FISH
SHELLFISH
PLANKTON

 

Biological Response

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.


FISHERIES SCIENCE CENTERS

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.

 


Corals

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.

 


Fish

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

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

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.


OAP SUPPORTED BIOLOGICAL RESPONSE PROJECTS

Assessing vulnerability of the Atlantic Sea Scallop social-ecological system in the northeast waters of the US

Samantha Seidlecki (University of Connecticut), Lisa Colburn (NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center), Shannon Meseck (NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center)

Of the fisheries made up of calcifiers in the Northeast United States, the Atlantic sea scallop fishery is worth more than $500 million per year, is the second highest fisheries revenue in the United States, and the largest wild scallop fishery in the world. The vulnerability and resilience of fishing communities to the effects of warming and Ocean Acidification (OA) on Northeast species is dependent on their adaptive capacity in relation to both social and environmental exposure and sensitivity factors. Communities that harvest a diversity of species may adapt more easily than communities that specialize in one or a few species. The regional contribution of sea scallop to total regional landed value has steadily increased over recent decades as has fishing community dependence on it as a source of revenue. Prior work projecting impacts to scallops in the region found that sea scallop biomass may decline by more than 50% by the end of the century with a large impact on the fishery (Cooley et al. 2015; Rheuban et al. 2018), but new tools and lab results are available for this proposed work that may alter this assessment. The team is working the hypothesis that a spatially- explicit regional projection of changes relative to sea scallop fishing zones can inform fishery management and allow communities that rely on Atlantic sea scallops to plan and become more resilient to future change. This work will develop a recommendation to management to assist scallop industry stakeholders and managers with changes in the fishery that result from projected OA and temperature changes. 
Monday, December 21, 2020

Optimizing Ocean Acidification Observations for Model Parameterization in the Coupled Slope Water System of the U.S. Northeast Large Marine Ecosystem

Grace Saba, Rutgers University

The U.S. Northeast Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem, supports some of the nation’s most economically valuable coastal fisheries, yet most of this revenue comes from shellfish that are sensitive to ocean acidification (OA). Furthermore, the weakly buffered northern region of this area is expected to have greater susceptibility to OA. Existing OA observations in the NES do not sample at the time, space, and depth scales needed to capture the physical, biological, and chemical processes occurring in this dynamic coastal shelf region. Specific to inorganic carbon and OA, the data available in the region has not been leveraged to conduct a comprehensive regional-scale analysis that would increase the ability to understand and model seasonal-scale, spatial-scale, and subsurface carbonate chemistry dynamics, variability, and drivers in the NES. This project optimizes the NES OA observation network encompassing the Mid-Atlantic and Gulf of Maine regions by adding seasonal deployments of underwater gliders equipped with transformative, newly developed and tested deep ISFET-based pH sensors and additional sensors (measuring temperature, salinity for total alkalinity and aragonite saturation [ΩArag] estimation, oxygen, and chlorophyll), optimizing existing regional sampling to enhance carbonate chemistry measurements in several key locations, and compiling and integrating existing OA assets. The researchers will apply these data to an existing NES ocean ecosystem/biogeochemical (BGC) model that resolves carbonate chemistry and its variability. 


Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Assessment of the Observing Network to Identify Processes Relevant to the Predictability of the Coastal Ocean of the Northeast on Centennial Time Scales

Samantha Siedlecki, University of Connecticut

Over the past 15 years, waters in the Gulf of Maine have taken up
CO2at a rate significantly slower than that observed in the open oceans due to a combination of
the extreme warming experienced in the region and an increased presence of well-buffered Gulf
Stream water. The reduced uptake of CO2 by the shelves could
also alter local acidification rate, which differ from the global rates. The intrusion of
anthropogenic CO2is not the only mechanism that can reduce Ωarag within coastal surface waters.
Local processes like freshwater delivery, eutrophication, water column metabolism, and
sediment interactions that drive variability on regional scales can also modify spatial variability
in Ωarag. Global projections cannot resolve these local processes with resolution of a degree
or more. Some high-resolution global projections have been developed which perform well in
some coastal settings . However, these simulations do not include regional
biogeochemical processes described above which can amplify or dampen these global changes,
particularly in coastal shelf regions. Our hypothesis is that a regionally downscaled projection
for the east coast of the US can be used to evaluate the ability of the existing observational
network to detect changes in ocean acidification relevant stressors for scallops and propose a
process-based strategy for the network moving forward.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020
Categories: Projects

Ocean and Coastal Acidification Thresholds from Long Island Sound to the Nova Scotian Shelf

Ruairidh Morrison, NERACOOS

How will nearshore and coastal ecosystems respond to ocean and coastal acidification in the Northeast? How will these changes affect human communities? An absence of actionable information and understanding of the dynamic nature of coastal acidification is a major challenge to Northeast seafood industry, resource managers, and coastal policymakers. This project will expand the existing Northeast Coastal Ocean Forecast System to develop actionable guidance for coastal water quality and marine resource managers through workshops and direct engagement. Workshops and focus groups will be held to determine information needs, decision scenarios, modeling priorities, and options for delivering actionable information for three specific users: (1) water quality managers and monitoring systems, (2) oyster growers, and (3) the wild harvest shellfishing industry. The research will focus on advancing ocean acidification detection and warning systems that take into account other environmental stressors in Northeast coastal waters.
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Low pH in Coastal Waters of the Gulf of Maine: A Data Synthesis-Driven Investigation of Probable Sources, Patterns and Processes Involved

David W. Townsend, University of Maine

Coastal Maine supports valuable lobster, clam, oyster and other shellfish industries that comprise >90% of Maine’s record $616M landed value last year. Earlier monitoring efforts in Maine and New Hampshire have documented periods of unusually acidic conditions in subsurface waters of Maine’s estuaries, which may be driven by episodic influxes of waters from the Gulf’s nutrient-rich, highly productive coastal current system. Sources of acidity to the estuaries also include the atmosphere, freshwater fluxes, and local eutrophication processes, all modulated by variability imparted by a number of processes.This project is a data synthesis effort to look at long-term trends in water quality data to identify the key drivers of acidification in this area. Extensive data sets dating back to the 1980s (including carbonate system, hydrography, oxygen, nutrients, and other environmental variables) will be assembled, subjected to QA/QC, and analyzed to assess acidification events in the context of landward, seaward and direct atmospheric sources, as may be related to processes operating on tidal to decadal timescales. Such analyses are requisite for any future vulnerability assessments of fishery-dependent communities in Maine and New Hampshire to the effects of coastal acidification.

Friday, December 22, 2017
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