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Ocean Acidification Research

Research Areas

Environmental monitoring, sensitivity research, adaptation response, education and outreach, and critical data collection for ocean acidification

Determining our nation's vulnerability to ocean acidification demands a trifecta of understanding: quantifying the environmental exposure of marine life to ocean acidification through monitoring and modeling of ocean chemistry, discerning the sensitivity of marine life to ocean acidification through biological response research and ecosystem models, and understanding the human dependence on organisms most impacted.

The Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring (FOARAM; 33 U.S.C. Chapter 50, Sec. 3701-3708)  Act established the NOAA Ocean Acidification Program and provided guidance and mandates for our mission. FOARAM was reauthorized as part of the CHIPS Act in 2022 with additional responsibilities that continue to shape our work.

NOAA's Ocean Acidification Program Supports Critical Ocean Acidification Research

The Ocean Acidification Program (OAP) pursues science to improve our understanding of where, how, and how fast the chemistry of the ocean is changing. Furthermore, knowing what impacts these changes have on marine life, people, and the local, regional, and national economies. 

This work aligns with NOAA’s mission to understand ocean change, share that knowledge, and conserve coastal and marine ecosystems. The OAP plays an integral role in maintaining long-term ocean acidification monitoring and advancing our knowledge of marine ecosystems sensitivity to acidification.  OAP facilitates educational opportunities and collaborations to raise awareness and action. Additionally, the OAP provides grants for critical research projects  on the socioeconomic impacts that can lead to potential adaptive strategies. The program coordinates activities with other agencies and appropriate international ocean science bodies.

Research Areas

Monitoring & Modeling
Environmental monitoring and modeling characterize ocean conditions so that it may be applied to assessing impacts to species, ecosystems and people.

Repeat hydrographic surveys, ship-based surface observations, and time series stations in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans allow us to begin to understand he long-term changes in carbonate chemistry in response to ocean acidification. Many divisions and programs within NOAA, partnering with federal and state agencies, and academic and private institutions enable this work. There are many approaches and platforms used to make these observations.

Biological Response

NOAA’s Ocean Acidification Program supports research focused on economically, ecologically, and culturally important marine species. We can use what we know about survival, growth, and physiology to explore how aquaculture, wild fisheries, and food webs may change as ocean chemistry changes.

Human Connections
The NOAA Ocean Acidification Program works to learn how to adapt to the consequences of ocean acidification and conserve marine ecosystems in the face of impacts.

Ocean acidification is a threat to food security, economies, and culture because of its potential impacts on marine ecosystem services. One of the first steps in developing adaptation strategies is to learn how sensitive organisms and communities are to ocean acidification. Knowing these sensitivities, we can better predict impacts of future change.  There after, communities can incorporate ocean acidification impacts into management plans and adaptation strategies. Furthermore, developing new technologies can help monitor and protect sensitive species, ecosystems, and impacted people in the future.

Education & Outreach
Education and outreach are vital to improving the public's awareness and understanding of ocean acidification.

Awareness is the first step in taking action to mitigate, prepare for, and adapt to the impacts of ocean acidification. Efforts aim to increase the general awareness that ocean acidification is happening now, but also the understanding state of our scientific knowledge and how to use it to create adaptive strategies. There are many programs within NOAA that are active in educating a variety of audiences about this and other issues including NOAA’s Office of Education, the National Sea Grant Program, the Climate Program Office, the Coral Reef Conservation Program, the National Marine Sanctuaries Program, and the various Fisheries Science Centers around the nation.

Data Management
We need efficient ways to manage and deliver data to understand changing ocean chemistry and its impacts on marine organisms and ecosystems.

The National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) serves as the focal point for NOAA Ocean Acidification data management through its Ocean Acidification Data Stewardship (OADS) project. A stewardship system at NCEI curates, archives, and makes ocean acidification data available.

Carbon Dioxide Removal
NOAA is poised to advance our understanding of carbon dioxide removal as an essential strategy to address climate and ocean change.

Carbon dioxide removal (CDR) aims to remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and store it underground or in the ocean. In addition to curbing emissions, CDR is now considered an essential approach for limiting global warming to 1.5 – 2 °C, which is a tipping point with expected major, irreversible ecological and social impacts. CDR methods that lower the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere also have the potential to slow it. Some marine CDR methods may have  local ocean acidification mitigation impacts that could support ecosystems and industry.

Get involved with ocean acidification research

The NOAA Ocean Acidification Program exists to meet the ocean acidification (OA) research and monitoring needs of the US. We have developed the NOAA OA Working Group as a way to facilitate these close working relationships. See how you can get involved to serve your community and participate in cutting-edge research. 

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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