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.