Scientists measure impacts of changing climate on ocean biology

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Washington, Feb 26 (ANI): A three-year field program now underway is measuring carbon distributions and primary productivity in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean to help scientists worldwide determine the impacts of a changing climate on ocean biology and biogeochemistry.

The study, Climate Variability on the East Coast (CliVEC), will also help validate ocean color satellite measurements and refine biogeochemistry models of ocean processes.esearchers from NOAA, NASA and Old Dominion University are collaborating through an existing NOAA Fisheries Service field program, the Ecosystem Monitoring or EcoMon program.

The EcoMon surveys are conducted six times each year by the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) at 120 randomly selected stations throughout the continental shelf and slope of the northeastern US, from Cape Hatteras, N.C., into Canadian waters to cover all of Georges Bank and the Gulf of Maine.

This area is known as the Northeast U.S. continental shelf Large Marine Ecosystem.

The climate study team will participate in three annual EcoMon cruises aboard the 155-foot NOAA Fisheries Survey Vessel Delaware II, based at the NEFSC's laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

Findings from the climate impact project, funded by NASA, will help scientists better understand how annual and decadal-scale climate variability affects the growth of phytoplankton, which is the basis of the oceanic food chain.

The project will also examine organic carbon distributions along the continental margin of the East Coast and collect data for ocean acidification studies.

According to laboratory colleague Jon Hare, an oceanographer and plankton specialist, "The CliVEC program will provide a more complete understanding of the northeast US shelf ecosystem."

"It extends our EcoMon survey efforts, and we are excited about the new knowledge and advances in satellite models that we will all gain from this collaboration and pooling of resources," he said.

The team of scientists from GSFC and ODU is conducting water sampling and experiments to quantify primary productivity and carbon distributions.

"Phytoplankton are the foundation of the food chain in the ocean and produce about half of the oxygen on Earth," said Antonio Mannino from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC).

"By understanding the distribution of phytoplankton populations and how they react to natural and anthropogenic forcing, we can better predict future responses of phytoplankton and possibly ven fisheries," he added. (ANI)

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