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Global Synthesis of the Status and Trends of Ocean Acidification Impacts on Shelled Pteropods

Citation: Bednaršek, N., R.A. Feely, G. Pelletier, and F. Desmet. 2023. Global synthesis of the status and trends of ocean acidification impacts on shelled pteropods. Oceanography 36(2–3):130–137,
Funding for RAF and NB was provided by the NOAA Ocean Acidification and Global Ocean Observing and Monitoring Programs and the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (OAP Contract Number NRDD 20848 and GOMO Fund Reference Number 100018302)

The accumulation of anthropogenic CO2 in the ocean has major ecological, socioeconomic, and biogeochemical impacts, with repercussions for the ocean as a critical carbon sink. Ocean acidification (OA) disproportionately affects marine calcifiers, among which pelagic zooplanktonic pteropods play a significant role in carbonate export. The pteropod, due to the susceptibility of its aragonite shell to rapid dissolution, is one of most vulnerable groups and a key indicator for OA regional monitoring, but its regional sensitivities have not yet been extrapolated over global scales. To delineate spatial and temporal changes in pteropod shell dissolution, global OA status and the OA rate of change were evaluated, based on gridded climatologies of observations and using a Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS) biogeochemical/​ecosystem model. Pteropods, which dominate in the polar and subpolar regions, are characterized by low aragonite saturation state and low buffering capacity, where extended pteropod subsurface dissolution is projected. We show that pteropods are most susceptible to OA in the polar regions, subpolar North Pacific, and eastern boundary upwelling system regions, particularly the California and Humboldt Current Systems. Rates of acidification and corresponding increases in pteropod shell dissolution are projected to be the fastest in the North and South Equatorial Currents. These are the regions with the greatest impacts on pteropods and biogeochemical implications.

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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