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Oceanographic Monitoring

Brian Hunt
University of British Columbia
Hakai Research Associate, Biological Oceanographer
Jennifer Jackson
Hakai Science
Wiley Evans
Hakai Science
Program Summary

The Hakai Oceanography Program seeks to provide fundamental, year-round, long-term physical, chemical, and biological measurements of ocean conditions on the British Columbia coast. 

Program Description

Oceanography samplingThe ocean is fundamentally tied to British Columbia’s coastal ecosystems, moderating its climate while providing habitat, nourishment and passageway for numerous species from microbes to humans. Monitoring ocean conditions therefore gives us a finger on the pulse of an essential driving force behind BC’s coastal ecosystem processes. The Hakai Institute uses its field stations as ideal platforms for this purpose. Through year-round operations we aim to provide measurements of the physical, chemical, and biological variables fundamental to essential oceanographic and food web processes. 

Core Variables

  • In situ profiles with a CTD (Conductivity, temperature, depth probe), harnessed with sensors to measure turbidity, fluorescence, photosynthetically active radiation and dissolved oxygen
  • Nutrients (nitrate, silicate & phosphate)
  • Phytoplankton biomass
  • Zooplankton abundance, biomass, and community composition
  • Stable carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios as food web tracers
  • pCO2, total CO2, aragonite saturation state, and other metrics of ocean acidification

Understanding ocean dynamics in space and time

In the short-term, the data collected tell us about important seasonal processes such as the timing of the phytoplankton bloom, the occurrence of summer upwelling that resupplies nutrients to our coastal waters, and the contribution of terrestrial runoff to marine food webs. In the long-term, the data collected will help us to detect climate driven changes in, e.g., ocean temperature and the timing and intensity of seasonal processes such as upwelling.

Oceanography graph

Seasonal cycle of phytoplankton biomass (un-calibrated chl-a) at Pruth Station, Calvert Island, showing a 3 week difference in bloom timing between 2013 and 2014.

Of particular interest to us is what drives the composition, biomass and nutritional quality of the base of the food web, the microscopic phytoplankton and zooplankton that support the animals we are more familiar with, including herring, salmon, seals and whales. An important part of our research is understanding how these animals higher up the food chain are impacted by plankton dynamics, mediated by changing ocean/climatic conditions.

Program Footprint

Click the arrow on the top left to view legend. Right click on station points to view metadata.

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