Current Projects

Development of a Carbon Dioxide Seaglider for ocean acidification monitoring and inorganic carbon process studies

Funded through the National Oceanographic Partnership Program by the National Science Foundation, in collaboration with Kongsberg Underwater Technology Inc. and Alutiiq Pride Shellfish Hatchery

September 2018 – September 2021

Co-PI: Andrew McDonnell (UAF)

The oceanic reservoir of carbon dioxide is large, dynamic, spatially variable, and of critical importance to Earth’s climate, biogeochemical cycles, and the health of marine ecosystems. At present, the partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2) is vastly undersampled throughout the oceans. This is due to conventional sampling approaches that rely primarily on discrete water sample collections from dedicated research cruises, underway measurements of surface ocean properties from transiting vessels, or time series measurements from in situ sensors on fixed moorings. This sparse sampling coverage greatly limits the understanding of the spatial and temporal variability of carbon dioxide, the processes that control its cycling, and how its accumulation in the ocean impacts marine life via ocean acidification. In a collaborative effort between the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Kongsberg Underwater Technology, we are developing an autonomous Carbon Dioxide Seaglider by integrating the Kongsberg CONTROS HydroC CO2 sensor into Kongsberg’s autonomous coastal underwater Seaglider C2. For the first time, the new Carbon Dioxide Seaglider provides the ability to autonomously conduct high-resolution and adaptively sampled, high quality pCO2 measurements throughout the water column and across a large range of spatial and temporal scales. First Carbon Dioxide Seaglider sea trials will happen in June 2019 in Pudget Sound and in August in the Gulf of Alaska. These initial trials will demonstrate the Carbon Dioxide Seaglider’s pCO2 sensing capabilities through large pCO2 gradients and in dependence of different sensor configurations and operational schemes as well as the glider platform’s capability of operating in the challenging glacially influenced coastal environment of the Gulf of Alaska. The planned 2020 missions will then build on lessons learned and improved mission and sampling design, power budget.

Unraveling the controls of inorganic carbon dynamics in the Gulf of Alaska with a regional three-dimensional biogeochemical model

Funded by the National Science Foundation.

August 2015 – August 2020

Co-PIs: Seth Danielson and Kate Hedstrom

This project will identify the dominant controls and patterns of high carbon dioxide environments in the northern Gulf of Alaska. The few available observations document a seasonal manifestation of aragonite undersaturation in subsurface waters on this continental shelf. Particularly if it expands in time and space, such undersaturation could engender detrimental consequences for carbon dioxide sensitive organisms and potentially lead to altered food web structures, ultimately imparting large ecosystem and socio-economic consequences. However, the currently limited spatial and temporal data coverage precludes a detailed conceptual understanding of the physical and biological mechanisms controlling the local carbon dynamics and thus impedes our ability to anticipate and mitigate future changes. We have just recently finished a 33 year-long regional biogeochemical hindcast simulation for the Gulf of Alaska. The model uses explicit forcing of coastal freshwater discharges, and modeled iron limitation. The model suggests more sustained and widespread aragonite undersaturation across the shelf in 2013 compared to 1980. The decreasing long-term trend of the aragonite saturation state in coastal regions is driven by both uptake of atmospheric CO2 and increased freshwater input. We will use neural networks, dye tracers and Lagrangian floats to detangle the complex interplay of mechanisms that drive aragonite undersaturation in the study region.

Natural and anthropogenic controls on the inorganic carbon dynamics in the Chukchi Sea

Funded by the National Science Foundation

August 2016 – August 2020

Co-PIs: Seth Danielson (UAF), Kate Hedstrom (UAF), and Scott Doney (UVA)

Frequent but poorly studied late-season mixing episodes on the Chukchi Shelf may be important drivers of the marine carbon budget and the intensity and duration of ocean acidification events as they alter the degree to which carbon is retained on the shelf, released to the atmosphere, or mobilized and transported into the Arctic Ocean. Little is known about these processes and the carbon dynamics in fall, winter and spring due to limited spatial and temporal data coverage in this remote and often inaccessible area. Here we utilize an ocean and ice circulation regional physical-biogeochemical numerical model to study Chukchi Sea carbon dynamics and ocean acidification throughout the year. We will perform Hindcasts (1980-present) that will be forced by meteorological reanalysis products and will account for lateral transport from the Bering Sea and central Arctic as well as input of organic and inorganic carbon from rivers and sea-ice melt water.

