The Gulf of Maine is a productive continental shelf sea that is fresher and less buffered against changes in pH than adjacent Atlantic Ocean waters.  This is due to compounding factors, including cooler temperatures that promote carbon dioxide (CO2) solubility, local freshwater inputs that are more acidic than the surrounding oceanic waters (Salisbury et al., 2008a; 2009), and the relatively poorly buffered Labrador current which feeds into the Gulf of Maine from the Scotian Shelf (Wang et al., 2013).

 

Mook Sea Farm, Wapole, Maine. Credit: Mook Sea Farm.

Mook Sea Farm, Wapole, Maine. Credit: Mook Sea Farm.

The Gulf of Maine, including the adjacent Georges Bank, annually generates over one billion dollars (U.S) in commercial fisheries landings (NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service).  The majority of these landings are crustaceans and mollusks, which in terms of both value and biomass have vastly surpassed finfish since the 1980s.  The landings include a rapidly expanding cultured shellfish industry.  Ocean acidification (OA) could have negative consequences for both shelled and fin fisheries potentially impacting the dependent fisheries.

In collaboration with NOAA’s Ocean Acidification Program (OAP), U.S. IOOS’ Ocean Technology Transition Project awarded the University of New Hampshire (UNH) a three year grant in 2015 to expand the quantity and quality of ocean acidification monitoring across Northeastern U.S. coastal waters specific to meeting industry needs.

Four different deployment platforms will be used to enhance ocean acidification monitoring within the Northeast region extending from Long Island Sound to the Scotian Shelf with significant improvement in temporal and spatial coverage.  In addition, three parameters tied to the coastal ocean’s carbonic acid system will be measured.  These parameters are Total Alkalinity (TA), pH, and the partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2).  Adding the all-new TA measurement capability to the regional observation network will provide more accurate and reliable OA monitoring.

Data products that will be developed from the multi-year measurements include a nearshore and offshore baseline OA seasonal time series as well as threshold indices tied to acidification impacts on larval production at the Mook Sea Farm oyster hatchery.  An outreach and technical supervision component will include the transfer of carbonate system observing technologies to project partners and to the broader fishing industry, resource management, and science communities.  The Northeastern Regional Association of Ocean Observing Systems (NERACOOS) will provide data management and communication (DMAC) services and work towards implementing these technological advances into the IOOS network.

Project Details

Planned activities are listed below by implementation year. Status updates will be added to this page as the project progresses.

Year 1 – $300,000 (September 2015 – August 2016):

  1. Sensor Deployment and Data Acquisition:
Proposed NERACOOS-CML and MSF shore side sites (green), current UNH sampling sites (red), Maine DMR trawl survey sites (blue), NOAA-NMFS sites and track (yellow), and Skógafoss line (magenta). Insets clockwise from top left: NOAANMFS R/V Bigelow, SOOP Skógafoss, Maine DMR trawler FV Robert Michael, shore side gas equilibrator.

Proposed NERACOOS-CML and MSF shore side sites (green), current UNH sampling sites (red), Maine DMR trawl survey sites (blue), NOAA-NMFS sites and track (yellow), and Skógafoss line (magenta). Insets clockwise from top left: NOAANMFS R/V Bigelow, SOOP Skógafoss, Maine DMR trawler FV Robert Michael, shore side gas equilibrator.

  • The first two TA sensor deployments will be at a NERACOOS observation node, UNH Coastal Marine Lab, and Mook Sea Farms.  One TA sensor will undergo a one-month burn in and modification phase at the UNH Coastal Marine Lab to test the accuracy and stability of the     sensor ag
    The HydroFIA system aboard the R/V Tropico

