Societal impacts and adaptation strategies

Ocean acidification is a threat to food security, economies, and culture because of its potential impacts on marine ecosystem services. Information on how ocean acidification will impact ecosystems and the services they provide can help guide how we adapt to and mitigate forecasted changes.


The OAP funds modeling studies to advance our understanding of the impacts of ocean acidification on coastal ecosystems and fisheries.

Scientists can use a wide variety of models to project the potential progression of acidification in different regions, the impacts that changes in chemistry may have on marine life, and how these changes could affect a variety of ecosystem services including fisheries, aquaculture, and protection of coasts by coral reefs. For example, projections of ocean acidification can be incorporated into food-web models to better understand how changing ocean chemistry could affect harvested species, protected species, and the structure of the food web itself. Economic-forecast models can be used to analyze the economic impacts of potential changes in fisheries harvest caused by ocean acidification.

Figure from: Harvey et al. 2010

Ecosystem Modeling

Experiments on species response suggest that ocean acidification will directly affect a wide variety of organisms from calcifying shellfish and coral to fish and phytoplankton. Ecosystem models can capture the complex effects of ocean acidification on entire ecosystems.

How marine organisms respond to ocean acidification will be influenced by their reaction to chemistry change and their interactions with others species, such as their predators and prey. Scientists use ecosystem models to understand how ocean chemistry may affect entire ecosystems because they account for the complex interactions between organisms. Output from such modeling exercises can inform management of fisheries, protected species, and other important natural resources. Because ecosystem feedbacks are complex, understanding the uncertainty associated with these models is critical to effective management.

Economic Projections

Projections of the economic impacts of ocean acidification can be created by combining economic models with findings from laboratory experiments and ecological models.

For example, these links can be made for port communities or specific fisheries through modeling changes in fish harvest. Researchers at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center have developed bio-economic forecasts for the economically and culturally important species red king crab. Researchers at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center are developing projections of how the economies of regional port communities might be altered by potential changes in West Coast fisheries caused by ocean acidification.


How can we adapt to our changing ocean? 

The NOAA Ocean Acidification Program (OAP) is working to build knowledge about how to adapt to the consequences of ocean acidification (OA) and conserve marine ecosystems as acidification occurs.







Turning current observations into forecasts is the key mechanism by which adaptation plans are created.

Forecasting provides insight into a vision of the future by using models that visualize how quickly and where ocean chemistry will be changing in tandem with an understanding of how sensitive marine resources and communities are to these changes.  By making predictions about the future, we can better adapt and prepare for ocean acidification. Coastal forecasts for ocean acidification are currently being developed for the West Coast, Chesapeake Bay, the East Coast, Caribbean and the western Gulf of Mexico. Ocean acidification hotspots are areas that are particularly vulnerable, either from a biological, economic, or cultural perspective. Identification of these hot spots in coastal waters is a priority for the Coastal Acidification Networks (CANs), fostered by the Ocean Acidification Program around the country. These networks bring together scientists, decision makers, fishermen and other stakeholders to identify and answer the most important questions about acidification and its effects in the region.


NOAA scientists have played an important role in development of the J-SCOPE forecast system, used to create seasonal forecasts for the North Pacific region. These forecasts will allow fisheries managers to predict seasonal outlooks for management decisions.


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


Management strategies use information provided by research and tools that can be used to make sound decisions to effectively conserve marine resources. Baseline research about organism and community sensitivity to ocean acidification is incorporated into these strategies, in an effort to sustain these resources for the future.

Before management plans can be created it is necessary to have baseline research about the effects of ocean acidification on marine resources, such as Pacific oysters, Dungeness crabs and rockfish. The OAP funds NOAA Fisheries Science Centers to expose various life stages of valuable species to present and future acidification conditions. The biological response research is then incorporated into models that can be used to create tools for managers to use so that they can test different scenarios on species’ populations and habitats.  Modeling efforts led by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution are now being used to produce one of these tools for Atlantic sea scallop fisheries. The dashboard will allow managers to test the impacts of different management actions on scallop populations.  In the Pacific Northwest, NOAA, the University of Washington, and shellfish industry scientists have formed a strong partnership to adapt to ocean acidification impacts that have already affected the shellfish industry. Together these researchers determined that acidification was threatening oyster production and offered an approach to address it. They installed equipment to monitor carbon chemistry at shellfish hatcheries and worked with hatchery managers to develop methods that protect developing oyster larvae from exposure to low pH waters.   Early warning tools are now being used to forecast seasonal acidification conditions to enable shellfish growers to adapt their practices.


EXPLORE THE IOOS Pacific Region Ocean Acidification
Data portal

This portal provides a real-time data stream of ocean acidification data that can be used by shellfish growers, regional managers, stakeholders and the public. The portal can be used to make resource decisions and build adaptation strategies.


Federal Funding Opportunity: Identification and Application of Acidification Thresholds in Coastal Ecosystems

National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) and Ocean Acidification Program (OAP)

The NOAA/NOS/National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) and the NOAA/OAR/Ocean Acidification Program (OAP) are soliciting proposals for the Identification and Application of Acidification Thresholds in Coastal Ecosystems. The goal is to develop a threshold detection and warning capability for ocean acidification in concert with other stresses. This includes identification of indicator species and parameters (ecological, economic, and/or social) to monitor that might provide early warning of impending change from one ecosystem state to another. Funding is contingent upon the availability of Fiscal Year 2018 Federal appropriations. It is anticipated that projects funded under this announcement will have a September 1, 2018 start date. Applicants should submit proposals not to exceed $350,000 per year for projects generally 2-4 years in duration, with a total multi-year budget not to exceed $1,050,000. Funding for this program is contingent upon the availability of funds, which may not have been appropriated at the time of this announcement.

Due Date: Letters of Intent must be received by 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on December 8, 2017 and are required before submitting a full proposal. Full applications must be received and validated by by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on February 13, 2018. 

The full funding opportunity and information on how to apply can be found on 

For more information, please contact Beth Turner, NOAA/NCCOS, 603-862-4680 or

Thursday, November 9, 2017
Categories: Federal Funding

Federal Funding Opportunity: Regional Vulnerability Assessments for Ocean Acidification

Ocean Acidification Program

The Ocean Acidification Program is soliciting proposals for collaborative projects of up to 2 years in duration that synthesize ocean acidification information at a regional scale (e.g. Large Marine Ecosystem, large estuary or collection of small estuaries, and state or collection of states in US waters) to determine where societal vulnerabilities to ocean acidification exist or are emerging, in order to provide actionable information for marine resource decision makers. This funding opportunity will not support the collection of new chemical or ecological observations or species response data. Social science data collection is permitted. For more information visit the Opportunities page.  

Wednesday, September 7, 2016