University of Alaska Fairbanks researchers, armed with a state capital budget allocation of $2.7 million, said June 8 they are expanding research on ocean acidification.
Jeremy Mathis, director of the UAF Ocean Acidification Research Center, made the announcement, calling the move "a tremendous opportunity to improve our understanding of a problem that could have far-reaching implications for our state.
"This infusion of funding will allow us to do things that we didn’t think were possible a couple of years ago," he said.
Mathis will use the new funding to build a network of ocean acidification buoys around the state to provide real-time monitoring of changing conditions throughout some of the state’s most sensitive coastal areas.
The project is to begin in July and Mathis said he plans to maintain the buoy network for at least four years.
The funding will be used to maintain existing buoys in the Gulf of Alaska outside of Resurrection Bay and in the Bering Sea west of Bristol Bay, plus new buoys in 2013 near Kodiak and in Southeast Alaska, between Juneau and Sitka.
The Alaska buoy network will be part of a larger operation along the west coast of North America and will involve partner institutions, including the NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Lab in Seattle.
Scientists will combine collected information with data from other research to develop a model to determine the current and future costs of ocean acidification. Mathis plans to work with scientists at NOAA fisheries labs in Kodiak and Newport, Ore., where researchers are studying the effects of ocean acidification on specific Alaska organisms like crab and Pollock.
The Alaska Marine Conservation Council and the UAF Marine Advisory Program were among those who organize support for the funds from the Legislature.