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deploying floats from ship
Deploying profiling floats. (Photo credit: Hilary Palevsky)

To address gaps in ocean data and modeling efforts and better understand ocean carbon, oxygen and heat, oceanographers at the University of Hawaiʻi Mānoa were awarded $4.5 million from the nonprofit Schmidt Sciences. They are team members on two of five projects selected by Schmidt Sciences and the Schmidt Ocean Institute to join the Ocean Biogeochemistry Virtual Institute (OBVI).

The five projects will form the inaugural membership of OBVI, which has committed $45 million over the next five years. The research will address the interlinked questions of how rapidly the ocean is gaining heat and carbon while losing oxygen, and the resilience of marine ecosystems in a rapidly warming world.

deploying video recorder from ship
Deploying the video plankton recorder. (Photo credit: Kelsey Maloney)

“This was a competitive search for the best science on the planet and oceanographers at the UH Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology came to play!” said Dave Karl, director of the Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education in SOEST and member of the OBVI advisory board.

SUBSEA project $3.8M

The SUBSEA project will examine how marine organisms in the ocean’s twilight zone—a dim layer roughly 200–500 feet below the ocean’s surface—alter the absorption and circulation of carbon dioxide in ocean gyres (large, circular currents) from the North Pacific to the South Atlantic.

“Oceanographers are having a tough time predicting how life in ocean gyres will respond to climate change, but we know nutrients will play a deciding role,” said Nick Hawco, assistant professor of oceanography and UH Mānoa project lead. “Compared to the gyres in the Southern hemisphere, the North Pacific receives a larger supply of nutrients from the atmosphere. This is an amazing opportunity to compare and contrast how the ocean gyres adjust to changes in nutrient supply that we might see in the future.”

The project team includes UH Mānoa Professor of oceanography Angelicque White, and Benedetto Barone, a UH research oceanographer.

InMOS project $700K

Oceans help mitigate climate change by absorbing heat and carbon, but are experiencing a triple threat from warming, decreasing oxygen, and increasing acidification that may cause harm to marine ecosystems. The second project, InMOS will use artificial intelligence and machine learning to develop estimates of sources and sinks of ocean heat, carbon and oxygen for the past 35 years. Project members aim to both reduce uncertainties in these budgets and understand the physical and biogeochemical processes affecting these interlinked cycles.

Seth Bushinsky, UH Mānoa assistant professor of oceanography and InMOS project team member will lead the effort to develop new marine observational products based on large data sets of ocean carbon, oxygen and nutrient measurements.

For more information, see SOEST’s website.

–By Marcie Grabowski

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