A volunteer diver helps with instrument maintenance

Scripps Water Acidity Monitoring Program (SWAMP) with Live Feed of pH data

Scripps Insitution of Oceanography: Jennifer Smith, Nichole Price, Susan Kram, Todd Martz, Andrew Dickson
UCSD: Peter Arzberger, Tony Fountain, Peter Shin


Much of what we know about ocean acidification comes from data collected in the open ocean, far from human populations. In order to determine how significant the threat of ocean acidification is in our near shore waters, we must begin developing a long-term data set of oceanic pH and other water chemistry parameters. The instruments underwaterThe establishment of monitoring programs in the ocean is the only way to document how changes are occurring. Acidified water will not necessarily be uniformly distributed along a coastline, so there is an urgent need to measure seawater chemistry in shallow coastal waters.  Once we confirm patterns of how seawater chemistry is changing over time here in San Diego, we can pair these measurements with ecological observations of changes in local marine communities to assess how marine organisms respond to these changes. Susan Kram & Molly Gleason before recovering the instrumentsIn March 2012 the Smith Lab installed two instruments on the Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier at Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO). These instruments are continuously monitoring pH, dissolved oxygen, temperature, salinity and chlorophyll a concentration. One of the instruments was developed by Professor Todd Martz at SIO, and the other is a multi-sensor sonde made by YSI Environmental. The instruments contribute to the first consistent and continuous measurements of this kind for ocean acidification research at SIO and they are the beginning of an important long-term data set designed to detect change over time. These sensors require weekly maintenance by scientific SCUBA divers who inspect the instruments and collect water samples. These water samples are chemically analyzed by Dr. Andrew Dickson’s lab at SIO and are used to calibrate the instruments.

Nichole Price w instruments (1)

The Smith lab also partnered with colleagues Peter Arzberger and Tony Fountain at the California Institute of Telecommunications and Information Technology at UC San Diego (CAL IT 2) to design a communication system that provides a live-feed from our instruments underwater to the Amazon cloud! This impressive access to live-feed data from instruments underwater has greatly aided our goal of creating a long-term ocean acidification monitoring program and continuous time series data set off the SIO pier. Using several instruments and a smart phone, a live stream of data from the instruments underwater is  possible!Through these cross-disciplinary collaborations the Smith lab hopes to make this time series data available to researchers and educators worldwide to provide valuable information on OA parameters. These data can be used to design more ecologically meaningful and representative experiments can be used as a tool for public education and awareness about ocean acidification.

*Funding for this program generously provided by the Ellen Browning Scripps Foundation & California State Water Board.

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