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August 2012 Issue

Observatory Network Deployed Off West Coast of France
The pilot project undersea Marine e-Data Observatory Network (MeDON) was successfully installed in June in the Iroise Natural Marine Park, off the west coast of France. The observatory comprises 2.5 kilometers of cable, linking high-definition cameras, acoustic arrays and instrument nodes. The cable has a supply of 440 volts, which is stepped down to 12 volts to power the instruments.

Scientists from the French Research Institute for Exploration of the Sea (IFREMER) and the École Nationale Supériere de Techniques Avancées, Bretgagne (ENSTA, Brittany) will monitor the cameras and acoustic arrays to obtain images and sounds of dolphins and other marine life against a background of fishing and boating activities in the marine park.

Software is being developed to identify sound-producing creatures, including clams and whales. Having baseline acoustic data will inform future decisions regarding acceptable noise levels in coastal waters, ensuring minimal disturbance to marine mammals and complying with European Union standards of marine environmental quality.

MeDON will gather data on temperature, salinity, fluorescence, turbidity and oxygen levels to aid the understanding of local conditions and how they vary annually and with the seasons, as well as the effect of climate change and water- and land-based human activities.

MeDON is presently a three-year project, but the cable and instruments will stay in place so scientists can continue to collect data for an additional 12 months.

A second observatory on the U.K. side of the Channel and a cross-channel observatory to link the two are future possibilities.


Forereef Coral Found to be Most Vulnerable to Global Warming
Marine scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) have linked the decline in growth of Caribbean forereef corals to long-term trends in seawater temperature. The research was conducted on the Meso­american Barrier Reef System in Belize, and the results were published in July in Nature Climate Change.

In February 2009, researchers extracted 13 core samples from massive starlet corals on the reef and measured the thickness of their annual growth bands to estimate growth rate trends over the last 100 years. They found a decline in skeletal growth in corals closest to the open ocean, with growth in corals from the nearshore and the backreef relatively unchanged.

The scientists gathered sea surface temperatures for the study site from 1982 to 2008 from NOAA’s database. They compared them with seawater temperatures from temperature loggers installed at the study site in 2002.

Historically, corals in the area closest to the open ocean have seen cooler and more stable seawater temperatures, while those located closest to the shore and behind the reef crest have experienced warmer and more variable seawater temperatures. Since 1982, the average summer sea surface temperature has been increasing in all three reef zones.

Skeletal growth declined from 1982 to 2008 in the zone closest to the open ocean, while coral growth rates remained relatively stable over that same period in the other two reef zones. This suggests forereef corals may be most vulnerable to global warming.

The researchers collected additional coral core samples this summer across the entire reef system for further study.


OOI’s Regional Scale Node Network Set for Installation
The installation of the primary nodes for the Ocean Observatories Initiative’s (OOI) Regional Scale Nodes (RSN) cabled network is scheduled for completion this summer.The nodes will be the seven main connection points for power and communications. Installation of the first node was scheduled for July, and the last node is scheduled for August.

The RSN will be the first U.S. regional cabled observatory, establishing an interactive network of sensors, instruments and moorings connected by 900 kilometers of electro-optical cable.

L3-MariPro (Goleta, California), TE SubCom (Morristown, New Jersey), the University of Washington and the Consortium for Ocean Leadership are collaborating on node installation.

The infrastructure is designed to operate continuously for 25 years and is scheduled to become operational in 2014.

The RSN cables extend to two main study sites: Hydrate Ridge, located at the base of the Oregon continental margin approximately 120 kilometers southwest of Pacific City, Oregon, and Axial Seamount, located 500 kilometers west on the Juan de Fuca Ridge.

The cables also will serve the OOI’s Coastal Scale Nodes Oregon Line at the Endurance Array site. Two primary nodes will be installed at Hydrate Ridge, two at Axial Seamount, two on the Endurance Line and one in the middle of the Juan de Fuca plate.

Once connected to the cable, each primary node will provide land-to-sea communication and supply instrument arrays up to 10 gigabits per second of communication bandwidth and 8 kilowatts of power.

Data will be collected from the surface to the seafloor, transmitted by cable and made publicly available in near real time via the Internet.


CSIRO, NOAA Sign Agreements for Collaboration
Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and NOAA signed in July a series of agreements designed to facilitate ongoing collaboration between the two organizations and to provide a forum for discussions about broadening cooperation and emerging issues and opportunities.

The agreements build on a memorandum of understanding signed in February 2010. They cover research on the El Niño Southern Oscillation phenomenon, ocean observations and climate variability across the Pacific, the Southern Hemisphere regional carbon cycle and ocean acidification, ecosystem-based management of marine resources, and initiatives to promote scientific exchanges and collaborative workshops.

CSIRO has collaborated previously with NOAA through CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research and the CSIRO Wealth from Oceans Flagship, including research voyages, ocean monitoring programs and global atmospheric sampling of greenhouse gases.



2013:  JAN | FEB | MARCH | APRIL | MAY | JUNE | JULY | AUG | SEPT | OCT | NOV | DEC
2012:  JAN | FEB | MARCH | APRIL | MAY | JUNE | JULY | AUG | SEPT | OCT | NOV | DEC

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