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An opportunity to study Ocean Alkalinity Enhancement, carbon dioxide removal, and ecosystem impacts through coastal liming

Terrestrial liming at golf courses serve as testbeds for this method for carbon capture and mitigating acidification. Credit: Your Golf Travel (Creative Commons)

Why we care
Terrestrial liming, or the addition of a basic (alkaline) material like calcium carbonate to crops and lawns is a common agricultural soil treatment. When applied on land in the coastal zone, this alkalinity likely influences neighboring bodies of water and may foster carbon dioxide removal and mitigate local ocean acidification. This project will study the effectiveness of carbon dioxide removal and impacts of resulting alkalinity from the common practice of terrestrial liming in a coastal setting.  

What we will do
Dr. Jaime Palter of the University of Rhode Island says “a golf course’s routine lawn care includes the spreading of large quantities of limestone – nearly 20 tons for 9 holes. With that fact in mind, we realized that using a golf course’s lime deployment as our release experiment could provide an ideal, permit-free opportunity to study the effect of coastal alkalinity enhancement”. This project takes advantage of a routine lawn care technique of golf course liming. The team will monitor the carbon chemistry of a small coastal lagoon before and after the application of the limestone on a nearby golf course. The team will measure dissolved inorganic carbon, or the total amount of inorganic carbon in the water using sensors continuously measuring water properties and in weekly field sampling. They will also measure total alkalinity, the water’s buffering capacity that may increase with liming and enhance the lagoon’s ability to take in carbon dioxide. These essential observations help track the sources and sinks of carbon in a system. More specifically, they will allow the team to calculate the balance of dissolved inorganic carbon and total alkalinity in the lagoon to understand if the lagoon can further absorb carbon after the liming process. The research will also study the impact on the ecosystem and mitigation of local ocean acidification on clams. Finally, the project employs modeling simulations to understand the fate of alkalinity and dissolved inorganic carbon as it leaves the coastal zone, estimate the carbon dioxide removal achieved through observed lime application, and explore the scalability of terrestrial liming along the U.S. east coast.

Benefits of our work
The work aims to address the unknowns associated with the practice of coastal liming as a carbon dioxide removal pathway. Specifically, the team will learn more about “how this coastal liming could mitigate local acidification, promote measurable carbon dioxide removal in the coastal zone, or export alkalinity to the open ocean, and how these practices might scale along the US East Coast” says Palter. Furthermore, the work also evaluates impacts on shellfish using this approach.

Award amount: $1,538,452
IRA funding? Yes
Funding source(s): NOAA
Project duration: 3 years

Jaime Palter, University of Rhode Island
Jason Grear, Environmental Protection Agency
David Ho, University of Hawai’i, Manoa
Robert Pockalny, University of Rhode Island
Rebecca Robinson, University of Rhode Island
Samantha Siedlecki, University of Connecticut
Hongjie Wang, University of Rhode Island

Image: Terrestrial liming at golf courses serve as testbeds for this method for carbon dioxide removal and mitigating acidification. Credit: Your Golf Travel (Creative Commons)

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The NOAA Ocean Acidification Program (OAP) works to prepare society to adapt to the consequences of ocean acidification and conserve marine ecosystems as acidification occurs. Learn more about the human connections and adaptation strategies from these efforts.

Adaptation approaches fostered by the OAP include:


Using models and research to understand the sensitivity of organisms and ecosystems to ocean acidification to make predictions about the future, allowing communities and industries to prepare


Using these models and predictions as tools to facilitate management strategies that will protect marine resources and communities from future changes


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


On the Road

Drive fuel-efficient vehicles or choose public transportation. Choose your bike or walk! Don't sit idle for more than 30 seconds. Keep your tires properly inflated.

With your Food Choices

Eat local- this helps cut down on production and transport! Reduce your meat and dairy. Compost to avoid food waste ending up in the landfill

With your Food Choices

Make energy-efficient choices for your appliances and lighting. Heat and cool efficiently! Change your air filters and program your thermostat, seal and insulate your home, and support clean energy sources

By Reducing Coastal Acidification

Reduce your use of fertilizers, Improve sewage treatment and run off, and Protect and restore coastal habitats

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You've taken the first step to learn more about ocean acidification - why not spread this knowledge to your community?

Every community has their unique culture, economy and ecology and what’s at stake from ocean acidification may be different depending on where you live.  As a community member, you can take a larger role in educating the public about ocean acidification. Creating awareness is the first step to taking action.  As communities gain traction, neighboring regions that share marine resources can build larger coalitions to address ocean acidification.  Here are some ideas to get started:

  1. Work with informal educators, such as aquarium outreach programs and local non-profits, to teach the public about ocean acidification. Visit our Education & Outreach page to find the newest tools!
  2. Participate in habitat restoration efforts to restore habitats that help mitigate the effects of coastal acidification
  3. Facilitate conversations with local businesses that might be affected by ocean acidification, building a plan for the future.
  4. Partner with local community efforts to mitigate the driver behind ocean acidification  – excess CO2 – such as community supported agriculture, bike & car shares and other public transportation options.
  5. Contact your regional Coastal Acidification Network (CAN) to learn how OA is affecting your region and more ideas about how you can get involved in your community
       More for Taking Community Action