SEATTLE >> A new research tool launched this week by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is allowing scientists to better track changes in ocean chemistry along the U.S. West Coast.
The tool provides real-time ocean acidification data along the coast and in some protected bays. It captures data from a couple of dozen sensors installed at shellfish farms and hatcheries and other monitoring sites in Oregon, Washington, California, Alaska and Hawaii.
University of Washington oceanographer Jan Newton, who led the collaborative effort, said the information can help shellfish growers make crucial decisions about when and how to grow shellfish.
“That’s a really big thing, to enable shellfish growers to have better information so they can adapt to ocean acidification,” Newton said Friday.
The website data tool also serves as an early warning system about ocean acidification.
Acidification is caused when oceans absorb carbon-dioxide emissions, mostly from the atmosphere. Research has shown souring seas have damaged certain marine organism such as oysters and corals.
“That’s really powerful,” Newton said, adding that federal, tribal and state governments, private companies, nonprofit organizations and others have combined forces to monitor ocean acidification.
The data will come from a number of sensors installed at sites, including the Seattle Aquarium, the Alutiiq Pride Shellfish Hatchery in Alaska, Hog Island Oyster Co. in Central California and the Whiskey Creek Shellfish hatchery in Oregon.