemic set the stage for what would become a momentous recovery effort for scientific moorings in the southeastern Bering Sea. These scientific moorings provide an overview of changing ocean conditions as part of a 30 year time series. Scientists deploy these moorings on an annual basis to ensure continuous measurements during ice and ice-free seasons.
NOAA scientists are at the forefront of detecting regional and global climate change and its impacts on Alaska’s marine ecosystems. With a generation of ocean observing, NOAA EcoFOCI, or the Ecosystems and Fisheries Oceanography Coordinated Investigations Program, continues to study and share how oceanographic and biological changes affect marine ecosystems such as the Cold Pool and impact of sea ice loss.
This Story Map was developed by Lindsey Neuwirth, a 2022 NOAA College Supported Intern at Stony Brook University.
To view the story map, please see this version on the ESRI website"Pivotal Recovery for Science''. Note that most story maps are large, single-page multimedia presentations. When using a mobile device, we recommend viewing over WiFi.
The Argo Program was developed in 1999 and today supports a global array of almost 4,000 robotic profiling floats that measure the temperature and salinity of the upper 2,000 meters (1.2 miles) of the ocean. Argo floats are now being tested to dive down to a depth of 6,000 meters (3.7 miles) and have additional sensors on them to collect information about the biology and the chemistry (oxygen, pH, nitrate, suspended particles, and downwelling irradiance) of the global ocean. Credit: Nina Buzby (University of Washington)
PMEL’s Global Observations of Biogeochemistry and Ocean Physics research group is looking for high school teachers and classrooms in the greater Puget Sound region to join our new outreach program, Adopt-A-Float. PMEL researchers are using autonomous robots called Argo profiling floats that measure physical, chemical, and biological variables in the ocean to understand the impacts of climate and ecosystem changes.
PMEL deploys about 60 floats each year and classrooms can engage with a dedicated float as it collects crucial data across the ocean.
Each classroom involved in the PMEL Adopt-A-Float Program will get to adopt a float that is about to be deployed in the ocean. Classes will get to:
- Name the float
- Create an associated image or logo to be placed on the float prior to deployment
- Learn how to view the float data online
- Develop hypotheses on what that float might “see” once deployed
- Have in-person or virtual classroom visits with scientists
- Access teaching/demo materials, including lesson plans on how to view and download data from your adopted float
- Tour PMEL
To get started or learn more about the Adopt A Float outreach program, contact the team via email at email@example.com
The 6+ miles-wide asteroid that struck Earth 66 million years ago wiping out nearly all the dinosaurs and roughly three-quarters of the planet’s plant and animal species also triggered a megatsunami with mile-high waves that new research confirms its global impact.
A new study, published today in the journal AGU Advances, presents the first global simulation of the Chicxulub asteroid impact tsunami. An international group of researchers from academic institutions and government agencies, including NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Lab and Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Lab combined numerical modeling and analysis of geological records to recreate global impact of the tsunami generated by the impact.
Simulation of the megatsunami triggered by the asteroid has provided unlikely verifications for numerical models and improves our understanding of the geology of this period.
Numerical analysis of the event used three different models to reproduce tsunami generation and propagation. A large computer program that models details of complex fluid flows, called a hydrocode, simulated the first 10 minutes of the tsunami generation, and two NOAA-developed models were then used to simulate the tsunami propagation around the global ocean. Additionally, the research team reviewed the geological record at more than 100 sites worldwide and found evidence that supports the models’ predictions of the tsunami’s path and power – a remarkable verification of the model for the megatsunami event of 66 million years ago.
“This tsunami was strong enough to disturb and erode sediments in ocean basins halfway around the globe, leaving either a gap in the sedimentary records or a jumble of older sediments,” said lead author Molly Range, who conducted the modeling study for a master’s thesis at the University of Michigan.
The study authors calculated that the initial energy in the tsunami was up to 30,000 times larger than the energy in the December 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake tsunami, which killed more than 230,000 people and is one of the largest tsunamis in the modern record.
“Our study is the first estimate of the global impact of the tsunami generated by the Chicxulub asteroid,” said Vasily Titov, co-author of the study. ”The models estimate that virtually all world coastlines experienced catastrophic flooding from that tsunami.”
Depending on the geometries of the coast and the advancing waves, most coastal regions would be inundated and eroded to some extent.
The team’s simulations show that in some deep-water basins of the North Atlantic, the Pacific and in some adjacent areas, underwater current speeds likely exceeded 20 centimeters per second (typically less than 1 cm per second for an earthquake-generated tsunami), a velocity that is strong enough to erode fine-grained sediments on the seafloor.
