NOAA Ocean Acidification Research Buoy

by John MacFarlane 2016


The NOAA Remote Sensing Buoy on Back of Delivery Truck at Campbell River BC. (Photo from the John MacFarlane collection. )

I was in a ferry lineup in September 2016 on my way to Quadra Island BC when I noticed a delivery truck carrying an interesting cargo. It turned out to be a disassembled special purpose buoy. Its exact function and eventual location was a mystery. A search of the internet revealed the Alaska Ocean Acidification Mooring Network, a series of buoys carrying monitoring sensors. We were lucky to see it.


Clue to the Identity of the Buoy and Its Purpose (Photo from the John MacFarlane collection. )

The label on the superstructure only gives clues but it appears to be a joint initiative of the University of Alaska (Fairbanks) and the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to study ocean acidification. The University of Alaska has a School of Ocean Fisheries & Ocean Sciences. The University states "Placement of this center in Alaska is critical to the state’s long-term interests because the region will experience the effects of ocean acidification faster and to a greater degree than in lower latitudes due to colder water temperatures, ocean circulation patterns and highly productive continental shelves. These characteristics act to enhance the transport of CO2 from the atmosphere into the ocean."


The NOAA Remote Sensing Buoy on Back of Delivery Truck at Campbell River BC. (Photo from the John MacFarlane collection. )

The buoy will monitor changes in carbon dioxide and associated parameters. It will give us information about the duration and intensity of ocean acidification events, including daily telemetered data which allows us to monitor the environment in near real time. The data transmissions are received by the Pacific Marine Environmental Lab (PMEL) in Seattle and are displayed on the NOAA website.

I must say "Thank goodness someone is investigating this issue – and since no Canadian authority or agency seems to be doing so, at least the US is looking into the matter in Canadian waters." Keep your eyes open to determine exactly where it has been deployed on our coast – and monitor the data as it becomes public. Its in all our best interests.

To quote from this article please cite:

MacFarlane, John M. (2016) NOAA Ocean Acidification Research Buoy. 2016.

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