NOAA's Ocean Acidification Program supports research that focuses on economically and ecologically important marine species. Research of survival, growth, and physiology of marine organisms can be used to explore how aquaculture, wild fisheries, and food webs may change as ocean chemistry changes.
A number of NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service Science Centers have state-of-the-art experimental facilities to study the response of marine organisms to the chemistry conditions expected with ocean acidification.
The Northeast Fisheries Science Center has facilities at its Sandy Hook, NJ and Milford, CT laboratories; the Alaska Fisheries Science Centers at its Newport, OR and Kodiak, AK laboratories; and the Northwest Fisheries Science Center at its Mukilteo and Manchester, WA laboratories. All facilities can tightly control carbon dioxide and temperature. The Northwest Fisheries Science Center can also control oxygen, and can create variable treatment conditions for carbon dioxide, temperature, and oxygen. These facilities include equipment for seawater carbon chemistry analysis, and all use standard operating procedures for analyzing carbonate chemistry to identify the treatment conditions used in experiments.
Both deep sea and shallow reef-building corals have calcium carbonate skeletons. As our oceans become more acidic, carbonate ions, which are an important part of calcium carbonate structures, such as these coral skeletons, become relatively less abundant. Decreases in seawater carbonate ion concentration can make building and maintaining calcium carbonate structures difficult for calcifying marine organisms such as coral.
Increased levels of carbon dioxide in our ocean can have a wide variety of impacts on fish, including altering behavior, otolith (a fish's ear bone) formation, and young fish's growth. Find out more about what scientists are learning about ocean acidification impacts on fish like rockfish, scup, summer flounder, and walleye pollock.
Shellfish, such as oyster, clams, crabs and scallop, provide food for marine life and for people, too. Shellfish make their shells or carapaces from calcium carbonate, which contains carbonate ion as a building block. The decreases in seawater carbonate ion concentration expected with ocean acidification can make building and maintaining calcium carbonate structures difficult for calcifying marine organisms like shellfish. This may impact their survival, growth, and physiology, and, thus, the food webs and economies that depend on them.
Plankton are tiny plants and animals that many marine organisms, ranging from salmon to whales, rely on for nutrition. Some plankton have calcium carbonate structures, which are built from carbonate ions. Carbonate ions become relatively less abundant as the oceans become more acidic. Decreases in seawater carbonate ions can make building and maintaining shells and other calcium carbonate structures difficult for calcifying marine organisms such as plankton. Changes to the survival, growth, and physiology of plankton can have impacts throughout the food web.
The Mid-Atlantic Sea Grant Programs in partnership with the NOAA Ocean Acidification Program, are pleased to announce the availability of Ocean Acidification Graduate Research Fellowships for a two-year period covering the 2018 and 2019 academic years. The fellowship is open to full-time graduate students at any academic institution in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Virginia who are engaged in coastal and marine research relevant to regional ocean, coastal, and estuarine acidification. The focus should be on improving understanding of the potential ecological consequences of increasing carbon dioxide concentration in regional coastal waters. Projects may encompass natural and/or social science research topics.
Proposals are being accepted through 5:00 pm ET on Friday, April 13, 2018 via eSeaGrant.
This announcement and additional information can be found on each state Sea Grant program’s website.
The effects of ocean acidification on marine life have only become widely recognized in the past decade. Now researchers are rapidly expanding the scope of investigations into what falling pH means for ocean ecosystems.
These are exciting times for the NOAA Ocean Acidification Program (OAP) – the Program is growing and maturing! The OAP is the only federal program dedicated to ocean acidification, and was founded just four years ago. It is committed to promoting integration across NOAA to achieve an interdisciplinary approach and fulfill requirements outlined by the FOARAM Act (Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring Act) and the Interagency Working Group on Ocean Acidification Strategic Plan for Federal Research and Monitoring Requirements of Ocean Acidification. At the start of FY15, the OAP moved into its second, three-year funding cycle.