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Jan Newton

Senior Principal Oceanographer

Affiliate Professor, Oceanography






Dr. Jan Newton is a Senior Principal Oceanographer with the Applied Physics Laboratory of the University of Washington and an affiliate professor 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. She is a Co-director of the Washington Ocean Acidification Center and the Co-chair of the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network.

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

Severe biological effects under present-day estuarine acidification in the seasonally variable Salish Sea

Bednaršek, N., J.A. Newton, M.W. Beck, S.R. Alin, R.A. Feely, N.R. Christman, and T. Klinger, "Severe biological effects under present-day estuarine acidification in the seasonally variable Salish Sea," Sci. Total Environ., 765, doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.142689, 2021.

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15 Apr 2021

Estuaries are recognized as one of the habitats most vulnerable to coastal ocean acidification due to seasonal extremes and prolonged duration of acidified conditions. This is combined with co-occurring environmental stressors such as increased temperature and low dissolved oxygen. Despite this, evidence of biological impacts of ocean acidification in estuarine habitats is largely lacking. By combining physical, biogeochemical, and biological time-series observations over relevant seasonal-to-interannual time scales, this study is the first to describe both the spatial and temporal variation of biological response in the pteropod Limacina helicina to estuarine acidification in association with other stressors. Using clustering and principal component analyses, sampling sites were grouped according to their distribution of physical and biogeochemical variables over space and time. This identified the most exposed habitats and time intervals corresponding to the most severe negative biological impacts across three seasons and three years. We developed a cumulative stress index as a means of integrating spatial-temporal OA variation over the organismal life history. Our findings show that over the 2014–2016 study period, the severity of low aragonite saturation state combined with the duration of exposure contributed to overall cumulative stress and resulted in severe shell dissolution. Seasonally-variable estuaries such as the Salish Sea (Washington, U.S.A.) predispose sensitive organisms to more severe acidified conditions than those of coastal and open-ocean habitats, yet the sensitive organisms persist. We suggest potential environmental factors and compensatory mechanisms that allow pelagic calcifiers to inhabit less favorable habitats and partially offset associated stressors, for instance through food supply, increased temperature, and adaptation of their life history. The novel metric of cumulative stress developed here can be applied to other estuarine environments with similar physical and chemical dynamics, providing a new tool for monitoring biological response in estuaries under pressure from accelerating global change.

An autonomous platform for near real-time surveillance of harmful algae and their toxins in dynamic coastal shelf environments

Moore, S.K., J.B. Mickett, G.J. Doucette, N.G. Adams, C.M. Mikulski, J.M. Birch, B. Roman, N. Michel-Hart, and J.A. Newton, "An autonomous platform for near real-time surveillance of harmful algae and their toxins in dynamic coastal shelf environments," J. Mar. Sci. Eng., 9, doi:10.3390/jmse9030336, 2021.

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18 Mar 2021

Efforts to identify in situ the mechanisms underpinning the response of harmful algae to climate change demand frequent observations in dynamic and often difficult to access marine and freshwater environments. Increasingly, resource managers and researchers are looking to fill this data gap using unmanned systems. In this study we integrated the Environmental Sample Processor (ESP) into an autonomous platform to provide near real-time surveillance of harmful algae and the toxin domoic acid on the Washington State continental shelf over a three-year period (2016–2018). The ESP mooring design accommodated the necessary subsystems to sustain ESP operations, supporting deployment durations of up to 7.5 weeks. The combination of ESP observations and a suite of contextual measurements from the ESP mooring and a nearby surface buoy permitted an investigation into toxic Pseudo-nitzschia spp. bloom dynamics. Preliminary findings suggest a connection between bloom formation and nutrient availability that is modulated by wind-forced coastal-trapped waves. In addition, high concentrations of Pseudo-nitzschia spp. and elevated levels of domoic acid observed at the ESP mooring location were not necessarily associated with the advection of water from known bloom initiation sites. Such insights, made possible by this autonomous technology, enable the formulation of testable hypotheses on climate-driven changes in HAB dynamics that can be investigated during future deployments.

Natural and anthropogenic drivers of acidification in large estuaries

Cai, W.-J., and 11 others including J.A. Newton, "Natural and anthropogenic drivers of acidification in large estuaries," Ann. Rev. Mar. Sci., 13, 23-55, doi:10.1146/annurev-marine-010419-011004, 2021.

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1 Jan 2021

Oceanic uptake of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere has changed ocean biogeochemistry and threatened the health of organisms through a process known as ocean acidification (OA). Such large-scale changes affect ecosystem functions and can have impacts on societal uses, fisheries resources, and economies. In many large estuaries, anthropogenic CO2-induced acidification is enhanced by strong stratification, long water residence times, eutrophication, and a weak acid–base buffer capacity. In this article, we review how a variety of processes influence aquatic acid–base properties in estuarine waters, including coastal upwelling, river–ocean mixing, air–water gas exchange, biological production and subsequent aerobic and anaerobic respiration, calcium carbonate (CaCO3) dissolution, and benthic inputs. We emphasize the spatial and temporal dynamics of partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2), pH, and calcium carbonate mineral saturation states. Examples from three large estuaries — Chesapeake Bay, the Salish Sea, and Prince William Sound — are used to illustrate how natural and anthropogenic processes and climate change may manifest differently across estuaries, as well as the biological implications of OA on coastal calcifiers.

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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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