Researchers with NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML), NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL), NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service, and partners set sail from Bridgetown, Barbados aboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown on November 1st, 2022. Over the next 40 days, the crew and scientists recovered and redeployed key moorings in the Prediction and Research Moored Array in the Tropical Atlantic (PIRATA), deployed an additional mooring, and serviced two equatorial PIRATA buoys in support of the PIRATA Northeast Extension project and broader PIRATA objectives. They also conducted a number of research projects on the ocean and atmosphere that advance our understanding of carbon absorption in the ocean and atmospheric pollution.
AOML scientists and partners from an assortment of universities and Cooperative Institutes successfully completed the most comprehensive ocean acidification sampling of the Gulf of Mexico to date with the conclusion of the fourth Gulf of Mexico Ecosystems and Carbon Cruise, also known as the GOMECC-4 cruise. The research effort aboard the NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown began out of Key West, Florida on September 13, 2021 with 25 scientists and graduate students aboard. It ended 39 days later on October 21 with a port stop in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Scientists are heading to sea on the R/V Walton Smith to sample areas where red tide blooms are commonly present off the west Florida coast. Karenia brevis, the organism that causes red tide, forms blooms when elevated concentrations (>100,000 cells per liter) are present in the water. K. brevis produces toxins called brevetoxins that can cause massive fish kills, weaken or kill marine mammals, and (if the toxin becomes aerosolized and inhaled) cause respiratory distress in humans and marine mammals. The team of scientists will be comprehensively sampling a series of transects along the West Florida Shelf.
Dr. Leticia Barbero is a chemical oceanographer at NOAA’s Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies at the University of Miami. In her role, she works with AOML to study the carbon dioxide system in the ocean, specifically ocean acidification in the coastal waters of the U.S. East Coast and Gulf of Mexico.
AOML is deploying drifting buoys as part of a large multinational project that aims to improve our current understanding of the complicated interactions between the air and sea which create shallow convective clouds. NOAA scientists are interested in studying shallow cloud and air-sea interactions because of their influence on global conditions from temperature and precipitation to more extreme weather events.
AOML recently led a multi-agency (NOAA/AOML, NOAA/SEFSC, State of Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, NOAA/NESDIS, University of South Florida, MOTE Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, and University of Miami) research cruise to study the effects of Southwest Florida’s ongoing red tide. To address such a complex problem as red tide, the cruise brought together a diverse team of experts consisting of commercial fishermen, oceanographers, systems ecologist, phytoplankton ecologist, and fish population biologist. This cruise allowed researchers to take a holistic approach to characterize the extent of the red tide and its impacts. The goal of the cruise was to understand why these blooms happen to better inform effective future response measures and hopefully improve Florida’s resilience to these coastal events.
In August 2018, a team of biological oceanographers and ecologists set sail on the R/V Walton Smith to sample the waters of Biscayne Bay & Florida Bay. AOML has conducted regular interdisciplinary observations of south Florida coastal waters since the early 1990’s. We spoke with Chris Keble, the lead scientist for AOML’s South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Research project, to learn more.
Existing observations show that Indian Ocean surface water temperatures have been increasing since the 1970’s. But has the deep ocean warmed? Have the regional concentrations of dissolved oxygen, carbon dioxide, or nutrients changed? Has the western Indian Ocean become more acidic? These and more questions will be addressed by scientists after the completion of this cruise.
On July 18, NOAA AOML and partner scientists will depart on the Gulf of Mexico Ecosystems and Carbon Cycle (GOMECC-3) research cruise in support of NOAA’s Ocean Acidification Monitoring Program. This isn’t the first time researchers will head to sea in this region. Previous cruises have taken place along the east and Gulf of Mexico (GOM) coasts of the US in both 2007 and 2012. Together, these cruises provide coastal ocean measurements of unprecedented quality that are used both to improve our understanding of where ocean acidification (OA) is happening and how ocean chemistry patterns are changing over time. This will be the most comprehensive OA cruise to date in this region, set to include sampling in the international waters of Mexico for the first time. Ocean acidification is a global issue with global impacts, and international collaboration like this is vital to understanding and adapting to our changing oceans.
The California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI) cruise sampling was completed on April 21st aboard NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada.