Technology Development 

Monitoring Devices

Monitoring devices provide a hands-on tool for communities, industries and managers to adapt their practices when corrosive, or low pH, conditions occur.  The Ocean Acidification Program (OAP) is funding technology development on both the East and West coasts for monitoring devices which allow shellfish hatcheries and grow out operations to know when corrosive conditions are present so that they can adapt their methods. OAP required that these projects involve a private industry partner that could move the devices to commercial production. Complementing coastal monitoring, real-time data from offshore buoys now act as an early warning system for shellfish hatcheries, signaling the approach of cold, low pH seawater a day or two before it arrives in the sensitive coastal waters where young oyster larvae are produced. The data have enabled hatchery managers to schedule production when water quality is good and avoid wasting valuable energy and other resources when water quality is poor. Other adaptation approaches taken by hatcheries have included adding soda ash to low pH waters to raise it to levels shellfish can tolerate.

Biological Tools 

In some cases, natural marine ecosystems and species may already have ways to shelter neighboring habitats and organisms from ocean acidification by absorbing carbon dioxide from the seawater.  Scientists at multiple NOAA facilities are investigating kelp as one of these biological tools to draw down carbon dioxide from local waters.  OAP-funded scientists are studying kelp for this use in Puget Sound, where it can grow side by side with shellfish hatcheries to manage harmful effects of ocean acidification.  Similarly, OAP-funded scientists are also studying the beneficial effects of seagrass for local populations of corals, which is leading to the development of coral reef management strategies to protect seagrass beds.

Iron Fertilization

Iron fertilization is a controversial geoengineering approach suggested as a strategy to mitigate climate change. The approach entails adding iron to the oceans to stimulate a phytoplankton bloom, which would enhance the rate of carbon dioxide exchange from the atmosphere to the oceans. The effectiveness and feasibility of iron fertilization have been debated, but even if viable, this approach actually works directly counter to mitigating ocean acidification because it promotes the movement of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into the ocean where it is the primary driver of ocean acidification. Research carried out by NOAA’s Ocean Acidification Program has demonstrated that phytoplankton blooms actually generate low pH/high carbon dioxide conditions in the subsurface deep waters. This already commonly occurs in coastal waters in association with low oxygen conditions. So while iron fertilization may remain an area of interest as a potential climate mitigation strategy, it will exacerbate ocean acidification in coastal waters. 

Breeding Research

The United States Department of Agriculture and NOAA Sea Grant have supported research to develop oysters that are more resilient to ocean acidification. Through the Small Business Innovation Research program, NOAA has also funded work to identify and develop ocean acidification-resistent strains of red abalone.

 

STORIES OF ADAPTATION

OCEAN ACIDIFICATION DISCUSSION

OCEAN ACIDIFICATION DISCUSSION

Ocean Action Hub, United Nations

The discussion is taking place during the preparatory process for The Ocean Conference in order to engage stakeholders in assessing the challenges and opportunities related to delivering on implementation of SDG14.3 aimed at minimizing and addressing the impacts of ocean acidification. The discussion runs from 9 – 30 March 2017.  Dr. Libby Jewett, Director of NOAA's Ocean Acidification Program, is participating as a moderator. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017
New tool helps oyster growers prepare for changing ocean chemistry

New tool helps oyster growers prepare for changing ocean chemistry

NOAA Research, Laura Newcomb

For Bill Mook, coastal acidification is one thing his oyster hatchery cannot afford to ignore. Mook Sea Farm depends on seawater from the Gulf of Maine pumped into a Quonset hut-style building where tiny oysters are grown in tanks. Mook sells these tiny oysters to other oyster farmers or transfers them to his oyster farm on the Damariscotta River where they grow large enough to sell to restaurants and markets on the East Coast.

Thursday, January 26, 2017
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NOAA research links human-caused CO2 emissions to dissolving sea snail shells off U.S. West Coast

NOAA research links human-caused CO2 emissions to dissolving sea snail shells off U.S. West Coast

NOAA

For the first time, NOAA and partner scientists have connected the concentration of human-caused carbon dioxide in waters off the U.S. Pacific coast to the dissolving of shells of microscopic marine sea snails called pteropods.

“This is the first time we’ve been able to tease out the percentage of human-caused carbon dioxide from natural carbon dioxide along a large portion of the West Coast and link it directly to pteropod shell dissolution,” said Richard Feely, a NOAA senior scientist who led the research appearing in Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. “Our research shows that humans are increasing the acidification of U.S. West Coast coastal waters, making it more difficult for marine species to build strong shells.”

Wednesday, November 23, 2016
NOAA and Sea Grant fund $800,000 in research to understand effects of ocean changes on iconic Northeast marine life

NOAA and Sea Grant fund $800,000 in research to understand effects of ocean changes on iconic Northeast marine life

NOAA’s Ocean Acidification Program (OAP) and the Northeast Sea Grant Programs joined together to prioritize and fund new research on how ocean acidification is affecting marine life including lobsters, clams, oysters, mussels and sand lance that are so important to the Northeast region. Funding includes $800,000 in federal funds from the two programs with an additional $400,000 non-federal match.
Tuesday, September 6, 2016
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New tool helps oyster growers prepare for changing ocean chemistry

NOAA Research

For Bill Mook, coastal acidification is one thing his oyster hatchery cannot afford to ignore.

Mook Sea Farm depends on seawater from the Gulf of Maine pumped into a Quonset hut-style building where tiny oysters are grown in tanks. Mook sells these tiny oysters to other oyster farmers or transfers them to his oyster farm on the Damariscotta River where they grow large enough to sell to restaurants and markets on the East Coast.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016
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