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Ocean Acidification

Polar Regions: The Arctic

Why study the Arctic Ocean?

ocean acidification
[larger version]

The Arctic Ocean, covering an area of over 14,056,000 km2, may be one of the world's oceans most vulnerable to climate change. With a fairly constant water temperature of 0°C, the Arctic has the ability to absorb carbon dioxide more readily than warmer waters. Ocean acidification may be occurring faster at the poles than other climate regions for several reasons:

Our data from 2010 and 2011 cruises show large areas of the Canada Basin which are already undersaturated with respect to aragonite—a shell forming mineral important to growth and survival of important food web organisms, like pteropods.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is working with partners to measure baseline seawater chemistry of the Arctic Ocean and to improve understanding of ocean acidification in polar regions.

Arctic research cruises have produced new synoptic data from samples collected in the Arctic regions to provide insights into the patterns and extent of ocean acidification.

Arctic-Davis Strait Cruise (2015)

USGS and USF are participating on a Davis Straits research cruise lead by Chief Scientist Dr. Craig Lee (University of Washington). Lee's cruise to the Davis Straits is part of a coordinated effort to

During the cruise, Lisa Robbins (USGS) and Jonathan Wynn (USF) will collect seawater DOC, pH, pCO2, and oxygen isotopes using underway systems. These data will be coordinated with other scientific research efforts lead by Kumiko Azetsu-Scott at the DFO-MPO. These data will be used to understand ocean acidification and carbon fluxes in the Arctic and sub-Arctic.

The Arctic is an important area of concern because of climate change. The R/V Atlantis cruise to the Davis Strait focuses on an important gateway between Arctic and Atlantic and will provide an opportunity to collect critical data for understanding climate change and allow comparison to previously collected carbonate chemistry during previous Arctic cruises (2010-2012) in higher latitudes.

Read more about the 2015 Davis Strait Cruise.

August 2012 Cruise

Back for a third time on the Healy, the USGS and USF scientists gathered information to the west of the previous track lines, over the Chukchi Cap and into the Nautilus Basin. During the cruise we are collected:

Read more about the 2012 Arctic Cruise.


Trackline of 2012 cruise.
Trackline of 2012 Cruise.

August-September 2011 Cruise

In 2011 on the Healy, the USGS and USF scientists gathered information from the coast of Alaska, north to the Makarov Basin. Sailing nearly to the North Pole, ocean acidification researchers were able to get:

Read more about the 2011 Arctic Cruise.


Trackline of August 2011 cruise.
Trackline of August 2011 Cruise.

August 2010 Cruise

In August 2010, USGS and University of South Florida (USF) researchers sampled the Canada Basin during the 2010 U.S.-Canada Extended Continental Shelf Survey research expedition on board the U.S. Coast Guard vessel Healy. Water samples included:

Trackline of August 2010 cruise.
Trackline of August 2010 cruise.


Synoptic view of the data
Synoptic view of the data shows a line over 9,400 km long; zooming into an area, data points taken every two minutes are revealed. [larger version]

Symposium participants stopped by to see the 3D model of Arctic ocean chemistry.
Symposium participants stopped by to see the 3D model of Arctic ocean chemistry. [larger version]

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