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Ocean Acidification Program News

A Sentinel for Change: Secrets along the seafloor in Olympic Coast

NOAA Ocean Acidification Program

Whether you arrive on the Olympic Peninsula by land, sea, or air, you sense its remote, rugged and vast environment immediately. The Olympic Coast is home to productive waters which sustain thriving marine and coastal communities that have long supported the region’s tribal peoples. Ocean waters quickly deepen just offshore, boasting canyons which extend almost a mile below the surface – and have yet to be fully explored.
Scientists aboard the R/V Nautilus are exploring these wonders in the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary from August 18th to September 4th, 2017 by deploying nets and unmanned vehicles to get a peek at life under the sea. The sea floor itself also holds clues to a change this region is particularly vulnerable to – ocean acidification. During spring and summer along the Olympic Coast, deep, cold waters rise from the canyons and other offshore areas bringing excess carbon dioxide produced by human activities to coastal waters.  Culturally, ecologically, and commercially important marine species, like Dungeness crab, and the food-webs they are a part of may be challenged by these waters high in carbon dioxide. The unmanned vehicles operated by the R/V Nautilus team provide a rare opportunity to sample layers of the seafloor. Their observations will give insights into the environment organisms experienced in the past and how that compares to the conditions found along the Olympic Coast today.
Olympic Coast ocean waters are projected to acidify rapidly in the future, crossing chemical thresholds known to affect the regions’ marine species. Putting these projected changes into a historical context is key to getting a sense of how this marine ecosystem will respond to changes in ocean chemistry. Were species affected with past changes? Did they persist and adapt? Looking back in time provides a foundation to better understand how this marine ecosystem and the communities that are tied to it could adapt.
The Olympic Coast is a sentinel of change for ocean acidification. In this special place, researchers are working year-round to understand the physical, chemical and biological impacts of ocean acidification. Managers are using this understanding to inform and enhance efforts to sustain and utilize resources vital to the communities that call this place home. Collaborative research and monitoring efforts are being integrated with education and outreach to define adaptive management tools that Olympic Coast communities can use to face ocean acidification head-on
You can see what secrets scientists onboard the R/V Nautilus uncover live by tuning into the Nautilus Live website!
Learn more about the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary here!


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The NOAA Ocean Acidification Program (OAP) works to prepare society to adapt to the consequences of ocean acidification and conserve marine ecosystems as acidification occurs. Learn more about the human connections and adaptation strategies from these efforts.

Adaptation approaches fostered by the OAP include:


Using models and research to understand the sensitivity of organisms and ecosystems to ocean acidification to make predictions about the future, allowing communities and industries to prepare


Using these models and predictions as tools to facilitate management strategies that will protect marine resources and communities from future changes


Developing innovative tools to help monitor ocean acidification and mitigate changing ocean chemistry locally


On the Road

Drive fuel-efficient vehicles or choose public transportation. Choose your bike or walk! Don't sit idle for more than 30 seconds. Keep your tires properly inflated.

With your Food Choices

Eat local- this helps cut down on production and transport! Reduce your meat and dairy. Compost to avoid food waste ending up in the landfill

With your Food Choices

Make energy-efficient choices for your appliances and lighting. Heat and cool efficiently! Change your air filters and program your thermostat, seal and insulate your home, and support clean energy sources

By Reducing Coastal Acidification

Reduce your use of fertilizers, Improve sewage treatment and run off, and Protect and restore coastal habitats

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You've taken the first step to learn more about ocean acidification - why not spread this knowledge to your community?

Every community has their unique culture, economy and ecology and what’s at stake from ocean acidification may be different depending on where you live.  As a community member, you can take a larger role in educating the public about ocean acidification. Creating awareness is the first step to taking action.  As communities gain traction, neighboring regions that share marine resources can build larger coalitions to address ocean acidification.  Here are some ideas to get started:

  1. Work with informal educators, such as aquarium outreach programs and local non-profits, to teach the public about ocean acidification. Visit our Education & Outreach page to find the newest tools!
  2. Participate in habitat restoration efforts to restore habitats that help mitigate the effects of coastal acidification
  3. Facilitate conversations with local businesses that might be affected by ocean acidification, building a plan for the future.
  4. Partner with local community efforts to mitigate the driver behind ocean acidification  – excess CO2 – such as community supported agriculture, bike & car shares and other public transportation options.
  5. Contact your regional Coastal Acidification Network (CAN) to learn how OA is affecting your region and more ideas about how you can get involved in your community
       More for Taking Community Action