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

WHOI Scientists Receive $1 Million Grant from MacArthur Foundation

WHOI Scientists Receive $1 Million Grant from MacArthur Foundation

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Rapid climate change and an increasing range of climate impacts are already being felt along our coasts, and new research suggests that U.S. Northeast coastal waters may be more vulnerable to climate change and ocean acidification than previously thought.
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
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California Ocean Protection Council Announces West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Science Panel

California Ocean Protection Council Announces West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Science Panel

Sacramento, CA

California and Oregon are joining forces to help address ocean acidification and hypoxia, a West Coast-wide thereat to our shared marine and coastal ecosystem.  The California Natural Resources Agency , on behalf of the California Ocean Protection Council (OPC), today signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the state of Oregon to jointly sponsor a high-level science panel to help address the issue of ocean acidification and hypoxia.

Thursday, August 29, 2013
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Shellfish industry pins hope on Freeport research

Bangor Daily News

Following a recent Town Council appropriation, the town’s shellfish community has started what is being called a “historic” effort to address the rapid disappearance of soft-shell clams.

The effort is the first comprehensive, large-scale research project in Maine to study the most significant factors believed to be contributing to the decline of shellfish resources, said Brian Beal, a professor at the University of Maine at Machias and one of the scientists working on the project.

“To the best of my knowledge, I am not aware of any community that has raised this much money for a shellfish research project, ever,” he said. “(It) underscores the commitment by the town to this very important commercial resource that they co-manage with the state of Maine.”

Tuesday, May 21, 2013
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Study shows oyster reefs buffer acidification of Chesapeake Bay

Study shows oyster reefs buffer acidification of Chesapeake Bay

Virginia Institute of Marine Science

A new study co-authored by Prof. Roger Mann of 's Virginia Institute of Marine Science adds a new item to the list of oyster reef benefits — the ability to buffer increasing acidity of ocean waters.

Concerns about increasing acidity in Chesapeake Bay and the global ocean stem from human inputs of carbon dioxide to seawater, either through burning of fossil fuels or runoff of excess nutrients from land. The latter over-fertilizes marine plants and ultimately leads to increased respiration by plankton-filtering oysters and bacteria. In either case, adding carbon dioxide to water produces carbonic acid, a process that has increased ocean acidity by more than 30 percent since the start of the Industrial Revolution.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013
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Can Acid Neutralizers Help Coral Reefs Bounce Back?

NPR

Coral reefs are in trouble worldwide, from a host of threats, including warming ocean temperatures, nutrient runoff and increasing ocean acidity. A noted climate scientist from California has been conducting an experiment on Australia's Great Barrier Reef to see whether antacid could boost coral growth.

Thursday, April 18, 2013
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