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Jan Newton

Senior Principal Oceanographer

Affiliate Assistant Professor, Oceanography






Dr. Jan Newton is a Principal Oceanographer with the Applied Physics Laboratory of the University of Washington and affiliate faculty with the UW School of Oceanography and the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs, both in the UW College of the Environment. She is the Executive Director of the Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems (NANOOS), the US IOOS Regional Association for the Pacific Northwest.

Jan is a biological oceanographer who has studied the physical, chemical, and biological dynamics of Puget Sound and coastal Washington, including understanding effects from climate and humans on water properties. Currently she has been working with colleagues at UW and NOAA to assess the status of ocean acidification in our local waters.

Department Affiliation

Ocean Physics


B.S. Biology, Western Washington University, 1981

M.S. Oceanography, University of Washington - Seattle, 1984

Ph.D. Oceanography, University of Washington - Seattle, 1989


Washington Real-time Coastal Moorings (NEMO)

The Northwest Enhanced Moored Observatory (NEMO), which consists of a heavily-instrumented real-time surface mooring (Cha Ba), a real-time subsurface profiling mooring (NEMO-Subsurface) and a Seaglider to collect spatial information, aims to improve our understanding of complex physical, chemical and biological processes on the largely unsampled Washington shelf.

27 Sep 2011

NVS: NANOOS Visualization System

The NANOOS Visualization System (NVS) is your tool for easy access to data. NVS gathers data across a wide range of assets such as buoys, shore stations, and coastal land-based stations. Never before available downloads and visualizations are provided in a consistent format. You can access plots and data for almost all in-situ assets for the previous 30-day period.

2 Nov 2009

NANOOS: Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems

This Pacific Northwest regional association is a partnership of information producers and users allied to manage coastal ocean observing systems for the benefit of stakeholders and the public. NANOOS is creating customized information and tools for Washington, Oregon, and Northern California.

1 Jan 2004

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Environmental Sample Processor: A Sentry for Toxic Algal Blooms off the Washington Coast

An undersea robot that measures harmful algal species has been deployed by APL, UW, and NOAA researchers off the Washington coast near La Push. Algal bloom toxicity data are relayed to shore in near-real time and displayed through the NANOOS visualization system. The Environmental Sample Processor, or ESP, is taking measurements near the Juan de Fuca eddy, which is a known incubation site for toxic blooms that often travel toward coastal beaches, threatening fisheries and human health.

22 Jun 2016

ORCA Tracks the 'Blob'

A 'blob' of very warm surface water developed in the northeastern Pacific Ocean in 2014–2015 and its influence extended to the inland waters of Puget Sound throughout the summer of 2015. The unprecedented conditions were tracked by the ORCA (Oceanic Remote Chemical Analyzer) buoy network — an array of six heavily instrumented moored buoys in the Sound. ORCA data provided constant monitoring of evolving conditions and allowed scientists to warn of possible fish kill events in the oxygen-starved waters of Hood Canal well in advance.

The ORCA network is maintained by a partnership among APL-UW, the UW College of the Environment, and the UW School of Oceanography.

3 Nov 2015

NEMO Deployment off the Washington Coast 2015

NEMO is the Northwest Enhanced Moored Observatory. The two advanced moorings located in water about 100 m deep off the Washington coast and a repeating Seaglider transect over the continental shelf have been collecting atmospheric and oceanographic data for over five years.

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15 Jul 2015

In 2015 pH/CO2 sensors were placed on the moorning line. NOAA and other research teams have been measuring pCO2 and pH at the sea surface, but this is the first placement of sensors at depth in the region. These new data streams will increase the perspective of real time monitoring and inform ongoing research on ocean acidification.

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2000-present and while at APL-UW

Seasonal carbonate chemistry variability in marine surface waters of the U.S. Pacific Northwest

Fassbender, A.J., and 10 others including J.A. Newton, "Seasonal carbonate chemistry variability in marine surface waters of the U.S. Pacific Northwest," Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 10 1367-1401, doi:10.5194/essd-10-1367-2018, 2018.

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30 Jul 2018

Fingerprinting ocean acidification (OA) in US West Coast waters is extremely challenging due to the large magnitude of natural carbonate chemistry variations common to these regions. Additionally, quantifying a change requires information about the initial conditions, which is not readily available in most coastal systems. In an effort to address this issue, we have collated high-quality publicly available data to characterize the modern seasonal carbonate chemistry variability in marine surface waters of the US Pacific Northwest. Underway ship data from version 4 of the Surface Ocean CO2 Atlas, discrete observations from various sampling platforms, and sustained measurements from regional moorings were incorporated to provide  ~100 000 inorganic carbon observations from which modern seasonal cycles were estimated. Underway ship and discrete observations were merged and gridded to a 0.1° x  0.1° scale. Eight unique regions were identified and seasonal cycles from grid cells within each region were averaged. Data from nine surface moorings were also compiled and used to develop robust estimates of mean seasonal cycles for comparison with the eight regions. This manuscript describes our methodology and the resulting mean seasonal cycles for multiple OA metrics in an effort to provide a large-scale environmental context for ongoing research, adaptation, and management efforts throughout the US Pacific Northwest. Major findings include the identification of unique chemical characteristics across the study domain. There is a clear increase in the ratio of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) to total alkalinity (TA) and in the seasonal cycle amplitude of carbonate system parameters when moving from the open ocean North Pacific into the Salish Sea. Due to the logarithmic nature of the pH scale (pH = –log10[H+], where [H+] is the hydrogen ion concentration), lower annual mean pH values (associated with elevated DIC : TA ratios) coupled with larger magnitude seasonal pH cycles results in seasonal [H+] ranges that are  ~27 times larger in Hood Canal than in the neighboring North Pacific open ocean. Organisms living in the Salish Sea are thus exposed to much larger seasonal acidity changes than those living in nearby open ocean waters. Additionally, our findings suggest that lower buffering capacities in the Salish Sea make these waters less efficient at absorbing anthropogenic carbon than open ocean waters at the same latitude.

