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Discovery and exploration: Ocean Observatories Initiative takes shape under the oceans By brett davis O ver the past decade, scientists “It’s a complicated suite of things that hap- below a threshold, and suddenly you have and fishermen off the coasts of pen, but it’s not easy to predict, and so unusual hypoxic conditions that kill fish and Oregon and Washington have noted a what we think we now know is that rela- crabs, and yet it’s not local. It’s caused by puzzling influx of oxygen-deficient water, tively lower oxygen water from the central something that’s 5,000 kilometers away,” which can kill fish and crabs and harm the North Pacific actually is advected through says Timothy Cowles, the vice president and livelihoods of those who depend on them. large-scale ocean processes. [It] gets closer director for Ocean Observing Programs at to the coastline, the normal … upwelling the Consortium for Ocean Leadership. The problem wasn’t local pollution; instead, it involved masses of water moving in from the central North Pacific, losing oxygen along the way due to natural processes. process brings that slightly lower-than-normal oxygen-containing water, the normal processes on the shelf of upwelling and reduction of organic matter depletes that The consortium is heading up a new way of studying such issues, which is being created off the coasts of the United States, Greenland, Brazil and Chile. It involves an Deploying a buoy that will be part of the OOI. All images courtesy the Consortium for Ocean Leadership. Mission Critical • Winter 2011 7

Unmanned Systems Mission Critical - Winter 2011

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