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Instrumentation and Methods for Identifying Changes in Arctic Ocean Acidification


Shown is a tank in the cold lab where sensors for measuring seawater pH and CO2 (encased by the black tube) are being tested and calibrated for Arctic conditions. The tank is filled with seawater covered with young ice crystals. The insulation around the tank, and a heating pad at the bottom, ensures that the ice forms only from the top, as in the real ocean. Photo: Kyle Simpson, DFO.

Ocean acidification has the potential to substantially alter ecosystems in ways that are, as yet, unknown. The limited data available for the Canadian Arctic indicates that this region is particularly vulnerable to acidification—an increase in ocean acidity or declining pH (a measure of acidity) as atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) dissolves in surface waters, forming carbonic acid. To effectively predict regional and local impacts, the capacity to collect data in more places and year-round needs to be increased.

Available sensors for measuring seawater pH and CO2 have not been sufficiently tested under, or calibrated for, Arctic conditions. This project will implement a state-of-the art capacity within the Department for testing pH and CO2 sensors in a controlled laboratory environment under a full range of Arctic marine conditions. The results will inform the development of effective calibration and quality control protocols for real-time data produced from eventual deployments, facilitating more effective monitoring of acidification in Arctic Ocean waters.

Program Name

Aquatic Climate Change Adaptation Services Program (ACCASP)


Central Canada: Lake Winnipeg, Nelson River Drainage Basin

Principal Investigator(s)

Lisa Miller
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

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