    The HydroFIA system aboard the
    R/V Tropico

    ainst certified reference materials.  Together with CONTROS, UNH will engineer and install automated switching capabilities to enable the sampling of three streams: filtered seawater, unfiltered seawater and certified reference material.  Upon satisfactory completion of testing at NERACOOS-CML, UNH will begin deployment of CONTROS TA systems at various partner platforms starting at Mook Sea Farms.  Update:  Two instruments have been delivered and deployed at the UNH Coastal Marine Lab and Mook Sea Farms.  Both are operating consitently collecting HydroFIA data.  UNH also had the opportunity to deploy the HydraFIA instrument in a tropical coral reef, mangrove, sea grass environment at the Marine Sciences station in La Parguera, Puerto Rico in October 2016. 
    • The CONTROS TA sensor ship deployments will begin aboard the Skógafoss, a NOAA Ship of Opportunity Program (SOOP) vessel operated by Eimskip Shipping, which runs bi-weekly along the NOAA AX-2 line.  This will be done in collaboration with Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) and NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC), who have maintained systems to measure pCO2 for the past 10 years and temperature and salinity for the last 30 years.  In addition to the CONTROS TA sensor we will add a Sunburst AFT pH system.
    • A shore side station will be installed at Mook Sea Farms, which will have the identical suite of instruments as the existing NERACOOS-CML site.  Additionally, to aid in product development, the capability to sample both the incoming seawater stream as well as a larval tank will be added at Mook Sea Farms.
    • A CONTROS TA sensor will be deployed aboard the two-week NOAA ECO-MON trawl survey cruises in the Gulf of Maine each February, May, August and October.  The sensor package on these cruises will be identical to that on the Skógafoss, and UNH personnel will man each cruise to operate the instrumentation.
    1. Quality Assessment of Carbonate System Data and Instrument. Over 1,200 duplicate discrete samples will be taken during the cruises and at shore-based stations.  AOML will randomly select a subset of 100 replicate samples per year for quality analyses. From experience with samples from the fisheries ship Bigelow, the AOML laboratory can obtain accurate pCO2 and pH values, measured at constant temperature, on stored and shipped samples.  The over-determination of the carbonate system will also address how to correct for salinity and organic protolytes in the conversion from total alkalinity to carbon alkalinity in the near-shore and Mook Sea Farm samples (e.g. Hunt et al., 2011) and provide a common reference for all samples.  The results from these efforts will then be used to create error bounds for the UNH laboratory analyses and will be used in conjunction with UNH discrete sample data and the instrument’s certified reference material checks to determine instrument accuracy.  The results of the quality assessments will be used by CONTROS to guide further development of the instrument and in our sensor and OA data assessments.  Update:  UNH and Kongsberg personnel collaborated on an intensive validation exercise June 6‐7 2016, during which 12 discrete samples were collected and subsequently analyzed at the UNH Coastal Carbon Lab.  Results from this exercise showed very good agreement between lab and HydroFIA measurements, with a mean difference of ‐1 μmol/kg, translating to ‐0.05% difference. Weekly/bi‐weekly discrete laboratory samples collected by UNH since deployment of the first HydroFIA system have confirmed a similar level
      of accuracy through 12 samples collected between May and September 2016. 
    2. Product Development
      1. Work with end-users to determine gaps in Gulf of Maine Ocean Acidification Products.  Update:  PI Salisbury presented results from the CML HydroFIA sensor at the US/Canadian DFO OAPI meeting in St. Andrews New Brunswick 9/20‐9/21/16. Jacob Sobin (from Contros) presented a poster featuring the TAACT project at the 13th International Coral Reef Symposium June 19‐24 in Honolulu HI.
    3. Capacity Building and Outreach
      1. The Project will offer informational workshops and hands-on training during two daylong workshops at Maine State facilities.  These short courses will cover the a) fundamentals of aqueous carbonate chemistry; b) training in the sampling protocols for discrete measurements c) training on continuously measuring instrumentation including pCO2 and the CONTROS TA system, d) data logging and reporting and e) discussions promoting identification and sharing of practical “lessons learned” in monitoring and adaptation measures through our work and other NOAA-sponsored efforts.  Update:  UNH trained operations staff at Mook Sea Farm on the operations of the instruement as well as collection of validation samples.
      2. Project leaders will stay available for advice and guidance throughout the duration of the project with consultation tailored to the State agency’s needs.
      3. The state of Maine is on the verge of passing landmark legislation that will form a commission to study and review existing literature and data on OA and how it has affected, or could potentially affect, commercially harvested and grown shellfish along the coast of the State.  Through workshops, seminars and presentations, the Project team will help the commission understand factors driving OA, how to mitigate some effects of OA, how to strengthen the scientific monitoring, research and analysis regarding the causes of and trends in OA, as well as the actions necessary to protect commercially valuable shellfish species and the State’s shellfish aquaculture industry.

