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.


Mid-Atlantic Ocean Acidification Graduate Fellowship Opportunity

Ocean Acidification Program and Sea Grant

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.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Federal Funding Opportunity: Ocean, Coastal, and Great Lakes National Aquaculture Initiative

National Sea Grant College Program

Depending on appropriations, NOAA National Sea Grant College Program (NOAA Sea Grant) expects to have available a total of $7,000,000 to $11,500,000 across fiscal years 2018, 2019 and 2020 as part of the Sea Grant National Aquaculture Initiative (NAI). As part of the NAI, this competition is designed to foster the expansion of a sustainable U.S. ocean, coastal and Great Lakes aquaculture sector by addressing one or more of the following priorities: (a) supporting the development of emerging systems or technologies that will advance aquaculture in the U.S., including projects that will help stimulate aquaculture production by nascent industries; (b) developing and implementing actionable methods of communicating accurate, science based messages and information about the benefits and risks of U.S. marine aquaculture to the public; and (c) increasing the resiliency of aquaculture systems to natural hazards and changing conditions. Successful applications must describe projects that clearly address major constraints, barriers or hurdles limiting aquaculture production in the U.S. Complete proposals are due from eligible parties to Sea Grant programs on March 2, 2018 at 5 p.m. local time. Proposals from Sea Grant programs are due in by March 30, 2018

Interested applicant may obtain the full Federal Funding Opportunity announcement by visiting opportunity number NOAA-OAR-SG-2018-2005489. 

Applicants are strongly encouraged to reach out to their Sea Grant Program one to two months prior to the Sea Grant program

Thursday, December 14, 2017
Categories: Federal Funding

New tool helps oyster growers prepare for changing ocean chemistry

NOAA Research

For Bill Mook, coastal acidification is one thing his oyster hatchery cannot afford to ignore.

Mook Sea Farm depends on seawater from the Gulf of Maine pumped into a Quonset hut-style building where tiny oysters are grown in tanks. Mook sells these tiny oysters to other oyster farmers or transfers them to his oyster farm on the Damariscotta River where they grow large enough to sell to restaurants and markets on the East Coast.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016