Understanding the exposure of the nation’s living marine resources such as shellfish and corals to changing ocean chemistry is a primary goal for the NOAA OAP. Repeat hydrographic surveys, ship-based surface observations, and time series stations (mooring and ship-based) in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans have allowed us to begin to understand the long-term changes in carbonate chemistry in response to ocean acidification.

Buoys & Moorings

There are currently 19 OAP-supported buoys in coastal, open-ocean and coral reef waters which contribute to NOAA's Ocean Acidification Monitoring Program, with other deployments planned.

Currently, there are two types of floating devices which instruments can be added in order to measure various ocean characteristics - buoys and wave gliders. Buoys are moored, allowing them to remain stationary and for scientists to get measurements from the same place over time. The time series created from these measurements are key to understanding how ocean chemistry is changing over time. There are also buoys moored in the open-ocean and near coral reef ecosystems to monitor the changes in the carbonate chemistry in these ecosystems. The MAP CO2 sensors on these buoys measure pCO2 every three hours.

Access our buoy data


Ship surveys

Research cruises are a way to collect information about a certain ecosystem or area of interest.

For decades, scientists have learned about physical, chemical and biological properties of the ocean and coasts by observations made at sea. Measurements taken during research cruises can be used to validate data taken by autonomous instruments. One instrument often used on research cruises is a conductivity, temperature, and depth sensor (CTD), which measures the physical state of the water (temperature, salinity, and depth). The sensor often goes in the water on a rosette, which also carries niskin bottles used to collect water samples from various depths in the water column. Numerous chemical and biological properties can be measured from water collected in niskin bottles.

Ships of Opportunity

Ships of Opportunity (SOPs) or Volunteer Observing Ships (VOSs) are vessels at sea for other reasons than ocean acidification studies, such as commercial cargo ships or ferries.

The owners of these vessels allow scientific instrumentation that measures ocean acidification (OA) parameters to be installed and collect data while the ship is underway. This allows data on ocean chemistry to be collected in many remote areas of the world's ocean, such as high latitude waters, long distances from land (e.g. mid-basin waters), and places not easily accessible by research cruises. These partnerships have greatly increased the spatial coverage of OA monitoring world-wide. To learn more, check out the Ships of Opportunity programs established by the NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) and the NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic Marine Laboratory (AOML).

Wave Gliders

Scientists at the NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) are working with engineers at Liquid Robotics, Inc. to optimize a Carbon Wave Glider.

This instrument (pictured above) can be driven via satellite from land. Carbon Wave Gliders can be outfitted with pCO2, pH, oxygen, temperature and salinity sensors, and the glider’s equipment takes measurements as it moves through the water. The glider’s motion is driven by wave energy, and its sensors are powered through solar cells and batteries, when needed.


NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) in partnership with OAP is engaged in a coordinated and targeted series of field observations, moorings and ecological monitoring efforts in coral reef ecosystems.

These efforts are designed to document the dynamics of ocean acidification (OA) in coral reef systems and track the status and trends in ecosystem response. This effort serves as a subset of a broader CRCP initiative referred to as the National Coral Reef Monitoring Plan, which was established to support conservation of the Nation’s coral reef ecosystems. The OAP contributes to this plan through overseeing and coordinating carbonate chemistry monitoring. This monitoring includes a broadly distributed spatial water sampling campaign complemented by a more limited set of moored instruments deployed at a small subset of representative sites in both the Atlantic/Caribbean and Pacific regions. Coral reef carbonate chemistry monitoring is implemented by researchers at the NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic & Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) and NOAA's PIFSC Coral Reef Ecosystems Division.




Modeling the impact of OA on Alaskan fisheries for decision makers

Modeling the impact of OA on Alaskan fisheries for decision makers

Michael Dalton - Alaska Fisheries Science Center

Forecast effects of ocean acidification on Alaska crab and groundfish fisheries

Why we care
Ocean acidification (OA) is a multi-disciplinary problem that requires a combination of methods from oceanography, fisheries science, and social science to assess socio-economic impacts. While OA impact models developed to date capture some sources of measurement uncertainty, more remains and limits the utility of models in decision making and research planning. A method is needed to quantify uncertainty relating the experimental design of OA experiments to the impacts of ocean pH and temperature on key model outcomes.

