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Assessing the chemical and biological implications of alkalinity enhancement using carbonate salts from captured carbon dioxide to mitigate ocean acidification and enable mCDR

Breaking wave in sunlight. Credit: NOAA Ocean Service

Why we care
Energy, manufacturing and deployment costs are critical to the viability of any carbon dioxide removal approach. This research project focuses on a new strategy that promises low energy burden and low manufacturing costs to capture carbon and achieve ocean alkalinity enhancement, essential features for scaling any future efforts of this technology to capture carbon and assuage ocean acidification.

What we will do
Researchers will develop and test a pilot-scale system that captures carbon dioxide from the air and converts it into a mixture of salts that can be used for marine carbon dioxide removal (sodium carbonate, sodium bicarbonate). To understand the chemical constraints of this method, the project examines the precipitation of different minerals in seawater and the best rate of adding the critical components. Marine species may differ in their response to the changes caused by ocean alkalinity enhancement. Part of this project synthesizes published data to assess how different species with varying calcification behaviors may respond to changes in seawater. Researchers will then evaluate the potential effects of ocean alkalinity enhancement on different habitats along the United States West Coast that incorporate both experimental data and field data. Lastly, the project emphasizes maintaining quality control and chemical validation throughout the research to ensure accurate and reliable results. 

Benefits of our work
This work builds and tests a pilot-scale system for carbon dioxide removal from a gas stream and investigates how the chemicals produced can be used to enable marine carbon dioxide removal. It evaluates the chemical and biological impacts of ocean alkalinity enhancement, contributing to the knowledge and implementation of sustainable strategies for carbon dioxide removal. “For marine carbon dioxide removal to be successful, it needs to happen soon, be environmentally safe, and to be economically viable. We hope to show all can be true together” says the project principal investigator Dr. Andrew Dickson of the University of California San Diego Scripps Oceanography.

Award amount: $995,891
Funding source(s): NOAA
Inflation Reduction Act funding? Yes
Duration: 3 years

Dr. Andreas Andersson, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Dr. Robert Richardson, Pacific Rim Design & Development
Dr. Nina Bednaršek, Oregon State University Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies
Dr. Richard A. Feely, NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory

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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