Buoys Assist BIOS’s Ocean Acidification Project

February 12, 2011

Two new buoys have been deployed around Bermuda to contribute data to BIOS’s Bermuda Ocean Acidification and Coral reef Investigation [BEACON] project. The buoys are fitted with instrumentation which will measure in situ seawater temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, chlorophyll, pCO2 and pH every three hours.

In early December BIOS researchers deployed the buoys at Crescent and Hog Reefs. The technology has been developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory for studies of coastal air-sea carbon exchange. The collaboration is part of a global network of carbon dioxide and ocean acidification time-series observations. By cross-referencing the information from the buoys with BIOS’ research on coral calcification rates at Hog and Crescent reefs, it will be possible to develop a better idea of how corals are responding to physical and chemical changes in the environment.


BEACON is a relatively new project for BIOS. It seeks to record and analyse the effect of ocean acidification on corals at a range of spatial and temporal scales. The project, which received generous seed-funding from the US National Science Foundation, is ambitious but potentially far-reaching. The information and observations that are gained from this project will serve as important guidelines on how coral reefs in Bermuda and elsewhere may respond to ocean acidification.

Dr. Andreas Andersson, Principal Investigator of the BEACON project, said “The seriousness of the potential threat of ocean acidification is only recently being recognised. Since 1983, research at BIOS has recorded an increase in carbon dioxide content in the surface ocean off Bermuda, consequently changing the acid-base balance in favour of increasing acidity. This is the longest ocean acidification record found anywhere.”

“It is important for us to understand how the environment already has been affected by these changes, how it will be affected in the future, and how we can mitigate against the potential negative effects. BEACON aims to improve our understanding of the potential consequences of ocean acidification to coral reef ecosystems including the effects on individual marine organisms, biogeochemical processes, and the cycling of carbon through coral reefs. Nevertheless, the data gained from this new time-series will provide many other stakeholders with important information in order to monitor the health of the Bermuda marine environment.”

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Category: All, Environment