NOAA's Ocean Acidification Program supports research focused on economically, ecologically, and culturally important marine species. We can use what we know about survival, growth, and physiology to explore how aquaculture, wild fisheries, and food webs may change as ocean chemistry changes.
NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service Science Centers have state-of-the-art experimental facilities to study the response of marine life 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. At the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, coral research connects ocean conditions with reef health. 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.
NOAA national laboratories are global leaders for delivering innovative strategies for ocean observations and support tools for managing marine resources.
NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) makes critical observations and conducts groundbreaking research to advance our knowledge of the global ocean and its interactions with the earth, atmosphere, ecosystems, and climate. This includes research, observations, and technology development in support of society's response to urgent challenges with ocean acidification and ocean change. NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) conducts world-class Earth system research, with a focus on the Atlantic Ocean region, to inform: the accurate forecasting of extreme weather and ocean phenomena, the management of marine resources, and an understanding of climate change and associated impacts. AOML improves ocean and weather services including advancing our understanding of ocean and coastal acidification and its potential impacts on coral reef and other ecosystems.
Both deep sea and shallow reef-building corals have calcium carbonate skeletons. As our oceans become more acidic, carbonate ions, which are an important building blocks of calcium carbonate structures like coral skeletons, become relatively less abundant. Decreases in these building blocks make building and maintaining calcium carbonate structures harder 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 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, 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 these building blocks 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.
Community Sampling and Ocean Acidification Observations in South-central Alaska
Why we care
Southeast Alaska experiences ocean acidification at a faster rate than other regions due to its cold water temperatures and ocean current patterns. Indigenous communities rely on a healthy marine ecosystem and the culturally and economically important species that are impacted. This long-term community science monitoring program brings together scientists, aquaculturists, and seven Alaska Native communities to build capacity. This project brings awareness about the program, ocean acidification, and its impacts through multimedia.
What we are doing
The CRRC created a video in partnership with Alutiiq Pride Shellfish Hatchery (APSH) to communicate the scientific findings of a long term Native Alaskan community science water quality program south-central Alaska. The goals of the video are educating and raising awareness of ocean acidification and the community science monitoring program to Alaskan Natives and communities the CRRC serves. The video delivers the main findings of the program, highlights the partners and points to current and future impacts to wild shellfish and traditional subsistence food in the Chugach region.
Benefits of our work
This monitoring program serves as an example of co-producing science with indigenous communities that can be used nationwide. The video provides long-term water quality and ocean acidification monitoring data in a more meaningful storytelling format for coastal Alaska Native communities impacted by changing ocean conditions. By using different science communication techniques, such as through multimedia projects, the CRRC and APSH can reach more communities that may be interested in starting a water quality monitoring program in their local marine ecosystem.
NOAA OAP convenes community meeting in San Diego, CA!
Every three years, the NOAA Ocean Acidification Program convenes researchers, communicators and others in the OA community for a meeting to discuss and share the latest research and future needs and directions. We want your participation! Registration is free.
Shape the future strategic direction of the OAP
Inform community members of recent OAP-supported efforts
Foster collaborations within the OA research community
Identify critical research gaps and efforts to address them
Highlight and discuss diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility, and justice in OA research and our community
Find more details and register HERE.
Assessing ocean acidification as a driver for enhanced metals uptake by Blue mussels (Mytilus edulis): implications for aquaculture and seafood safety
Why we care
Ocean acidification causes changes in the chemistry of stressors such as metals and may affect both the susceptibility of these animals to the contaminants as well as the toxicity. This is especially important for animals like blue mussels and other economically important shellfish that accumulate toxins in their bodies. Metal accumulation as a co-stressor of ocean acidification is not well documented for northeastern U.S. shellfish aquaculture species and better understanding these relationships supports seafood safety.
What we are doing
This work investigates the impacts of metal speciation (forms) on blue mussels under acidified conditions in both field and laboratory experiments. Scientists will first study uptake rates of these metals by blue mussels and then see how changing conditions affects their accumulation and toxicity. Comparing what they learn in the lab to what occurs in the field where these mussels are farmed, helps support decisions for seafood safety and industry best practices.
Benefits of our work
Coastal managers and aquaculturists can use these results that provide the societal benefits of better informed siting of aquaculture and safer seafood.