The goal of the proposed study is to establish an Arctic Observing Network (AON) for sea surface partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) and pH in the perennially ice-covered portion of the Arctic Ocean. The carbon cycle is of particular concern in the Arctic because it is unknown how carbon sources and sinks will change in response to warming and the reduction of summer sea ice cover, and whether these changes will lead to increased greenhouse gas accumulation in the atmosphere. Furthermore, the penetration of anthropogenic CO2 into the Arctic Ocean is leading to acidification with potentially serious consequences for organisms. Little is known about pCO2 and the inorganic carbon cycle in the central Arctic Ocean because most measurement programs to date have focused on the Arctic shelves during the accessible summer period. The investigators propose to use an existing component of the Arctic Observing Network, the Ice-Tethered Profilers (ITP), as platforms for deployment of in situ pCO2 and pH sensors. ITPs are automated profiling systems distributed throughout the perennial Arctic ice pack that telemeter data back to shore: 44 ITPs have been deployed since 2004 and the project is currently slated to continue through 2013. In the proposed work, a total of 6 ITPs will be equipped with CO2 sensors and four of these will also have pH sensors. The sensors will be fixed on the ITP cable ~2-4 m below the ice. Each unit will include additional sensors for dissolved O2, salinity, and photosynthetically available radiation (and in some cases chlorophyll-a fluorescence) and will be capable of making 12 measurements per day for at least one year. These data, available in near real-time on the ITP web site (, will lead to a better understanding of the Arctic Ocean's role in regulating greenhouse gases and how the ecology of the Arctic will change with warming and acidification. The investigators will also engage in outreach programs including public presentations, podcasts, and school visits. A portion of the budget is also dedicated to the development of a climate-change/ocean acidification exhibit to be displayed in the University of Montana?s science museum. The exhibit will reside at the museum for three months, then visit over 15 rural and tribal communities annually over a three year period. Undergraduate students will be recruited to assist with the sensor testing and data analysis, gaining a higher level of technical knowledge than possible through a traditional degree program.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Polar Programs (PLR)
Standard Grant (Standard)
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Henrietta N. Edmonds
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University of Montana
United States
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