The Science

From July 18 through August 21, NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown will execute the Gulf of Mexico Ecosystems and Carbon Cruise (GOMECC-3). This AOML-lead survey represents an important element of the OAP supported National Ocean Acidification Observing Network called for under the Federal Ocean Acidification Research And Monitoring Act of 2009 to document ocean acidification impacts to US living marine resources. The cruise will provide full coverage of the Gulf of Mexico inclusive of Mexican waters for the first time. A transdisciplinary team of scientists and researchers will include participants from the US, Mexico, and Cuba.

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Vulnerability trifecta: sensitivity, environment and human dimensions.

This research cruise is just one part of a larger effort supported by the NOAA Ocean Acidification Program to better understand how ocean chemistry along all the U.S. coasts is changing in response to ocean acidification and where marine organisms may be at greatest risk.

By collecting and analyzing water samples in near shore and deeper waters, scientists will better understand what drives the process of ocean acidification in different areas of the coastal shelf of the Gulf of Mexico.

Based on previous GOMECC cruises, the study region is bounded by the Loop Current, Florida Current, and Gulf Stream System. These waters serve as end-members in coastal mixing dynamics and act as a conduit for northward movement of chemical constituents that originate from the adjacent coastal areas and gyres.

The GOMECC-3 cruise track will begin in Key West, Florida, and consists of 11 transects with a total of 107 sampling stations. Four of these stations will be sampled in collaboration with the National Park Service. Additionally, samples will be collected at two National Marine Sanctuaries.

CTD instrument: 24 niskin bottles, referred to as a rosette collect water samples for analysis

A rosette equipped with twenty-four bottle rosettes will be deployed to collect water samples at each station, which will be analyzed for salinity, oxygen, nutrients, dissolved organic carbon, total alkalinity, pH, partial pressure of CO2, dissolved organic matter, ocean color to verify satellite imaging and microplankton community distributions. Net tows will be conducted at select stations to collect samples of icthyoplankton (fish eggs and larvae) and pteropods, to characterize their distribution in the GOM.