Agency Activities

Department of the Interior

The U.S. Department of the Interior's (DOI) marine and coastal responsibilities include 84 marine and coastal National Parksand 180 National Wildlife Refuges, numerous threatened and endangered species that depend on the ocean for survival, and some marine mammals including the polar bear, walrus, manatee, and sea otter. DOI also shares a concern for preserving these ecosystems and managing natural resources within these and other areas. The Department also manages offshore energy production and must take into consideration the environmental effects of these activities in relation to other environmental stresses. Ocean acidification will alter the environment and may have serious implications for the important areas managed by DOI, particularly since these areas include diverse ecosystems, such as coral and estuarine communities, and sediment resources. An understanding of the implications of ocean acidification is necessary to better manage these areas and to provide for adaptation to the altered environment. DOI, therefore, needs to be actively participating in identifying research needs as well as ensuring that appropriate scientific information is gathered to inform decision making.

National Park Service, Department of the Interior

The National Park Service (NPS) in the Department of the Interior manages all United States national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties. The National Park Service Organic Act of 1916 provides the NPS with a clear mission statement: "To conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wild life therein to provide for the enjoyment of the same in a manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations." The NPS is entrusted with conserving 79 ocean parks, including over 10,000 shoreline miles and over 2 million water acres, including many tidally influenced estuaries. Marine parks are distributed around the United States from tropical to polar environments, including Alaska, the Pacific coast, the South Pacific islands, the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic coast, and the Caribbean. These parks house a wide variety of marine life and span a diverse array of habitats including coral reefs, kelp forests, seagrass beds, rocky and sandy shorelines, and glaciated fjords. Ocean acidification will likely influence all United States marine parks. Understanding the effects of ocean acidification is necessary to inform actions to conserve natural resources within these parks. Maintaining resilient marine ecosystems through restoration and species protection are positive actions the NPS can take to combat the effects of ocean acidification. The NPS represents a unique spatial network of marine habitats and natural resources that are ideal for ocean acidification research, monitoring, and public outreach. Such activities are central to the mission of the National Park Service to conserve these special areas. Learn more

United States Geological Survey, Department of the Interior

The United States Geological Survey has no formal ocean acidification program or umbrella project designated solely as “ocean acidification,” but it does have projects that address ocean acidification issues and are relevant to the USGS mission. These projects are threaded through multiple USGS programs, including Coastal and Marine Geology and Ecosystems Programs. Guidance for USGS ocean acidification research is defined in two of the seven USGS mission area science strategies:  Climate and Land Use Change and Ecosystems. One major goal under the Ecosystems mission area is to advance the understanding of how various anthropogenic and natural drivers influence ecosystem change. In that capacity, USGS work, in collaboration with other Federal government and academic efforts, focuses on investigating the magnitude of ocean acidification in various ecosystems and the ecosystem impacts of ocean acidification, including the degradation of marine systems and effects on of ocean acidification on carbonate producing organisms.

Four science projects with tasks that the USGS has implemented since 2009 to advance the Federal response to ocean acidification include: Florida Shelf Ecosystems Response to Climate Change, Arctic Ocean Acidification, Coral Reef Ecosystem Study, and Exploring the Links between Coral Reefs and Mangroves. These projects are discussed further below and on the USGS ocean acidification website. Two technical projects that have been implemented are CO2calc, a software program that facilitates the study of ocean acidification by making carbon chemistry calculations easier to do, and the development of a pH photometer (light-sensitive machinery) for use in a variety of aquatic environments. Learn more

United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of Interior

The official mission of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) within the Department of the Interior is to work with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The FWS is responsible for managing or co- managing 4 marine national monuments and 180 coastal wildlife refuges, including 118 designated marine protected areas. Ocean acidification will likely impact all of these monuments, refuges, and protected areas to some degree. It is important that the FWS understand the effects of ocean acidification on trust species (migratory birds, species listed under the Endangered Species Act, inter- jurisdiction fishes, marine mammals) as well as entire ecosystems. Learn more

Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Department of Interior


The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) in the Department of the Interior is responsible for managing the use of oil, gas, renewable, and marine mineral resources along the outer continental shelf of the United States. BOEM is contributing to the knowledge of ocean acidification through research activities taking place along the West Coast and in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico. BOEM’s Environmental Studies Program develops, conducts and oversees world-class scientific research specifically to inform policy decisions regarding development of outer continental shelf energy and mineral resources. This research includes the topic of ocean acidification as it applies to BOEM’s jurisdictional purview. In particular, an increased understanding of ocean acidification-induced biogeochemical changes informs BOEM’s cumulative impacts analysis as part of National Environmental Policy Act, which considers environmental impacts from energy development in addition to other potential stressors, such as climate change. Further information is needed to assist BOEM in predicting and detecting the effects of offshore energy activities by describing baseline environmental conditions and if and how they are shifting. BOEM is working to address these information needs and will also use information collected by other entities, including Federal agencies. Learn more

United States Department of Agriculture, Department of Interior

Although the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has few programs or projects that directly address ocean acidification, USDA, in its partnerships with other Federal agencies as a member of the National Ocean Council, supports continuing efforts that address recommendations made by the  National Policy for the Stewardship of the Ocean, Our Coasts, and the Great Lakes Task Force. By promoting and implementing sustainable agricultural programs and practices on land and sustainable aquaculture practices in freshwater and saltwater environments, USDA programs will improve the  health of the ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes as well as provide jobs important in the revitalization of our rural and coastal communities. Learn more

