On Tuesday, March 13th 2012, members of the Smith Lab and the Scripps Diving Safety Office excitedly directed SCUBA divers (Andi Haas and Brian Zgliczynski) as they permanently installed the first ocean acidification monitoring program on the Scripps pier. The monitoring system is attached underwater to a Scripps pier piling and will record seawater pH, salinity, temperature, oxygen and chlorophyll a every 15 minutes for the foreseeable future. The sensor package (engineered at Scripps), will be recovered and downloaded every month by volunteer Scripps divers. A collaborative team of ocean acidification researchers, led by Drs. Jennifer Smith and Nichole Price, will use this data to monitor local changes in ocean chemistry over time.
Ocean acidification is the lowering of seawater pH, caused by the burning of fossil fuels and subsequent increase of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere and oceans. Ocean acidification could have a major ecological impact on our coastal ecosystems, but will likely affect particular species differently. Researchers are attempting to understand the extent of the effects on marine communities and determine who will acclimate or adapt and survive and who will suffer consequences of lower pH. This ocean acidification monitoring system will equip Scripps scientists with vital information about the natural annual, seasonal, and daily fluctuations in seawater chemistry necessary to answer these questions.