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Discovery and exploration: Ocean Observatories Initiative takes shape under the oceans By brett davis


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


Unmanned Systems Mission Critical - Winter 2011