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

State panel calls for stronger action to combat ocean acidification

State panel calls for stronger action to combat ocean acidification

BY: CRAIG WELCH, The Seattle Times

To combat ocean acidification in Washington, the state needs to better track the changing chemistry of Puget Sound, reduce stormwater runoff and nutrient pollution that worsen the problem, and counteract souring waters by sprinkling shells in estuaries or growing more carbon-gobbling vegetation. 

But above all, the state must advocate for regional, national and international policies to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions, according to authors of a first-of-its-kind report released Tuesday about the changing chemistry of Washington's marine waters.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012
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Washington is first state to tackle ocean acidification

Washington is first state to tackle ocean acidification

BY: KENNETH R. WEISS, The Los Angeles Times

Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire on Tuesday ordered state agencies to take initial steps to combat ocean acidification, making it the first state to address problematic changes in ocean chemistry that threaten shellfish farms, wild-caught fish and other marine life. Gregoire signed the executive order based on the recommendation of a blue ribbon panel of experts that pointed out how increasingly acidified waters pose a direct threat to the state’s $270 million shellfish industry. “A healthy ocean is critical to our health and our coastal economies,” Gregoire said in a statement. “We have learned that human caused emissions of carbon dioxide are dramatically altering the ocean’s chemistry at an alarming rate… Ocean acidification is yet another reason to quickly and significantly reduce emissions of carbon dioxide across the planet.”

Tuesday, November 27, 2012
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Washington State Targets Pollutants that Lead to Ocean Acidification

Washington State Targets Pollutants that Lead to Ocean Acidification

BY: DAVID MALAKOFF, Science

In the first state-level action of its kind, the governor of Washington today announced that her state will try to protect valuable shellfish industries and marine life from ocean acidification. Responding to a report that she requested, Governor Chris Gregoire said she has directed state agencies to take steps to reduce the pollutants that contribute to acidification. She also plans to ask the state legislature to establish a new acidification research center at the University of Washington (UW), Seattle.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012
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Gregoire orders action on ocean acidification

BY: 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.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012
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Washington state confronts ocean acidification

Washington state confronts ocean acidification

BY: JULIET EILPERIN, The Washington Post

Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire (D) ordered state agencies on Tuesday to take steps to address the ocean’s increasing acidity, making it the first state to adopt a policy to take on what scientists describe as a growing environmental concern.

Ocean acidification poses a threat to the state’s $270 million shellfish industry, as well as to critical habitat off its shores.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012
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