Climate Change

Climate-driven changes in upwelling, ocean mixing, oxygen minimum zones, and nutrient cycling are likely to affect the year-to-year variation in ocean ecosystem processes. These changes will potentially impact marine life and the fundamental underpinnings of fisheries from shallow to deep-sea habitats. MBARI’s technical achievements and knowledge are transforming climate change research with novel methods and technologies.

Robot breaks record and reveals new climate data

MBARI’s Benthic Rover recently broke the world record for operating autonomously for one year and two days, and traveling a distance of 1.6 kilometers (about one mile) on the flat, muddy, abyssal seafloor at 4,000 meters (2.5 miles) depth. The Rover’s instruments detected several brief, two- to four-week events when nearly an entire year’s worth of chlorophyll-rich detritus landed on the seafloor. These events would have gone undetected without the long-term presence of the Benthic Rover, and showed that a much larger percentage of carbon than previously expected can sink rapidly from the surface into deeper water. These periodic events can now be factored into global climate change models.

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Deep-sea feasts tied to sea cucumber population booms

Mar 7, 2016 - The muddy abyssal plains are dark and cold and there’s usually not much for animals to eat. However, large pulses of food may reach the deep seafloor every decade or two. A recent paper shows that some sea cucumbers may experience huge population booms following these deep-sea “feasts.”
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Benthic Rover recovered after three years in the deep sea

The Benthic Rover slowly creeps along the seafloor, settles at a random study site for two to three days, and then moves along to the next site approximately ten meters away. The Rover was built to measure oxygen consumption of benthic, or seafloor, organisms as a way to understand the supply and demand of carbon in the ocean’s deepest waters.

Climate Change Projects

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Canadian Arctic 2016 Expedition

Last week a group of MBARI scientists and engineers, led by geologist Charlie Paull, returned to the Beaufort Sea on a Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker to study the Arctic seafloor.
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Respiration studies

The oxygen content of the entire world ocean is falling. To investigate the consequences of this largescale change, MBARI scientists are exploring a characteristic attribute of the oceanic water column in Monterey Bay called the oxygen minimum zone (OMZ).
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Sargasso Sea research

Sargassum macroalgal rafts in the Sargasso Sea are vital feeding and spawning grounds for pelagic fishes, seabirds, sea turtles and whales. How might changes in ocean conditions and Sargassum habitat impact rafting animals?
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Antarctic research

Global climate change is causing Antarctic ice shelves to shrink and split apart, yielding thousands of free-drifting icebergs in the nearby Weddell Sea. These floating islands of ice are having a major impact on the ecology and chemistry of the ocean around them, serving as “hotspots” for ocean life.
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Station M long-term time series

The Station M study is one of the most detailed investigations of any abyssal area in the world ocean. Over this 25-year study, we have continuously monitored the amount of sinking particulate matter through the benthic boundary layer.

Making an impact

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Exploration and Discovery

Exploration inevitably leads to discovery. MBARI is uniquely positioned to explore the deep-sea realm and its connections with the ocean surface. Easy access to Monterey Bay’s deep submarine canyon provides a natural laboratory for scientific research and engineering innovation.
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Climate Change

Climate-driven changes in upwelling, ocean mixing, oxygen minimum zones, and nutrient cycling are likely to affect the year-to-year variation in ocean ecosystem processes. These changes will potentially impact marine life and the fundamental underpinnings of fisheries from shallow to deep-sea habitats.
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Ocean Health

One of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation’s long-term goals it to restore the health and productivity of the world ocean, on which all live depends. MBARI research results have contributed to raising public awareness about the health and future of the ocean.