The Hallam Lab

Investigating microbial communities…
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Northeast Subarctic Pacific (NESAP): Ocean Station Papa

Ecosystem Type: Open Ocean
Location: 50°N, 145°W

Ocean Station Papa has been occupied regularly since 1981 by the Institute of Ocean Sciences from Fisheries and Oceans Canada and is currently visited by three cruises per year occurring in February, June, and August. Prior to this, it served as an oceanic weather station dating back to 1949, with hydrographic observations beginning in 1956, making it one of the longest running timeseries of data in the global ocean. The endurance of this timeseries is critical to the study of interdecadal processes like ocean acidification and Pacific Decadal Oscillation.

Station Papa was also the first location where measurements were used to describe the direct relationship between thermal stratification and oxygen loss in the interior oceanic waters of the northeast subarctic Pacific. Waters between 100-400 m at this location have been measured to be warming at a rate of 0.005-0.012 °C yr-1. Concurrently, oxygen in this layer is declining at a rate of 0.009-0.016 mL L-1 yr-1 which amounts to a decrease of 22% over the 50 year record. As shown in the image above, the depth of the low oxygen layer has gotten shallower throughout the record by ~100 m.
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Research in the Hallam lab has focused on deciphering the abundance and function of bacteria in Marine Group A (MGA), a diverse group of bacteria that seem to be most prevalent below the photic zone in stratified waters with distinct haloclines or oxyclines. In the NESAP, samples indicate that members of MGA make up ~5-10% of all the bacteria in these waters. Further work has shown that these bacteria are particularly well adapted to surviving in the low oxygen environment and that specific MGA subgroups may play an important role in the marine sulfur cycle.

Planned and Recent Cruises

The Institute of Ocean Sciences visits station Papa three times a year, in February, June, and August. The Hallam Lab is a regular participant in these cruises and gathers samples at multiple stations along the transect.

The Pacific Marine Environmental Lab also maintains a mooring at the site to monitor ocean-atmosphere interactions, carbon uptake, and ocean acidification. This buoy has now become a global scale node as part of the NSF sponsored Ocean Observatories Initiative.