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

Facing Climate Change

Facing Climate Change

New Videos from the Pacific Northwest BY: BEN DRUMMOND & SARAH JOY STEELE

Kathleen Nisbet, and her father Dave farm oysters in Waxhington's Willipa Bay. They recently shifted some of their business to Hawai'i after ocean acidification started killing baby oysters in hatcheries.

Friday, February 15, 2013
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WA’s First Ocean Acidification Legislation

WA’s First Ocean Acidification Legislation

Slightline Daily

On the heels of Washington State’s pioneering efforts to identify local steps to slow ocean acidification, Sen. Kevin Ranker (D-Orcas Island) has introduced legislation to begin coordinating that response. SB 5547 would create a new council of elected and tribal representatives and affected industries to oversee research and action to curb profoundly troubling changes in ocean chemistry.

The bill would also include acidification as a possible justification for extending urban sewer services to rural areas (normally not allowed under the state’s Growth Management Act), in areas where local pollution from leaky septic systems combines with global carbon dioxide emissions to make the problem worse.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013
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Pacific Northwest paying high price for carbon emissions

The Grist

It is ironic that despite relatively progressive clean energy policies the West Coast is paying an unusually high price for global carbon emissions. Ocean water off the Pacific coast has absorbed so much carbon that it is becoming acidic enough to melt the shells of sea creatures. Our national and global addiction to fossil fuel and unwillingness to seriously reduce carbon emissions is taking its toll, right here, in real time, with profound implications for the Pacific Ocean.

Friday, February 1, 2013
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Scallops, too, are victims of greenhouse gas emissions

Vancouver Sun

We've all heard about global warming, and we know the primary cause is our profligate release to the atmosphere of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the burning of fossil fuels. That warming continues to bite us: Last year was the warmest ever across the continental United States since records have been kept, and the fifth warmest in Canada. 

But there is a hidden side to ongoing CO2 emissions and it's now biting us, too. Roughly one-third of the CO2 emitted since the Industrial Revolution has dissolved into the sea and is slowly turning our oceans acidic.

Saturday, January 19, 2013
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Clallum County board briefed on ocean acidification

Clallum County board briefed on ocean acidification

BY: ROB OLLIKAINEN, Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — It would take a global reduction in carbon dioxide emissions to reverse the effects of ocean acidification, members of the Clallam County Marine Resources Committee told county commissioners Monday. But there are ways to help at the local and state level — pollution control, a reduction in stormwater runoff and investment in more water monitors — to protect shellfish and other species from potentially lethal changes in ocean chemistry, committee members Ed Bowlby and Andrew Shogren said. “We have to tackle the global aspect, but when possible, when appropriate, to try to tackle it locally to mitigate this onslaught that we can't do anything about,” Bowlby said. “That's a different aspect. That's going to keep occurring. “But we can start trying to minimize local contributions within the watershed, the stormwater runoffs, that can cause local ocean acidification.”

Monday, December 10, 2012
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