Currently there are a multitude of sparsely measured parameters that nonetheless provide important information about the state of the ocean. What if these data were no longer scarce but as abundant as those used in our daily weather forecasts? Our goal is to someday make checking in on the health of the ocean as easy as checking the local weather.
SOpHIE represents the first step in providing rich global datasets to address historically sparse oceanographic data. In the current context, we are introducing a simple interface through which users can engage with the issue of ocean acidification in an intuitive way.
Putting thousands of coastal sites around the world within easy reach of your Android device, SOpHIE empowers users to monitor the locations that matter to them. Receive up-to-date estimates of parameters associated with changing ocean acidification; quickly gauge a location's latest acidification status with simple red-green "health" icons; explore nearby locations on a familiar map interface; or discover new locations via an alerts feed (1).
Innovation and Data:
Using machine learning, SOpHIE bridges the gap between the sparse in-situ ocean acidification data and abundant high resolution satellite data currently available, thereby gaining near global coverage of the surface oceans and weekly updates (2) to our data.
Our method takes modern in-situ measurements of ocean acidification parameters from the Ocean Carbon and Acidification Data Portal and World Ocean Database (3). We also utilize the 2005 Takahashi monthly climatologies (4) for these parameters as well as for carbonate saturation states. Then we combine these with satellite observations of sea surface temperature and ocean color from the MODIS Aqua mission.
The result is a 9 km resolution global dataset of ocean acidification parameters continuous from 2002 to the present. Select data from this project will be made available to the public via SOpHIE.
The two parameters selected for monitoring, pH and aragonite saturation state (5), are key metrics for understanding the effects of ocean acidification on both water chemistry and biology. pH is already a well-known term to the general public as a measure of acidity. Aragonite saturation state grants insights into stress on sea life, such as corals, that build their shells from constituents in the water.
SOpHIE takes a multi-factor approach to assessing the relative health of our coastal waters and delivers these statistically significant metrics of ocean acidification directly to the hands of individual stakeholders. In this manner, SOpHIE has the power to engage coastal residents, municipal and state governments, business owners, and nonprofit organizations, facilitating further discussion and awareness of the state of our oceans.
Beyond public engagement, SOpHIE provides added value as a tool for stakeholders that are economically invested in the continued health of our oceans. Global fisheries and coastal tourism each represent tens of billions of dollars to the world economy. If even a tiny fraction of this total is adversely affected by anticipated changes to ocean carbon chemistry it could represent a significant impact to the livelihoods of many people.
Coral reefs and the people who rely on them are especially susceptible due to the sensitivity of the ecosystem and the lack of alternative employment outside of fishing and ecotourism. Developing nations, small businesses, and individuals alike need a method of pinpointing problem areas as they arise, to better manage their limited resources and ability to respond.
This is where SOpHIE comes in.
Whether the user is engaged in aquaculture, fishing, tourism, coastal monitoring, or is just a concerned citizen, they will be able to know with statistical significance if a site that matters to them is at risk from ocean acidification.
(1) The alerts feed is actively under development and will undergo significant changes as we continue to refine our global dataset. Thousands of reef sites still need to be introduced into SOpHIE’s database.
(2) Daily updates for many sites should be technically feasible, so this is also a refinement under investigation. Currently there is about a 20-day lag time using 8-day averaged satellite data.
(3) Links to data repositories:
Ocean Carbon Acidification Data Portalhttps://www.nodc.noaa.gov/oceanacidification/stewardship/data_portal.html
World Ocean Databasehttps://www.nodc.noaa.gov/OC5/WOD/pr_wod.html
(4) Climatology data
Takahashi monthly climatologieshttp://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/res/pi/CO2/carbondioxide/pages/global_ph.html
(5) More ocean acidification parameters (e.g. total alkalinity, pCO2, dissolved inorganic carbon, calcite saturation) will likely be included in a future update.