Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Ocean Carbon Cycle Affected by Drought


Recent drought conditions in the North Pacific Ocean near Hawaii have caused a decrease in the strength of the carbon dioxide sink, according to a study published this week in the journal Nature. A team funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and led by scientists Dave Karl and Roger Lukas of the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) at the University of Hawaii used 15 years of time-series measurements to compare the precipitation, salinity and carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations at Station ALOHA, located in the Pacific Ocean approximately 100 kilometers north of Oahu.

The study shows that a decrease in the tendency of the ocean to take up CO2 is due to an increase in the water’s salinity, which is a direct result of the drought seen in much of the North Pacific Ocean over the past five years.

"Our study can be considered an oceanic analogue of the long standing atmospheric measurement program at the Mauna Loa Observatory," says Karl. "The results from this study were unexpected; we didn’t realize how much difference salinity can make when modeling the carbon cycle."

According to John Dore, a SOEST researcher and lead author of the study, rainfall patterns and ocean CO2 are inexorably linked. "We all recognize the impacts of drought on land, but its effects on the biogeochemistry of the ocean have tended to go unnoticed," says Dore.

The Hawaii Ocean Time-series (HOT) program is an ongoing field study designed to determine temporal variability in physical, chemical and biological processes in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre (NPSG), one of Earth’s largest habitats. The program began in October 1988 with the establishment of the benchmark sampling site, Station ALOHA, at 22o45’N, 158oW. Nearly every month for the past 15 years, a team of interdisciplinary scientists with common research objectives have been making shipboard measurements, conducting experiments and testing a broad range of ecological hypotheses.

"This extended period of time-series measurements is very rare," says Lukas. "Along with a sister station in Bermuda, Station ALOHA has the longest records of comprehensive biogeochemical and physical measurements anywhere in the world."

The data have already revealed unexpected variability in habitat changes and in the response of the organisms living there. The present study is but one important example. "These interesting results are another example that shows the importance of longterm observations to ocean research," says James Yoder, director of NSF’s division of ocean sciences, which funded the research. "Ocean observatories of the future will provide the capability to tease out important signals that are missed during the comparatively short duration of oceanographic expeditions."

Scientists involved in the HOT project have recently received new funding (with other colleagues) from NSF to establish an autonomous ocean observatory at Station ALOHA, reusing an abandoned fiber optic telephone cable to extend the Internet from their offices to the seafloor three miles below the ocean surface. From there, the cable travels upward into the surface layer, providing the capability for real-time observations of ocean processes. "With this observatory we will move much of the sampling from the ship to our desktops," says Lukas. "But, there will always be a need for us to go to sea, both to maintain the observatory, and to make measurements that require water sampling."

During this next five-year observation period, the measurement program will move toward more autonomous detection of ocean characteristics by connecting instrumented moorings to the ALOHA observatory and using autonomous underwater vehicles and gliders to provide spatial context around the site.

The research was also funded by the State of Hawaii.

Cheryl Dybas | NSF
Further information:

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere
25.10.2016 | American Geophysical Union

nachricht Enormous dome in central Andes driven by huge magma body beneath it
25.10.2016 | University of California - Santa Cruz

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

Fluorescent holography: Upending the world of biological imaging

25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Etching Microstructures with Lasers

25.10.2016 | Process Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>