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06 December 2002                                      FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MBARI research highlights
AGU 2002 Fall Meeting

SAN FRANCISCO—Researchers from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) will present more than twenty talks and posters at the American Geophysical Union 2002 Fall Meeting in San Francisco. Their work spans a broad range of current topics in ocean sciences and engineering, from sea-bottom seismometers to strategies for mitigating global warming. A few of these topics are highlighted below. A complete list of MBARI abstracts is also available.

Iron in the ocean—
Catalyst for phytoplankton growth and climate change

Micrograms of iron can catalyze algal blooms in the upper ocean waters, influencing food webs and perhaps even global climate change, as the algae absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Sources of oceanic iron include wind-borne dust from land and sediment deposits on the seafloor. Several MBARI researchers will describe recent field experiments aimed at teasing out the role of iron in ocean productivity, ecosystem regulation, and climate change. Chase et al. show that the width of the continental shelf influences the amount of iron reaching upper waters due to upwelling, with significant effects on regional productivity. Johnson et al., Chavez et al., and Strutton et al. present early results from their experiments during the multi-institutional Southern Ocean Iron Experiment (SOFeX) in February 2002.

Z Chase, et al., The Influence of Shelf Geometry on the Supply of Iron and Manganese to Surface Waters in a Coastal Upwelling System, Sat AM 11:40, MCC 270, OS61D-11.

V A Elrod, et al., Iron in the MBARI Monterey Bay Time Series, Sun PM 1330, MCC Hall D, OS72B-0357.

P G Strutton, et al., The Impact of Iron-induced Phytoplankton Blooms on the Heat Budget of the Mixed Layer, Mon AM 0830, MCC Hall D, OS11A-0201.

F P Chavez, et al., Observations and models of iron fertilization in the Southern Ocean with emphasis on high nitrate low silicate waters, Sun AM 08:30, MCC 274, OS71F-03 INVITED.

K S Johnson et al., Open Ocean Iron Fertilization Experiments From IronEx-I Through SOFEX: What We Know and What We Still Need to Understand, Tue PM, 1645, MCC 274, OS22D-12 INVITED.   

K S Johnson et al., Iron and Ecosystem Response to Surface Ocean-Lower Atmosphere Interactions in the North Pacific Ocean Gyre, Sun AM 0830, MCC Hall D, A71C-0115 INVITED.

Ocean observatories—
Long-term measurements and cutting-edge science

Ocean observatories can include a broad range of remote oceanographic platforms, from autonomous underwater vehicles to sea-bottom seismic networks. Most are designed to provide continuous or at least periodic field data over a long time period. For example, data have been collected for the past 13 years by a set of moored buoys off Monterey Bay, providing new insight into this dynamic environment. Chavez, et al. summarize the results of these and other ocean observatory efforts in the Monterey Bay region. McGill, et al. describe the installation of the world’s first permanent seafloor broadband seismic station, a collaboration between MBARI and the University of California, Berkeley. This benthic observatory is located in Monterey Bay, 40 km from shore and 1000 meters below the sea surface.

F P Chavez, et al., Ocean Observatory efforts in and around Monterey Bay, California, 1930 to the present, Sun AM, 0830, MCC 274, OS71F-03.

P McGill, et al., Deployment of a Long-Term Broadband Seafloor Observatory in Monterey Bay, Sun AM, 0830, MCC Hall C, S71A-1049.

Injecting carbon dioxide into the deep sea
Field observations and experiments

To reduce the effects of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by human activities, it has been suggested that the gas could be pumped directly into the deep sea where it might be incorporated into seawater and eventually into sea-bed sediments. MBARI scientists and engineers are among the few researchers who have actually performed field experiments to determine the chemical and physical interactions between CO2, seawater, and marine sediments at oceanic depths. Their work indicates that such interactions are far more complex than expected. Peltzer et al. summarize MBARI’s work to date, including many surprising observations of unexpected behavior of liquid CO2 and CO2 hydrates. White, et al. describe the development and use of a laser Raman spectrometer in the deep sea to quantify these dynamic processes. This spectrometer has many other possible applications in submarine chemistry, geology, and benthic biology.

E T Peltzer, et al., Progress in Small-scale Studies of Direct Ocean Sequestration of Carbon Dioxide, Tue PM 1405, MCC 135, U22A-03.

S N White, et al., Development of a Laser Raman Spectrometer for In Situ Measurements in the Deep Ocean, Tue AM 0830, MCC Hall D, OS21B-0205.

Drinking from a fire hose
Organizing and visualizing large data sets and video libraries

One of the biggest challenges of the information age is finding meaningful information within gigabytes of data. This challenge is nowhere more acute than in the marine sciences where huge spatial and temporal data sets must be analyzed and visualized to extract trends and patterns. Similarly large scientific video libraries must be meticulously annotated and cataloged to provide a useful reference for future research. MBARI researchers describe several methods for processing large volumes and diverse types of information, a process that will become even more important as oceanic observatories are developed over the coming decade. Graybeal, et al. describe an ocean observatory data management system that can process and provide access to all kinds of data sets and data streams, not only from existing oceanographic platforms, but also from as-yet-unknown instruments and observatories. McCann shows how a simple web-based interface can allow users to visualize complex data in time and space, using open-standard software known as GeoVRML (Geographical Virtual Reality Modeling Language). Wilkin, et al. describe a flexible database and annotation system that allows users to search the more than 13,000 hours of video and data collected by MBARI’s remotely operated vehicles for useful scientific information (for example, a scientist can find all sightings of a specific animal in a specific depth range at a specific time of year).

J Graybeal, et al., Designing Extensible Data Management for Ocean Observatories, Platforms, and Devices, Sat AM 11:25, MCC 274, OS61C-11.

M P McCann, Using GeoVRML for Visual Dissemination of Oceanographic Data, Sat PM 1330, MCC Hall D, OS62B-0249.

D Wilkin, et al., Video data annotation, archiving, and access, Sat PM 1330, MCC Hall D, OS62B-0250.

D W Caress, D N Chayes, Processing, Archiving, and Disseminating Large Swath Mapping Datasets Using MB-System, Sat AM 10:05, MCC 274, OS61C-07.

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Media Contact: 
Debbie Meyer, AGU Press Room Dec. 6-10 (415) 905-1007
or at MBARI ( 831) 775-1807, pressroom@mbari.org