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

Studies testing kelp to ease effects of ocean acidification

Studies testing kelp to ease effects of ocean acidification

The Seattle Times

A team of scientists is investigating whether growing kelp can reduce carbon-dioxide levels in the inland marine waters of Puget Sound. They also want to find ways to market that harvested kelp for food, fuels or fertilizers.

Thursday, July 14, 2016
Ocean forecast offers seasonal outlook for Pacific Northwest waters

Ocean forecast offers seasonal outlook for Pacific Northwest waters

University of Washington

By now we are used to the idea of seasonal weather forecasts - whether to expect an El Niño ski season, or an unusually warm summer. These same types of climate models are now being adapted to make seasonal forecasts for the region's coastal waters.
Friday, June 24, 2016
NOAA Funds Seven New Projects to Increase Understanding and Response to Climate Impacts on U.S. Fisheries

NOAA Funds Seven New Projects to Increase Understanding and Response to Climate Impacts on U.S. Fisheries

NOAA

NOAA Fisheries Office of Science and Technology has teamed up with the NOAA Research Climate Program Office to study the impacts of a changing climate on the fish and fisheries of the Northeast Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem. Together, these offices are providing $5.0 million in grant funding over the next three years to support seven new projects.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015
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Northwest Oyster Die-offs Show Ocean Acidification Has Arrived

Northwest Oyster Die-offs Show Ocean Acidification Has Arrived

Elizabeth Grossman

Standing on the shores of Netarts Bay in Oregon on a sunny fall morning, it’s hard to imagine that the fate of the oysters being raised here at the Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery is being determined by what came out of smokestacks and tailpipes in the 1960s and ‘70s. But this rural coastal spot and the shellfish it has nurtured for centuries are a bellwether of one of the most palpable changes being caused by global carbon dioxide emissions —ocean acidification.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015
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Scientists Find Rising Carbon Dioxide and ‘Acidified’ Waters in Puget Sound

NOAA

Scientists have discovered that the water chemistry in the Hood Canal and the Puget Sound main basin is becoming more “acidified,” or corrosive, as the ocean absorbs more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. These changes could have considerable impacts on the region’s shellfish industry over the next several decades.
Wednesday, December 2, 2015
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