Fundamental changes in seawater chemistry are occurring throughout the world’s oceans. The ocean absorbs nearly 30% of the CO2 we release into the atmosphere every year, so as atmospheric CO2 levels increase, so do the levels in the ocean. Initially, many scientists focused on the benefits of the ocean removing this greenhouse gas from the atmosphere. However, decades of ocean observations now show that there is also a downside — the CO2 absorbed by the ocean is changing the chemistry of the seawater, a process called ocean acidification.
The mission of the Carbon Program at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) is to understand the changing chemistry of the oceans. Our observations of key biogeochemical parameters support NOAA’s overall efforts to predict how marine ecosystems will respond and to develop management strategies for adapting to the consequences of ocean acidification.
Oceanographers in our group have been studying how CO2 emissions affect the ocean system for more than three decades and continue to monitor ocean acidification in all the world’s oceans from coral reef ecosystems to deep North Pacific waters. Our group collects several types of carbon measurements throughout the world’s oceans. We participate in large-scale research cruises across ocean basins and along coastlines at regular intervals to study how ocean chemistry is changing through space and time. We also make measurements of the partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) and pH in the surface water of the world’s oceans using automated analytical systems on ships of opportunity, moorings, and other autonomous platforms. We also develop and test new autonomous sensing technology in partnership with PMEL engineers. Read more about our work here: www.pmel.noaa.gov/co2.
The hypothesis that drives much of our research is that the rates and magnitude of ocean carbon uptake and ocean acidification vary across time and space as a consequence of local and regional geochemical, hydrological, and biological processes. We are seeking an intern to use our existing data streams and/or assist in collection of new data to address this topic. Projects can vary from regionally-specific to global analyses. Specific project scope will depend on the skills and interests of the intern and how those align with our currently-funded research.
Duties and responsibilities: The specific duties and responsibilities for the interns will depend on the intern’s experience, background, and interest in particular elements of our research. At a minimum, the students will participate in ocean carbon data analysis.