Our project will improve the conceptual understanding of the controlling forces that mediate ocean acidification and carbon fluxes in the Chukchi Sea and in the Arctic Ocean. It will also give us insights into how ocean acidification may affect the lower trophic ecosystem structure. Research products will include more robust assessments of: regional ocean carbon uptake and aragonite undersaturation in the Chukchi Sea, factoring in synoptic storm forcing and mesoscale circulation; the impact of global climate variability and trends on the Chukchi Sea CO2 system; the influence of the Chukchi Sea on the larger-scale Arctic Ocean CO2 and biogeochemical system; and the modeled ecosystem structure in a high- CO2 world. An improved ability to anticipate future changes to the carbon dynamics, chemical habitats of organisms, and lower trophic ecosystem structure is critical in an area like the Chukchi Sea that is undergoing rapid transformations due to unprecedented warming temperatures, ocean acidification, extensive sea-ice loss, increases in storm frequency/magnitude, elevated rates of coastal erosion, increasing inputs of terrestrial organic matter, exploration and development of offshore energy resources, and increased ship traffic.C

The Chukchi Sea Ecosystem Observatory

Funded by the North Pacific Research Board (Long Term Monitoring Program) and the Alaska Ocean Observatory System.

The HauriLab is responsible for the inorganic carbon measurements on the observatory. It is a joint effort between variety of investigators, institutions, and funding agencies to maintain a year-round moored ecosystem observatory in the NE Chukchi Sea.


The Gulf of Alaska Ecosystem Observatory

Funded by the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust

The HauriLab is responsible for the inorganic carbon measurements on the observatory. It is a joint effort between a variety of investigators and institutions to maintain a year-round moored ecosystem observatory in the Gulf of Alaska. The first deployment will take place in summer 2019.

Northern Gulf of Alaska Longterm Ecological Research (NGA-LTER)

Funded by the National Science Foundation.

The Gulf of Alaska Large Marine Ecosystem (GOA-LME) is naturally low in carbonate ion concentrations due to the increased solubility of CO2 at low temperatures, ocean mixing patterns and unique riverine and glacial inputs . For these reasons, seawater saturation states with respect to aragonite and calcite are typically lower here than in temperate and tropical regions.  The GOA’s large spatial and temporal variability in inorganic carbon chemistry is driven by a multitude of physical and biogeochemical processes such as phytoplankton blooms and remineralization, freshwater inputs, downwelling, on-shelf intrusion of deep water, tidal mixing, and eddies. Many of these processes are sensitive to rising CO2 and climate change.

The HauriLab uses both in situ water samples and a regional model to study and understand ocean acidification and climate change related long-term changes to the inorganic carbon system and ecosystem. This is especially important because the GOA-LME is home to highly productive commercial and subsistence fisheries including salmon, pollock, crab, Pacific cod, halibut, mollusks and other shellfish.  Some of these abundant living marine resources are likely to be vulnerable to the effects of ocean acidification.  

This site is a member of the U.S. LTER Network.

Members of the Network are accessible through the LTER Site Portal.

Fire and Ice: Navigating variability in boreal wildfire regimes and subarctic coastal ecosystems

Funded by the National Science Foundation through Alaska EPSCoR.

The Coastal Margins Team uses physical and chemical conditions along a gradient of glacial to non-glacial coastal waters to study biological responses to climate-induced changes.

The HauriLab is part of the Coastal Margins Team and focuses on the influence of freshwater influences on the coastal inorganic carbon and nutrients dynamics.

The Fire and Ice Project is the newest Alaska EPSCoR project.

Recent Projects

Carbon Glider Development

Funded by the Coastal Marine Institute and Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management.

The final report is available HERE.