What we are doing
The bioeconomic model developed under this project will be applied to forecasting long-term effects of OA on Eastern Bering Sea (EBS) crab, northern rock sole and Alaska cod. Also addressed in this project is the quantification of uncertainty for inclusion in the fisheries management process. The overall goal for this project is to forecast long-term effects of OA on abundance yields and fishery income. To this end, we will apply results from experiments and ocean monitoring/modeling to infer population-scale changes in juvenile growth and survival from OA.

Benefits of our work
Through development of bioeconomic models for the EBS and Gulf of Alaska, we will be able to forecast the long-term effects of OA on northern rock sole and Alaska cod – a fish providing the vast majority of U.S. cod. These models make it possible to estimate abundance yields, fishery income, and economic impacts of OA on a national scale. The results from the project can assist with the development of experiments that will be most informative for bioeconomic modeling.

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Assessing risks of ocean acidification in south-central and southeast Alaska

Tom Hurst - NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center

Evaluating ocean acidification vulnerability and interactions among traditional and coastal Alaska industries

Why we care
Many marine species affected by ocean acidification (OA) contribute to Alaska’s highly productive commercial fisheries and traditional subsistence ways of life. Concern exists that acidification will cause ecosystem-level shifts, diminishing the overall economic value of commercial fisheries and reducing food security for communities relying on subsistence harvests. 

What we are doing
This project addresses acidification threats in south-central and southeast Alaska. It involves the development of decision support tools incorporating acidification risks into localized socio-ecological systems. The tools are based on a network of models representing acidification hazards, bio-ecological systems, and socioeconomic systems linked to adaptive actions.

Benefits of our work
This project is an exchange of knowledge between scientists, policy makers, and community stakeholders. The network of models creates decision support tools responsive to stakeholder concerns that reflect regional variation in community priorities and their ecological social and management context. The project synthesizes the best available science to determine the risks posed by ocean acidification.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Vulnerability of oyster aquaculture and restoration to ocean acidification and other co-stressors in the Chesapeake Bay

Marjy Friedrichs (Virginia Institute of Marine Science ), Emily Rivest (Virginia Institute of Marine Science ), David Wrathall (Oregon State University)

Coastal acidification and its associated co-stressors present a serious and credible threat to the success of both oyster aquaculture and restoration in the Chesapeake Bay. Recent research provides a clearer understanding of the physiological sensitivity of different economically and culturally valuable shellfish species to ocean acidification (OA), but we still lack a basic understanding of how vulnerability differs across the range of shellfish-reliant stakeholders, specifically participants in oyster aquaculture, the growers, watermen and coastal restoration managers. This basic knowledge gap motivates this work, which aims to: (1) assess the vulnerability of the oyster aquaculture industry and oyster restoration to OA and other co-stressors, and (2) produce the information required by regional communities to aid in adaptation to these stressors. In achieving these goals, we will better understand which shellfish stakeholders will be able to successfully adapt, which will seek alternative livelihoods, and what specifically causes the difference between these two disparate outcomes.

Monday, December 21, 2020

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

Vulnerability and Adaptation to Ocean Acidification Among Pacific Northwest Mussel and Oyster Stakeholders

David J. Wrathall, George Waldbusser, and David Kling, Oregon State University

Ocean acidification (OA) is already harming shellfish species in the Pacific Northwest, a global hotspot of OA. While OA poses a threat to regional communities, economies, and cultures that rely on shellfish, identified gaps remain in adaptive capacity and vulnerability of several stakeholders. This project will address these gaps by extending long-standing collaborative OA vulnerability research with shellfish growers to include other shellfish users (e.g. port towns, Native American tribes and shellfish sector employees). The project includes five objectives: 1) Map variations in shellfisheries’ exposure to OA and identify those that are most sensitive, 2) quantify production losses from OA and costs of investment in adaptation 3) Identify potential pathways for adaptation, 4) identify key technological, institutional, legislative, financial and cultural barriers to OA adaptation, 5) evaluate the cost of potential adaptation strategies, and develop behavioral models to predict the likelihood of users adopting specific adaptation strategies. The research is designed to identify key vulnerabilities, determine the cost of OA to Pacific Northwest shellfish stakeholders, and to model adaptation pathways for maximizing resilience to OA. The adaptation framework developed here will be replicable in other shellfisheries yet to experience OA impacts.


Friday, December 22, 2017