In contrast, the South Atlantic, the North Pacific, the Indian Ocean and the region that is today the Mediterranean were largely shielded from the strongest effects of the tsunami, according to the team’s simulation. In those places, the modeled current speeds were likely less than the 20 cm/sec threshold.
“We found corroboration in the geological record for the predicted areas of maximal impact in the open ocean,” said Brian Arbic, co-author and physical oceanographer at University of Michigan . “The geological evidence definitely strengthens the paper.”
For the current study, the researchers did not attempt to estimate the extent of coastal flooding caused by the tsunami. A follow-up study is planned to model the extent of coastal inundation worldwide by PMEL’s Vasily Titov.
Any modern documented tsunamis pale in comparison with this global catastrophic event, about 30,000 times smaller than this megatsunami. This study helps to assess and quantify the risk of future large asteroid impacts. In addition, the ability to reproduce mega-events like this is an important validation for the models to be able to forecast global impacts of more conventional tsunamis that humanity has to deal with.
Read the full University of Michigan Press Release for more details.
On July 29, 2022, representatives from NOAA and the Indonesian Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysical Agency (BMKG; Badan Meteorologi, Klimatologi, dan Geofisika) signed an updated Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that extends the partnership agreement between NOAA and BMKG for five more years. This renewed MOU marks 17 years of successful long-term partnership that was first established in 2005 and later formalized with the signing of the first MOU in 2012.
This bilateral partnership leverages mutually beneficial resources that strengthen our combined capabilities in ocean and atmospheric observations for improved weather and climate prediction. Some of the highlights of this partnership include delivery of improved information for regional climate decision support services, PhD opportunities in the US for Indonesian students, training and capacity building opportunities for Indonesian scientists at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center (CPC) International Climate Desk, jointly conducted RAMA related field work on Indonesian research vessels in the Eastern Indian Ocean, and annual BMKG-NOAA Partnership Science Workshops.
PMEL provides all the equipment, instrumentation, technical capacity building, and data services for moorings deployed in RAMA. PMEL also provides support for PhD students, participates in the annual partnership workshops, and participates on the annual joint BMKG-NOAA RAMA cruises aboard the Indonesian research vessels to deploy up to five RAMA moorings per year.
July – August 2022: PMEL's Sharon Walker joined a team of engineers, multibeam mapping experts, and scientists from around the globe to complete a high-resolution bathymetric and hydrothermal plume survey of the post-eruption caldera at the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai (HTHH) volcano. This is the first time a survey that includes direct measurements of the water column up to 300 meters deep has been conducted entirely remotely using an uncrewed surface vessel operated and monitored by engineers and scientists who are located across the globe.
As part of the Tonga Eruption Seabed Mapping Project (TESMaP), PMEL provided Miniature Autonomous Plume Recorder (MAPR) instruments to determine the level of ongoing volcanic and hydrothermal activity within the caldera. A winch and custom built frame were added to the uncrewed surface vessel (USV) Maxlimer from Sea-Kit International Ltd to house and deploy the MAPRs and a small CTD. To date, 24 vertical casts and 9 tow-yo’s have been successfully completed. The USV Maxlimer is also equipped with a multibeam echo sounder to acoustically measure depth and state of the seabed.
The powerful eruption of HTHH on January 15, 2022 caused devastating tsunamis in Tonga and an unprecedented air pressure wave that circled the globe. Data about these impacts was quickly available from a range of ocean and atmosphere observing systems including satellites, tide gauges, DART tsunami systems, weather stations, Saildrone uncrewed surface vehicles, and human observations. The impact of the eruption on the ocean environment included observations of pumice rafts and discolored water dispersing at the surface. Knowing what happened deep beneath the surface of the ocean was harder to understand and is important for determining the level of ongoing risk from this volcano.
Results show the caldera was excavated to a depth of 850 meters by the eruption, which is 700 meters deeper than pre-eruption. MAPR sensors have confirmed that there is ongoing activity within the caldera, though it could be due to continuing eruption at a reduced intensity, hydrothermal venting driven by cooling lava, or both. The distribution and thickness of ash deposits on the flanks of the volcano outside the caldera were mapped during phase 1 of the project, along with the collection of seawater, rock, and sediment samples, in April by New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) R/V Tangaroa. This project is funded by the Nippon Foundation, in partnership with NIWA and Seabed 2030, with additional support and collaboration on MAPR results from GNS Science.
The USV Maxlimer is being operated from Sea-Kit’s command center in Essex, UK (over 16,000 miles from the study site), the survey team has been working from places as far and wide as Australia, Poland, Egypt, Ireland, Mauritius, Seattle (USA) and New Zealand.
July 29 - August 4: A team of NOAA and University of Washington Cooperative Institute scientists flew over Alaskan waters to conduct renewed research on Arctic ocean heat flows. Scientists deployed 30 floats from NOAA aircraft that will provide key temperature data to better understand how the Arctic ocean is warming.
