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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Important New Buoy Launched

NSF today announced that the first buoy to monitor ocean acidification has been launched in the Gulf of Alaska. If you've forgotten why the threat of ocean acidification keeps coral reef conservationists awake at night, refresh your memory here.
Anchored in water nearly 5,000 meters deep, the buoy (pictured above) began to transmit data via satellite once it hit the water. I'm guessing the oceanographers pictured atop the buoy are not permanently attached to the rig, but you never know with physical oceanographers. The instrument package attached to the buoy will, however, measure the air-sea exchange of carbon dioxide, oxygen and nitrogen gas in addition to the pH of the surface waters. Information from this buoy will lead to a better understanding of ocean acidification--a growing threat to the world's oceans--by helping scientists determine exactly how physical and biological processes affect carbon dioxide in the north Pacific Ocean, said Fred Lipschultz, program director in NSF's division of ocean sciences.

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