    Year 2 (September 2016 – August 2017):

      1. Sensor Deployment and Data Acquisition: Continue sensor deployment and data acquisition as described in Year 1.
      2. Quality Assessment of Carbonate System Data and Instrument. Continue quality assessment as described in Year 1.
      3. Product Development
        1. Complete work with end-users to determine gaps in Gulf of Maine Ocean Acidification Products.
        2. Develop spatiotemporal Gulf of Maine-wide products for NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), NOAA OAP and NE-CAN.
        3. Develop nearshore OA products for nearshore users, including threshold indices and baseline datasets for regional Aquaculture application.  Using the project’s time series measurements (TA, pH, pCO2, O2, salinity, and temperature) at the Mook Sea Farm, develop the first east coast dataset relating oyster larval growth rates to variable ambient ocean carbonate conditions.
        4. Develop products for Maine’s Department of Marine Resources and Department of Environmental Protection that show baseline seasonal magnitudes of carbonate parameters (Ω, pCO2, and pH) in Maine’s coastal waters.
        5. Develop the first version of Sensor Best Practices for Marine Resource Management in the Gulf of Maine.  The Report will summarize findings related to the sensors and measurements from all of UNH’s platforms, but with emphasis on the three platforms featuring continuous pH, pCO2 and TA data (NERACOOS-CML, MSF, and the Skógafoss).
      4. Capacity Building and Outreach
        1. Project leaders will stay available for advice and guidance throughout the duration of the project with consultation tailored to the State agencies and Legislators needs.  
        2. The Project Team will offer three 3-hour training workshops at the Maine Shellfish Working Group Meeting, the Maine Fishermen’s Forum, the Milford Shellfish Seminar, and at the Northeast Aquaculture Conference and Exposition.  During these workshops we will provide a summary of carbonate chemistry, show carbonate system data collected at Mook Sea Farm, and discuss its implications.  At the Maine Fisherman’s Forum, we will tailor a presentation to address OA issues relevant to the lobster industry and coastal fin fisheries.  Update: A second group conference call was conducted on July 13, 2016. Participants were from UNH, Contros,NOAA‐AOML, Mook Sea Farm, Maine DMR, NOAA‐NMFS, and NERACOOS. The delivery of the second HydroFIA system was discussed, as well as deployment at Mook Sea Farm. Also discussed was the need to identify a new ship of opportunity for the third HydroFIA system, as the originally‐proposed EIMSKIP vessel is no longer available. Rik Wanninkhof identified the possibility of deployment aboard the NOAA R/V Bigelow, and this is currently being discussed with NOAA operations staff.

    Year 3 (September 2017 – August 2018):

    1. Sensor Deployment and Data Acquisition: Continue sensor deployment and data acquisition as described in Year 1. 
    2. Quality Assessment of Carbonate System Data and Instrument. Continue quality assessment as described in Year 1.
    3. Product Development
      1. Complete spatiotemporal Gulf of Maine-wide products for NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), NOAA OAP and NE-CAN.
      2. Complete nearshore OA products for nearshore users, including threshold indices and baseline datasets for regional Aquaculture application.  Using the project’s time series measurements (TA, pH, pCO2, O2, salinity, and temperature) at the Mook Sea Farm, develop the first east coast dataset relating oyster larval growth rates to variable ambient ocean carbonate conditions. 
      3. Complete products for Maine’s Department of Marine Resources and Department of Environmental Protection that show baseline seasonal magnitudes of carbonate parameters (Ω, pCO2, and pH) in Maine’s coastal waters.
      4. Complete the first version of Sensor Best Practices for Marine Resource Management in the Gulf of Maine.  The Report will summarize findings related to the sensors and measurements from all of UNH’s platforms, but with emphasis on the three platforms featuring continuous pH, pCO2 and TA data (NERACOOS-CML, MSF, and the Skógafoss).
    4. Capacity Building and Outreach
      1. Project leaders will stay available for advice and guidance throughout the duration of the project with consultation tailored to the State agencies and Legislators needs.
      2. The Project Team will offer three 3-hour training workshops at the Maine Shellfish Working Group Meeting, the Maine Fishermen’s Forum, the Milford Shellfish Seminar, and at the Northeast Aquaculture Conference and Exposition.  During these workshops we will provide a summary of carbonate chemistry, show carbonate system data collected at Mook Sea Farm, and discuss its implications.  At the Maine Fisherman’s Forum, we will tailor a presentation to address OA issues relevant to the lobster industry and coastal fin fisheries.

    For more information about this project, please contact Dr. Joseph E. Salisbury.

    For more information about IOOS’ Ocean Technology Transition Project, please contact Jenifer Rhoades, Project Manager.

    Project Partners

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