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A monthly surface pCO2 product for the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem

Citation: Sharp, J. D., Fassbender, A. J., Carter, B. R., Lavin, P. D., and Sutton, A. J.: A monthly surface pCO2 product for the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem, Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 14, 2081–2108,, 2022.

A common strategy for calculating the direction and rate of carbon dioxide gas (CO2) exchange between the ocean and atmosphere relies on knowledge of the partial pressure of CO2 in surface seawater (pCO2(sw)), a quantity that is frequently observed by autonomous sensors on ships and moored buoys, albeit with significant spatial and temporal gaps. Here we present a monthly gridded data product of pCO2(sw) at 0.25 latitude by 0.25 longitude resolution in the northeastern Pacific Ocean, centered on the California Current System (CCS) and spanning all months from January 1998 to December 2020. The data product (RFR-CCS; Sharp et al., 2022; was created using observations from the most recent (2021) version of the Surface Ocean CO2 Atlas (Bakker et al., 2016). These observations were fit against a variety of collocated and contemporaneous satellite- and model-derived surface variables using a random forest regression (RFR) model. We validate RFR-CCS in multiple ways, including direct comparisons with observations from sensors on moored buoys, and find that the data product effectively captures seasonal pCO2(sw) cycles at nearshore sites. This result is notable because global gridded pCO2(sw) products do not capture local variability effectively in this region, suggesting that RFR-CCS is a better option than regional extractions from global products to represent pCO2(sw) in the CCS over the last 2 decades. Lessons learned from the construction of RFR-CCS provide insight into how global pCO2(sw) products could effectively characterize seasonal variability in nearshore coastal environments. We briefly review the physical and biological processes – acting across a variety of spatial and temporal scales – that are responsible for the latitudinal and nearshore-to-offshore pCO2(sw) gradients seen in the RFR-CCS reconstruction of pCO2(sw). RFR-CCS will be valuable for the validation of high-resolution models, the attribution of spatiotemporal carbonate system variability to physical and biological drivers, and the quantification of multiyear trends and interannual variability of ocean acidification.

This research has been supported by grant nos. NA20OAR4320271 (CICOES) and NA19NES4320002 (CISESS) from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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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