New ocean, new needs: Application of pteropod shell dissolution as a biological indicator for marine resource management

Bednaršek, N., and 7 others including J. Newton, "New ocean, new needs: Application of pteropod shell dissolution as a biological indicator for marine resource management," Ecol. Indic., 76, 240-244, doi:10.1016/j.ecolind.2017.01.025, 2017.

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1 May 2017

Pteropods, planktonic marine snails with a cosmopolitan distribution, are highly sensitive to changing ocean chemistry. Graphical abstract shows pteropod responses to be related to aragonite saturation state, with progressing decrease in Ωar causing deteriorating biological conditions. Under high saturation state (Ωar > 1.1; zone 0), pteropods are healthy with no presence of stress or shell dissolution. With decreasing Ωar (zone 1), pteropod stress is demonstrated through increased dissolution and reduced calcification. At Ωar < 0.8 (zones 2 and 3), severe dissolution and absence of calcification prevail; the impairment is followed by significant damages. Pteropods responses to OA are closely correlated to shell dissolution that is characterized by clearly delineated thresholds. Yet the practical utility of these species as indicators of the status of marine ecosystem integrity has been overlooked. Here, we set out the scientific and policy rationales for the use of pteropods as a biological indicator appropriate for low-cost assessment of the effect of anthropogenic ocean acidification (OA) on marine ecosystems. While no single species or group of species can adequately capture all aspects of ecosystem change, pteropods are sensitive, specific, quantifiable indicators of OA’s effects on marine biota. In an indicator screening methodology, shell dissolution scored highly compared to other indicators of marine ecological integrity. As the socio-economic challenges of changing ocean chemistry continue to grow in coming decades, the availability of such straightforward and sensitive metrics of impact will become indispensable. Pteropods can be a valuable addition to suites of indicators intended to support OA water quality assessment, ecosystem-based management, policy development, and regulatory applications.

Estimating total alkalinity in the Washington State coastal zone: Complexities and surprising utility for ocean acidification research

Fassbender, A.J., S.R. Alin, R.A. Feely, A.J. Sutton, J.A. Newton, and R.H. Byrne, "Estimating total alkalinity in the Washington State coastal zone: Complexities and surprising utility for ocean acidification research," Estuar. Coast., 40, 404–418, doi:10.1007/s12237-016-0168-z, 2017.

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1 Mar 2017

Evidence of ocean acidification (OA) throughout the global ocean has galvanized some coastal communities to evaluate carbonate chemistry variations closer to home. An impediment to doing this effectively is that, often, only one carbonate system parameter is measured at a time, while two are required to fully constrain the inorganic carbon chemistry of seawater. In order to leverage the abundant single-carbonate-parameter datasets in Washington State for more rigorous OA research, we have characterized an empirical relationship between total alkalinity (TA) and salinity for regional surface waters that is robust in the salinity range from 20 to 35 for all seasons. The relationship was evaluated using 5 years of 3-h contemporaneous observations of salinity, carbon dioxide partial pressure (pCO2), and pH from a surface mooring on the outer coast of Washington. In situ pCO2 observations and salinity-based estimates of TA were used to calculate pH for comparison with in situ pH measurements. On average, the calculated pH values were 0.02 units lower than the measured pH values across multiple pH sensor deployments and showed extremely high fidelity in tracking the measured high-frequency pH variations. Our results indicate that the TA-salinity relationship will be a useful tool for expanding single-carbonate-parameter datasets in Washington State and quality controlling dual pCO2-pH time series.

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In The News

The ocean absorbs billions of tons of carbon every year, and the process is accelerating, study shows

Seattle Times, Evan Bush

Newly published research analyzed more than 100,000 seawater samples worldwide and found the oceans are absorbing about 31 percent of human-caused carbon emissions. It’s “a huge service the oceans are doing,” says a co-author, in Seattle.

14 Mar 2019

Could this tool save Washington's shellfish?

Crosscut, Hannah Weinberger

Researchers at the University of Washington have invented a computer model, LiveOcean, that each day compiles a vast array of ecosystemic data — currents, salinity, temperature, chemical concentrations, organic particles and more — to create a three-dimensional, 72-hour forecast for the undersea weather of the Pacific Northwest.

20 Feb 2019

New UW computer program forecasts underwater conditions

KING 5 News, Alison Morrow

We're used to checking the weather forecast, but now we can also check the forecast underwater in Puget Sound and around the coast.

7 Feb 2019

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