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Environment

NOAA Monitoring Ocean Acidity Levels in Prince William Sound

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The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration is teaming up with other environmental organizations to use new tools to study melting glaciers in Alaska’s Prince William Sound.  KDLG’s Thea Card has more.

NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, the University of Alaska and the Alaska Ocean Observing System are working together to look at ocean acidification in Alaska’s waters.  Ocean acidification is the process of ocean water becoming more acidic as a result of absorbing almost one third of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. 

Oceanographer at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory Jeremy Mathis says this process can have a detrimental effect on sea life.

“We are concerned about ocean acidification because we don’t know what impact it’s going to have to food supply and to food securities. And in places like Alaska where the fishing income and even subsistence are so vital especially in places like Dillingham we are very concerned about the disruption that acidification could cause in our more important fisheries.”

Research Associate at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Wiley Evans says NOAA has been monitoring acidification since 2008 in Alaska.  He says this specific project began in May.   

“And we’re using a glacier tour vessel that sails out of Whittier and they sail up to Surprise Glacier every day. We’ve put equipment on their vessel and they’re monitoring the glacier base as it enters the ocean.”

Mathis says the data NOAA gets back from the samples will help them understand what species are at risk, not just in Prince William Sound but all throughout the Gulf of Alaska.