Forecasting provides insight into a vision of the future by using models that visualize how quickly and where ocean chemistry will be changing in tandem with an understanding of how sensitive marine resources and communities are to these changes.  By making predictions about the future, we can better adapt and prepare for ocean acidification.

Modeling Projects

Modeling provides a glimpse into the future by combining predicted changes to ocean chemistry with impacts to both marine organisms and people.  These models allow communities and fishery managers to plan ahead and adapt to ocean acidification. Models are underway or have been completed for some of the most vulnerable species, such as Atlantic sea scallops, which are vulnerable to acidification impacts in their early life stages and represent the highest grossing single species fishery in the United States. The Ocean Acidification Program (OAP) funded a modeling project led by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution to develop an integrated model for forecasting the impacts of ocean acidification (OA) on the Atlantic sea scallop fishery.  The new model connects chemical changes with population changes and economic information that will be used to create interactive tools for decision makers. NOAA scientists have played an important role in development of the J-SCOPE forecast system, used to create seasonal forecasts for the North Pacific region.  These forecasts will allow fisheries managers to predict seasonal outlooks for management decisions.

Vulnerability Assessments 

Learning how sensitive marine organisms are to ocean acidification is an important part of creating management plans. These “vulnerability assessments” lay the groundwork for adaptation strategies by identifying the most ecologically, economically or culturally  important resources. Scientists at NOAA Fisheries, which are supported  by the Ocean Acidification Program (OAP), are developing vulnerability assessments in US regions that include ocean acidification as part of fishery management plans. These ocean acidification vulnerability assessments have been completed in the Northeast for a wide variety of fishes and invertebrates, such as cod and sea scallops, and are near completion in Alaska.  Additionally, a vulnerability assessment was completed for shellfish aquaculture throughout the United States.  

From Observations to Forecasts

Learning ways in which communities can adapt to ocean acidification is an important strategy for protecting human health and marine ecosystems.  Turning current observations into forecasts is the key mechanism by which these adaptation plans are created. Coastal forecasts for ocean acidification are currently being developed for the West Coast, Chesapeake Bay, the East Coast, Caribbean and the western Gulf of Mexico. Ocean acidification hotspots are areas that are particularly vulnerable, either from a biological, economic, or cultural perspective.  Identification of these hot spots in coastal waters is a priority for the Coastal Acidification Networks (CANs), fostered by the Ocean Acidification Program around the country.  These networks bring together scientists, decision makers, fishermen and other stakeholders to identify and answer the most important questions about acidification and its effects in the region.



The Limits of Water Quality Criteria

The Limits of Water Quality Criteria

A rising tide of acidity is overwhelming the global ocean. Estuaries and near-shore waters fall under the jurisdiction of states and the federal government, mandating treatment under the Clean Water Act, but criteria for action are uncertain and unclear. BY: RYAN KELLY & MEG CALDWELL, The Environmental Forum

Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, the global ocean has absorbed a third of the carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels, transforming it into carbonic acid. The acidity of the marine environment has increased by roughly a third since 1750, changing chemical processes vital to life, including shell and coral formation and the growth of bony structures in fish. This massive change in ocean chemistry is a growing water quality problem that focuses attention on the surprisingly difficult business of determining whether and how a particular water quality standard has been violated. Such attention brings with it a larger question of whether water quality criteria are legally sufficient under the CWA if they are difficult or impossible to test as a practical matter, and highlights the changing role of the act as it is used to combat a new class of water pollution.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Trouble in the Water: Acidifying Oceans Hinder Health of Northwest Shellfish


The world's oceans are absorbing carbon dioxide at an unprecedented rate and the resulting acidification is transforming marine ecosystems. Hari Sreenivasan reports on how ocean acidification is already affecting oysters and other shellfish in the U.S.

Friday, December 7, 2012

State should lead in fighting climate change

The Olympian

This state can’t afford to wait for decisive action by federal and global leaders on the pressing problem of climate change. One of the most compelling cases in point is the growing evidence that ocean acidification is raising havoc with the marine ecosystem in the Pacific Northwest, including Puget Sound. Last week, a panel of scientists and policymakers appointed by Gov. Chris Gregoire issued a sweeping set of recommendations to combat ocean acidification.

Sunday, December 2, 2012
Orcas Island senator eyes a carbon tax to protect NW shellfish

Orcas Island senator eyes a carbon tax to protect NW shellfish

After a jarring report from Gov. Gregoire's panel on ocean acidification, state Sen. Kevin Ranker takes aim at the Northwest's biggest culprit: Carbon dioxide emissions. BY: JOHN STANG, Crosscut

State Sen. Kevin Ranker is considering an industrial carbon tax to curb carbon dioxide emissions in Washington and to deal with the increasing acidity of the state's waters.

Friday, November 30, 2012

In Our View: Oceans Threatened

Rising acid levels are addressed in panel's new recommendations, The Columbian

One of the first and most frequent rebuttals to environmental concerns is based on finances: Can we afford the solutions? Therefore, we'll begin this discussion of ocean acidification — admittedly a complex and still murky issue — by focusing on the financial aspects. 

Washington state leads the nation in production of farmed shellfish, providing 85 percent of sales on the west coast, including Alaska. The shellfish industry contributes $270 million annually to our state's economy and supports 3,200 jobs. It also contributes to tourism, as you know if you've ever dug razor clams on the coast. The impact of rising levels of acid in the ocean was dramatically illustrated between 2005 and 2009 with massive loss of oyster larvae in Northwest hatcheries, including the 2005 failure of larvae at Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchers on Netarts Bay near Tillamook, Ore. 

The good news is that Washington state also leads the nation in research and advocacy on this issue, evidenced by Tuesday's report from a panel of experts and stakeholders appointed 10 months ago by Gov. Chris Gregoire. The first of its kind at such a high level of state governance, the report includes 42 wide-ranging recommendations. Those include specifics such as increasing seaweed farming to remove carbon dioxide from ocean waters, and generalities such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Friday, November 30, 2012