Summer with NOAA – Marine Protected Areas Center

Marine Protected Areas Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Remote in Monterey, California (Office is located in Silver Spring, Maryland)
June 6 – August 19, 2022

For this summer, I have the immense pleasure of interning with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Protected Areas Center. The MPA Center is located within NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and serves as a resource to all federal, state, territorial and tribal programs responsible for the health of the nation’s oceans.

For my internship, I am specifically focusing on the role of marine Carbon Dioxide Removal (mCDR) technologies in National Marine Sanctuaries (NMS). What is mCDR, you may ask? I had the same question when I started this internship but now I feel very well versed in the topic! Marine CDR technologies are a variety of approaches that can be deployed in the ocean to enhance the ocean’s natural ability to absorb carbon (e.g., photosynthesis by phytoplankton) and ultimately help curb climate change. These technologies include anything from restoring coastal wetlands to artificially adding nutrients to cultivating seaweed to artificially inducing upwelling and downwelling. While this is a promising prospect for mitigating climate change, their experimentation or deployment in National Marine Sanctuaries may not align with the Sanctuary’s mission and objective to protect its species and environment. Therefore, I have been working on creating a document that provides background knowledge and recommendations on mCDR in NMS for Sanctuary managers and staff, helping them make key decisions regarding the safeguarding of National Marine Sanctuaries in a changing climate.

The research I have conducted is facilitated by conversations with various NOAA staff, throughout the country, as well as CDR experts in the field. Interviewees have consisted of scientists, permitters, lawyers, legal consultants and more. It is incredible getting an interdisciplinary perspective on this very nascent topic.

In addition to my particular research, I have been very fortunate to sit in on departmental meetings and attend internal NOAA webinars that provide me with insight on the inner workings of the organization. At the start of the internship, I attended the Capitol Hill Ocean Week that was put on the Marine Sanctuary Foundation and facilitated by the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. Various ocean topics were discussed by numerous experts in the field. It was wonderful to see the knowledge being shared as well as the optimism on facing climate change.

This is my work space at my home in Pacific Grove. I am extremely lucky to have a little view of the ocean and remind me of my inspiration everyday. Most of the workday, my dog sits next to me because she also loves learning about the ocean 🙂

The future of my internship will include finalizing the internal mCDR document, sharing the findings and recommendations with NOAA’s CDR working group, Blue Carbon team, and others as well as attending a CDR workshop and learning about the topic further. Although I am remote, I am excited to be able to have in-person meetings with NOAA staff who are located in Monterey and work for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. I hope to get out into the field, explore the behind the scenes of the local sanctuaries and discuss with managers on how marine CDR might fit into the future of their National Marine Sanctuary.