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

Oceans fail the acid test as carbon emissions rise

Oceans fail the acid test as carbon emissions rise

BY: GEOFFREY LEAN, Science

It is the little mentioned flip side of global warming – the acidification of the world’s oceans. Now new research shows that, as predicted, it is harming sea life.

Even if climate change were not taking place, the process provides compelling cause for reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, for they are powering what scientists believe to be the most profound change in the chemistry of the oceans in millions of years. And its effects cannot be reversed in less than tens of millennia.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012
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CO2 dangerously acidifying world's oceans

CO2 dangerously acidifying world's oceans

Oceans are sucking up increased carbon emissions, raising fears acidification could lead to marine life extinctions BY: JILLIAN KESTLER DAMOURS, Aljazeera

As the effects of global climate change continue to be felt throughout the world's ecosystems, scientists say greenhouse gases are causing rapid changes that may irreversibly alter the composition of the Earth's oceans. It is estimated oceans absorb up to 30 percent of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, helping to offset the overall warming of the planet. But the amount of CO2 being pumped into the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution has skyrocketed, saturating oceans and boosting acidification. Burgeoning ocean acidification raises the spectre of extinctions of coral, algae and shellfish - key cogs in the global food chain - with far reaching consequences for the planet's inhabitants.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012
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Ocean Acidification: It's Time to Act

Ocean Acidification: It's Time to Act

BY: GEORGE LEONARD, National Geographic

Consensus is hard. Any time you bring together a range of interests, it’s rare the group can speak in a unified voice and recommend a clear path forward. But that’s exactly what happened yesterday in Washington by its Governor and the state’s Blue Ribbon Panel (BRP) on Ocean Acidification. The panel made clear that options exist for tackling ocean acidification. Coastal states and businesses that are dependent upon a healthy ocean now have a road map for action, thanks to Washington’s leadership – and oyster growers in Oregon first sounding the alarm. Ocean acidification is happening now, and we can and should take action.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012
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The Impact- Environmental and financial impacts of ocean acidification on the shellfish industry

a video, TVW

Host Anita Kissee visits a shellfish farm to see the environmental and financial impacts of ocean acidification on the industry. Plus, an update on the whooping cough epidemic.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012
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Rising ocean acidity off Washington state threatens shellfish, panel says

Rising ocean acidity off Washington state threatens shellfish, panel says

BY: The Associated Press

SEATTLE -- Rising acidity levels in the oceans pose a serious threat to shellfish and other marine life, and tackling that problem in Washington state will require reducing carbon dioxide emissions, keeping polluted runoff out of marine waters, and increasing monitoring at hatcheries, a group of experts recommended Tuesday.

The panel of scientists and policy experts convened by Gov. Chris Gregoire recommended dozens of actions to combat changes to ocean chemistry detected several years ago when oyster larvae in Pacific Northwest hatcheries began dying in large numbers.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012
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