The team completed the second leg of the 2022 mission from the northernmost point of Alaska, Utqiagvik. They deployed 24 temperature profilers, Airborne eXpendable Bathy Thermographs (AXBTs), in groups of six along four different sections of an ocean slope region. AXBTs are small probes that measure ocean temperature as a function of depth as they travel through the water column. The ocean floor contains a narrow channel where warm water flows into the Arctic, eventually splitting into two flows moving left and right. The goal of this research is to measure the water temperature along this slope and determine the total heat content that each pathway is guiding, including how much of that heat moves in each direction. Determining the heat flow (in both directions) provides important information that contributes to sea ice formation and retreat, as well as effects on downstream algal blooms.
In June, the team began the first flights from Prudhoe Bay to Kotzebue and deployed eight floats that measure ocean temperature to support data collection efforts of the Distributed Biological Observatory. The team deployed 8 AXBTs that will provide critical data in this undersampled area for the next few years. 2 of the 8 floats are transmitting ocean temperature data and measurements were collected between sampling locations.
This work is a fresh take on efforts established by the late Dr. Kevin Wood. Dr. Wood was deeply committed to understanding and communicating the nuances of science in a way that inspired and motivated people to work to mitigate climate change. To continue his legacy, special funding was brought together from NOAA PMEL, NOAA OMAO, and the University of Washington CICOES to support these flights.
Dave Butterfield checking fluid connections to the methane spectrometer (large black pressure case) mounted at the back of ROV Jason’s tool sled. Other equipment used on this dive include the auxiliary pump at left, 3 titanium gas-tight sampler with colored T-handles, a suction sampler (large orange hose) and the Hydrothermal Fluid Sampler intake nozzle at far right. Photo Credit: Andrew Fahrland (OKSI)
NOAA PMEL, University of Washington and OptoKnowledge Systems, Inc. (OKSI) successfully conducted the first deep water test of a new methane analyzer to measure the concentration and carbon isotope ratio of methane near Axial Seamount. This new instrument can collect data that will improve scientists’ understanding of carbon cycling, greenhouse gasses, and sub-seafloor chemosynthetic reactions.
After 3 years of testing and development, the analyzer was mounted on the remotely operated vehicle Jason and coupled to PMEL’s hydrothermal fluid and particle sampler (HFS) during a recent cruise on the Research Vessel Thompson. The methane analyzer combines a novel laser absorption spectroscopy gas sensor with a membrane-free approach to water sampling. While the research cruise had to be cut short, the team successfully was able to collect valuable data and coordinate samples for cross-calibration during one ROV dive.
While collecting data with the methane analyzer, researchers simultaneously sampled the same fluid in gas-tight samplers attached to the fluid manifold and in custom samplers that are part of the HFS. Methane concentrations analyzed onboard the R/V Thompson by gas chromatography on fluid samples from HFS piston and bag samplers agree well with the in-situ methane concentrations determined by the analyzer.
Ultimately, the instrument worked well on the ROV and it is expected that the methane spectrometer will have many useful applications.
Learn more about this technology development and methane work on PMEL’s Earth Ocean Interactions research page.
The methane analyzer was developed by OKSI with initial funding from the NOAA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program. The SBIR Program, also known as America’s Seed Fund, awards seed funding to U.S. small businesses to support high-risk, high-reward research and development of new technologies. In 2016, OKSI received a NOAA SBIR Phase I award to develop an instrument that could analyze underwater gasses, specifically methane and its isotopes. The company was awarded follow-on Phase II funding in 2017.
The effort has since transformed into a Phase III collaboration with PMEL. OKSI and NOAA PMEL were funded in 2019 through a National Ocean Partnership Program (NOPP) grant with NOAA Ocean Exploration support to continue development of the methane spectrometer and deploy it in deep water. In 2021, PMEL and OKSI successfully completed shallow-water methane concentration measurements in Puget Sound. The Puget Sound test showed that the instrument can take measurements of methane concentration in-situ and report those measurements in real-time to an operator on board a ship with an update rate approximately every 6 minutes.
More About the Sensor:
For the new spectrometer instrument, it is important to verify that the in-situ measurements agree with established discrete sampling and analysis for methane concentration and carbon isotope ratio. The PMEL hydrothermal fluid sampler, first developed in 1998, will deliver warm hydrothermal fluids from diffuse vents with elevated methane concentrations to the methane spectrometer and simultaneously take coordinated discrete samples for laboratory analysis of concentration and carbon isotope ratio to cross-calibrate the in-situ measurements from the methane sampler. Tamara Baumberger is collecting samples in specialized gas-tight samplers for carbon isotope and methane concentration analysis.