What's New Archive
From April–June 2015, scientists on the NOAA ship Ronald H. Brown are collecting observations of Pacific Ocean water properties and currents from Tahiti to Alaska. This expedition is part of the US GO-SHIP Repeat Hydrography Program, an international effort to measure and observe the changing global ocean every decade. This particular cruise fortuitously crossed the equator during a developing El Niño and shortly after a transition to the warm phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, allowing study of how these climate variations affect ocean conditions such as biological production and heat transport.
In April, PMEL and JISAO scientists and engineers teamed up with Saildrone, Inc. to test two Saildrones in the harsh environment of the Bering Sea for the first time. The unmanned instruments sailed from Dutch Harbor, AK on April 22. They have traveled over 2,000 miles each since then, taking over 40 million measurements as they sail north following the ice retreat. With the Arctic environment changing rapidly, the success of these vehicles couldn’t come at a better time. The measurements taken across the eastern Bering Sea have the potential to provide a comprehensive picture of the changes that occur in the late spring environment when the ice is retreating.
PMEL Tropical Moored Buoy Array technicians Patrick Berk and Bill Higley recently completed a collaborative RAMA cruise aboard Indonesian Research Vessel Baruna Jaya 1. While in Indonesia, they participated in formal ceremonies celebrating the pending bilateral agreement between PMEL and Indonesia's meteorology and climatology agency, BMKG. This cruise marked a new phase of U.S. – Indonesian cooperation to better understand ocean-climate variability and how it affects the planet, and builds on years of cooperation between the two countries.
The RAMA array of surface and subsurface moorings in the Indian Ocean complements NOAA’s tropical moored arrays in the Atlantic Ocean, the Prediction and Research Moored Array in the Tropical Atlantic (PIRATA), and in Pacific Ocean, the Tropical Atmosphere Ocean (TAO) array, and Japans Triangle Trans-Ocean Buoy Network (TRITON). RAMA will improve description, understanding, and prediction of Asian monsoons, which affect one third of the world’s population. Learn more about the Global Tropical Moored Buoy Array group.
PMEL scientists Richard Feely and Chris Sabine, and JISAO scientists Adrienne Sutton and Remy Okazaki, have just embarked on the R/V Kilo Moana for the final phase of the $2 million Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE. As members of PMEL’s Ocean Carbon group, the team is providing the actual pH measurements for comparison to the measurements taken by new sensors developed by XPRIZE contestants. The competition has been reduced to 5 teams, each vying for the Accuracy Purse. The contestants will put their sensors through rigorous performance tests focused on stability and precision at up to 3,000 meters (almost 2 miles) deep.
More information can be found at NOAA Research, PMEL Ocean Carbon, Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE, and the University of Washington/Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean websites. Follow the XPRIZE cruise blog.
Kjell-Sture Johansen (NORUT), Dan Mock (AUV), Andreas TØllefsen (NORUT), Rune Storvold (NORUT), Scott Stalin (PMEL), Nick Delich (PMEL), Jim Johnson (PMEL), Hagen Teig (ESRL),Brad Hooper (AUV), Tej Dhakai (LDEO), and Scott Brown (LDEO) with partner groups after the final mission. Photo credit: Kjell-Sture Johansen
PMEL atmospheric chemists Trish Quinn and Tim Bates teamed up with other scientists and engineers to measure black carbon (soot) in the climate sensitive Arctic region. The scientists launched out of Ny-Ålesund, Norway using Mantas, an unmanned aerial systems (drones) to take measurements in the atmosphere, using a suite of sensors that could capture particle size and composition, light scattering properties and tracers that help detect the geographic origin of the particles. Scientists and engineers completed a total of 26 flights during this field season, in addition to sampling snow on the ground for black carbon deposition measurements. The data from flights and snow will help scientists better understand how black carbon is transported to the Arctic and to constrain its contribution to ice melt and warming in the Arctic.