Department of State

The Department of State, through the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES), engages with the world to build a healthier planet, a goal essential to the vitality and security of our Nation – and other nations – today and into the future. The Department of State, through OES, champions the role of science, technology, and innovation in foreign policy as an integral element of strengthening relationships, informing policy decisions, solving problems, and stimulating economic growth. OES issues, including ocean acidification and other climate-related impacts on the ocean, are part of the fabric of United States bilateral, regional, and multilateral relationships and typically represent positive aspects for engagement within the broad foundation that defines these relationships. Engaging on ocean acidification and other scientific issues provides the United States with opportunities to advance stability and economic growth globally.

Environmental Protection Agency

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mission is to protect human health and the environment, which includes identifying impacts on the Nation’s coastal waters due to ocean acidification. EPA authorities under the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act can play an important role in addressing ocean acidification.  EPA's activities under the Clean Air Act to mitigate greenhouse gases have implications for ocean acidification because atmospheric concentrations of CO2 from anthropogenic sources are considered to be the primary driver of acidification in the open ocean and in the waters that ocean circulation brings to coastal environments. EPA and state programs under the Clean Water Act come into play in two ways:  1) acidification may affect the ability of coastal waters to support states’ applicable water quality standards; and 2) these programs help states identify and address land-based sources of pollution (e.g., nutrients) that are considered by the scientific community to be an important driver of coastal acidification.

EPA has recently developed a nationally-oriented ocean and coastal acidification program that includes applied research on ecological responses to acidification, efforts to enhance monitoring in coastal waters, and modeling to assess local drivers and forecast environmental and socioeconomic consequences of acidification. EPA's Office of Research and Development (ORD) provides scientific support on ocean and coastal acidification to the agency and air and water programs and regions. Prior to FY 2016, ORD ocean acidification research was primarily incidental, capitalizing on sampling opportunities that were driven by other programmatic priorities. Beginning in FY 2016, ORD is conducting targeted research on the causes and responses to acidification and hypoxia in the coastal environment, with a strong emphasis on the role of nutrients. This includes field experiments and sampling activities, laboratory investigations of the response of aquatic life to acidification in EPA's marine laboratories, and water quality modeling studies that include carbonate chemistry. Learn more

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) responds to the FOARAM through its role as vice-chair of the IWG-OA and by funding research that contributes to increased understanding of ocean acidification. NASA has supported targeted, approximately annual research opportunities to facilitate ocean acidification research since 2007, details of which are included in the IWG-OA’s biennial reports to  Congress. Funded research utilizes NASA's satellite remote sensing observations, as well as in situ observations and models, to support the FOARAM Act's objectives and NASA's mission.  NASA's ocean acidification research may also facilitate operational and management responsibilities of other agencies included in the FOARAM Act, such as the requirement to develop adaptation strategies to conserve aquatic ecosystems vulnerable to the effects of ocean acidification. Learn more

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce

Understanding ocean acidification and developing reliable projections for how ocean acidification will affect living marine resources drives NOAA’s work on ocean acidification. NOAA’s activities on these topics are necessary for sustainably managing living marine resources in a changing world, enabling local communities to better understand, prepare for, and adapt to changes, and informing national and international carbon assessments and mitigation discussions. NOAA’s Ocean Acidification Program (OAP) was established under Section 12406 of the FOARAM Act to oversee and coordinate ocean acidification research, monitoring, and other activities consistent with the Strategic Research Plan. As part of its responsibilities, the OAP incorporates a competitive, merit-based process for awarding grants on ocean acidification research.  To date, the OAP has provided grants for research projects that explore the effects of ocean acidification on ecosystems and human socioeconomics.Learn more

National Science Foundation

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent Federal agency responsible for advancing science, engineering, and science and engineering education in the United States.  The agency is the funding source for approximately 24 percent of all federally supported fundamental research conducted by United States colleges and universities. Through a competitive, transparent, and in-depth merit review process, NSF seeks and supports the best ideas, tools, facilities, and people to expand the frontiers of knowledge.

NSF supports basic research concerning the nature, extent, and impact of ocean acidification on oceanic environments in the past, present, and future. NSF is committed to research that seeks to understand: 1) the chemistry and physical chemistry of ocean acidification; 2) how ocean acidification interacts with processes at the organismal level; and 3) how the Earth system history informs understanding of the effects of ocean acidification on the ocean now and in the future. Learn more

United States Navy

The U.S. Navy concerns surrounding ocean acidification stem from its relationship to climate change and national security. The Navy’s Task Force Climate Change, which is directed by the Oceanographer of the Navy, was created to address the implications of climate change for national security and naval operations to ensure that the Navy is ready and capable to meet all mission requirements in the 21st century. Ocean acidification has the potential to increase instability in regions of the world where the effects of increasing pH on marine life will threaten the food supply of over one billion people. The Navy is currently monitoring ongoing research to assess the implications of ocean acidification on future missions.

Participating Agencies

US Department of State      Nasa


NOAA Logo      National Science Foundation


Boemre      USGS


Navy      EPA Logo