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Assessing efficacy of electrochemical ocean alkalinity enhancement at an existing outfall using tracer release experiments and oceanographic models

Wastewater treatment plant. Courtesy of East Bay Utility District

Why we care
Adding alkalinity to the ocean may provide a safe and effective approach to removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Assessing the efficacy and efficiency of ocean alkalinity enhancement are essential steps to ensuring that this method of carbon dioxide removal can contribute to mitigating climate change and ocean acidification. 

What we will do
Through partnership with a local wastewater treatment plant in San Francisco Bay, this project will conduct an experiment that adds alkalinity to ocean water to test its effect on removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Researchers will first use a numerical modeling framework to design the experiment, including the release strategy and a sampling plan that will track effects in the environment. Following the experiment, the team will conduct a retrospective analysis that combines models and observations to estimate the efficacy of the alkalinity release in removing carbon from the atmosphere. Further, they will apply the modeling framework to estimate the efficiency of removal. The technical work will be accompanied by public engagement to introduce local groups and communities like Tribes, NGOs, civil society organizations to the project. Engagement will explore how the project aligns with their views and priorities, and what associated risks and co-benefits these groups perceive. 

Benefits of this work
This work provides an evaluation of alkalinization efficacy in a specific coastal ocean system. Dr. David Ho of the University of Hawai’i and principal investigator of the project says it “represents the first time an alkalinity release is conducted with the 3He/SF6 dual tracers and allows us the opportunity to determine air-sea CO2 fluxes and track the evolution of an ocean alkalinity enhancement” over this time scale. Also delivered is a “demonstration of how we develop tools for a monitoring, reporting, and verification (MRV) of ocean carbon dioxide removal.” The project also provides recommendations on methods and best practices for conducting public engagement alongside future pilot field trials of ocean alkalinity enhancement and related marine carbon dioxide approaches.

Award amount: $1,915,600
Funding source(s): NOAA, ClimateWorks Foundation
IRA funding? Yes
Project duration: 3 years

David Ho, University of Hawai’i, Manoa
Danielle Bianchi, University of California Los Angeles
Matthew Eisaman, Ebb Carbon, Inc. 
Alicia Karspeck, Convergent Research, LLC
Matthew Long, Convergent Research, LLC
James McWilliams, University of California Los Angeles
Sara Nawaz, American University
Mallory Ringham, Ebb Carbon, Inc.

Read the webstory from the University of Hawai’i, Manoa

Image: Wastewater treatment plants could be leveraged as a site for marine carbon dioxide removal. Courtesy of East Bay Municipal Utility District

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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