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NOAA and partners launch buoy to track changing coastal chemistry in Chesapeake Bay
Monica Allen

NOAA and partners launch buoy to track changing coastal chemistry in Chesapeake Bay

NOAA and partners launched a new buoy this week at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay to monitor how increasing concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide and increase ocean acidification impact the bay and its valuable shellfish.

Carbon dioxide concentrations fluctuate greatly in the Chesapeake Bay, the nation’s largest estuary, which receives fresh water carried by more than 150 rivers and streams in the bay’s six-state watershed. In carbon dioxide-rich coastal waters, research has shown that young shellfish such as oysters can have difficulty growing and surviving.

A new buoy launched by NOAA and several partners is the first to monitor the changing chemistry of Chesapeake Bay caused by rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Ocean acidification could impact the growth and productivity of the bay's oysters, which are a $43 million fishery.

Measurements from sensors on the new buoy will help identify areas of the bay that may be particularly vulnerable to increased absorption of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, known as ocean acidification. The sensors will also help boost our understanding of how large amounts of freshwater carrying fertilizer and other nutrients into the bay may exacerbate coastal acidification.

This is the first buoy measuring changes in ocean acidification in Chesapeake Bay.

“Although ocean or coastal acidification does not seem to be a primary concern for oyster aquaculture in this region right now, this newly deployed buoy will supply models with the needed information to recognize potential areas of vulnerability, now and in the future,” said Dr. Jeremy Testa, professor at University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.

The goal of this partnership between NOAA Ocean Acidification Program (OAP), NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, U.S. IOOS Mid-Atlantic Regional Association Coastal Ocean Observing System, and the University of Delaware is to produce high quality data and models to monitor acidification in the Chesapeake Bay. The new buoy will be located beside the First Landing Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System site to maximize collaboration with existing research and observations.

For more information, contact Monica Allen with NOAA Communications at monica.allen@noaa.gov or 301-734-1123.

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