Beginning in December 1949, Ocean Station P (50°N, 145°W, depth 4220 meters) was occupied by a weathership operated through the U.S. Coast Guard by the U.S. Weather Bureau. In December 1950, a Canadian weathership began occupying the site and several years later, oceanographic measurements began to be routinely made. With the advent of the satellite era, the weathership programs were discontinued. After August 1981, shipboard measurements along Line P conducted by the Institute of Ocean Sciences (IOS) in Sidney, BC, were limited to 3-6 times per year. Further information, can be found at the Line-P Time-series Program website
In 1997-99 a NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory surface mooring was deployed at station Papa as part of the Nation Ocean Partnership Program (NOPP). In October 1999, the NOPP sponsored Oceanographic-Systems for Chemical, Optical, and Physical Experiments (OSCOPE ) surface mooring was deployed. Due to a faulty chain, after one month the OSCOPE buoy broke from its line and was recovered in early January 2000.
North Pacific Carbon Cycle Project
The Ocean Station Papa surface mooring is one of three components of the "North Pacific Carbon Cycle Project", led by Steve Emerson (University of Washington) and funded by the NSF Carbon and Water Cycle for the Earth System program. The other two components of the project are: (1) measurements of pCO2 and oxygen isotope tracers of biological productivity (Δ17O, O2/Ar) using a Volunteer Observation Ship (VOS) that crosses the Pacific every other month; and (2) determination of carbon fluxes and depth distributions not possible from a VOS using a research cruise between Hawaii and either Tokyo or Seattle, depending on ship scheduling. The overall goal of the project is to identify the importance of mixing and biological processes in controlling the air-sea flux of CO2 in the critical regions north of 35°N.
Ocean Station Papa is a part of the global network of time series stations referred to as OCEAN Sustained Interdisciplinary Timeseries Environment observation System (OceanSITES). These stations provide data for the science community, policy makers, and society in order to detect global climate and ecosystem changes, to describe/quantify them, to understand/explain them and to develop a capability to predict them.
The definition of an ocean timeseries site in the global system is that it has the following characteristics:
* in-situ observations of ocean/climate related quantities at a fixed geographic location/region
* sustained and continuous, contributing to a long-term record at the site
* autonomous moored sampling should be pursued to resolve high-frequency variability, to achieve high vertical resolution, and to obtain coincident multi- disciplinary sampling
* as an alternate to a mooring, shipboard observations from regular occupation of a site as at Ocean Weather Stations, historical sites or sites where moorings have not been established provide an alternate method
* site selection is determined by the value of the site as representative of one, and where possible more, meteorological, physical, or chemical area of interest.
The Ocean Station Papa surface mooring is instrumented with a NOAA/PMEL MAPCO2 system which monitors atmospheric and surface water pCO2. The Papa CO2 measurements are part of a network of moored surface CO2 flux monitoring stations located throughout the world in open-ocean and coastal-ocean environments. See http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/co2/. These systems, together with a network of ship-based pCO2 systems are used to evaluate the changing role of the ocean in global climate change.
In addition to monitoring air-sea CO2 fluxes, this is the first open-ocean mooring specifically designed to monitor ocean acidification. The Papa mooring has been outfitted with a SAMI-pH sensor to directly measure acidity levels in the surface ocean. Monitoring these two carbon system parameters, pCO2 and pH, will allow a full description of the complex carbon chemistry at station Papa and a better understanding of the processes controlling CO2 variability at this site.