How Do Scientists Study Hypoxia?

The emergence and evolution of hypoxia in the Pacific northwest over the past 10 years has spurred researchers from multiple organizations to increase their monitoring efforts in order to better understand how changes in water chemistry can affect marine ecosystems, fisheries, and the men and women who make a living from these resources.

Monitoring and Evaluation

Dr. Hal Weeks deploying an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife robotic submersible (remotely operated vehicle: ROV) to survey the effects of low oxygen zones along the Oregon coast. 
Photographer: Jane Lubchenco

Scientists at OSU and their partners work together to study and monitor the conditions off the coast throughout the year. This work involves extensive shipboard sampling, testing the water for oxygen levels and other changes in the ecosystem. ODFW uses a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) that allows scientists to view the bottom of the sea, which is critical for assessing biological impacts.

Off the Oregon coast, researchers are currently tracking the position and duration of the low-oxygen water, developing models to help understand and predict its occurrence, testing new instruments designed to provide near-real time measurements of ocean conditions, and evaluating the likely long-term impacts of the hypoxia.


 Collaboration

Research on hypoxic zones in the Pacific Northwest requires collaboration between many partners, including the PISCO team, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences (COAS) at OSU, Oregon Sea Grant, the Oregon Coastal Ocean Observing System (OrCOOS), the Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems (NANOOS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).


 Tools and Technology

The study of hypoxia requires understanding the changes in ocean conditions and the ecological impacts of these changes.  Here are some examples how researchers are studying ocean condition changes:

Autonomous Gliders

Autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV) that maintain perform transects off the central Oregon Coast.  The platform operates by 'flying' through the water column and collecting profile data through wide swaths of ocean.  Visit the Oregon State Glider Blog for more information.

 

CTD Ship-based CTD (Conductivity, Temperature, Depth/Dissolved Oxygen) profiling packages are deployed from scientific vessels and used all over the world.
Bottom Landers Platforms designed to sit on the ocean floor.  Sensors can be attached at various locations along a float line to provide coarse profile data.  An example is the SH70 MILOCO site in Oregon's coastal ocean (MILOCO Website).  
Moored Buoys Floating scientific platforms that are moored at a precise location in the ocean.  Can provide atmospheric and coarse ocean profile data.  Example is the NANOOS NH10 mooring (National Data Buoy Center).
ROVs 'Remotely Operated Vehicle.'  Example is the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife ROV used for habitat surveys (ODFW Marine Habitat Project)  
Crab Pots Crab pots have recently been used for deploying temperature and oxygen sensors as part of the Oregon Fishermen in Ocean Observing Research Program (OrFIOOR).  Data can be collected from surface waters by sensors attached to the buoy and from bottom waters with sensors attached to the pot. (OrFIOOR Website)

 

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