PMEL and Oregon State University(OSU)/CIMRS scientist Bill Chadwick and Scott Nooner at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) have successfully forecast the latest eruption of Axial Seamount, an active submarine volcano located about 300 miles off the coast of Oregon. Based on a swarm of earthquakes and large vertical movements of the seafloor, the eruption started on April 24, 2015. While instruments at the site clearly picked up on these signals, the activity is not strong enough to be felt by anyone on land or large enough to produce a tsunami. In the fall of 2014 the scientists posted a blog predicting that Axial would erupt within the next 15 months. They based their prediction on a repeated pattern of seafloor elevation changes before, during, and after eruptions since 1998.
This work has been possible through a cooperative effort that includes the PMEL Earth-Ocean Interactions Program, OSU/CIMRS, the University of Washington-led OOI Cabled Array, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, UNCW and was funded by the National Science Foundation and NOAA. Please see the OSU press release.
The North Pacific Research Board’s multi-year Bering Sea Project strives to understand the effects of climate change and dynamic ice cover on the eastern Bering Sea ecosystem. Project Headlines make scientific results available to the general public. A recent PMEL contribution entitled Circulation on the Bering Sea Shelf Revealed by Temperature and Salinity Measurements summarizes research in which PMEL scientists augmented NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center bottom trawl surveys with instruments to measure ocean temperature and salinity profiles at over 350 sites in the Bering Sea. From those measurements, scientists inferred the ocean currents in this ecologically and economically rich region during the summers of 2008-2010. Those observations help us to understand the ecosystem, measure its variability, and calibrate predictive computer models that estimate future conditions under different climate scenarios. More Bering Sea Project Headlines are available here.
A 30-year history of the NOAA Vents program was published in Oceanography. In 1983, a small team of NOAA PMEL scientists, subsequently joined by colleagues at Oregon State University (CIMRS) and the University of Washington (JISAO), exploited new seafloor and water column mapping technologies to understand the impact of hydrothermal systems on ocean chemistry and seafloor ecosystems. The first decade featured fundamental discoveries about physical, biological, chemical, and oceanographic consequences of deep submarine eruptions. Partnering with international researchers, Vents made the first ever time-series studies of active submarine eruptions. Vents research set global standards for an observation-driven understanding of the transfer of heat, chemicals, and organisms from Earth’s hot interior into the ocean.
In 2013, the Vents Program was restructured into two new programs, Earth-Ocean Interactions and Acoustics, continuing the Vents legacy while focusing directly on NOAA strategic goals in ocean processes and ecosystems.
On Thursday, April 2nd, NOAA/PMEL Director Chris Sabine will discuss NOAA’s role in detecting ocean acidification and measuring community vulnerability to understand risk during Sound Conversations at the Seattle Aquarium. The Seattle Aquarium hosted the 3rd phase of the Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE aimed at developing affordable and accurate pH sensors. As a leader in ocean acidification research and detection, NOAA/PMEL scientists are providing validation measurements for the XPRIZE contest. By developing breakthrough ocean pH sensors, researchers, fisheries and resource managers, and environmental groups throughout the world will be able to measure ocean acidification in more places and with better resolution to increase the understanding of the risk ocean acidification poses to shellfish, coral reefs, and fisheries. This event is aimed at bringing the ocean acidification community together to learn about new innovative approaches to addressing ocean acidification from leaders in research, policy, and public engagement.
Philippe Cousteau joined researchers from PMEL and UW/JISAO at the Seattle Aquarium, where Phase 3 of the Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE contest was wrapping up this weekend. Following one month of data collection, the 14 teams' pH sensors were removed from a flow tank filled with Puget Sound seawater, and the data were downloaded.
The $2M Ocean Health XPRIZE is a competition to create accurate and affordable pH sensors that can be used around the globe. The development of this technology, which will help scientists map and characterize ocean chemistry globally, is of utmost importance as ocean acidification (a change in seawater chemistry resulting from CO2 absorption) is expected to impact the health of a number of vulnerable ecosystems around the world including coral reefs, shellfish, and fisheries.