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Research Area

Human Connections

Ocean acidification threatens food security, economies, and culture because of its potential impacts on marine ecosystem services. Connecting to the human impacts is essential for preparing for the consequences of our changing ocean.

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See our most recent news related to human connections.

Featured

NOAA OAP’s 2023 Accomplishments

NOAA OAP selects, funds, and manages high priority, high-quality research, monitoring, and outreach activities to understand how fast the acidification is changing, and impacts these changes have on marine life, people, and economies. Check out some of the 2023 accomplishment highlights.

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A vibrant coral reef is the background for the United States Ocean Acidification Action Plan, released December 10, 2023 at COP28
Featured

U. S. Ocean Acidification Action Plan Released

A Roadmap for the other National Ocean Acidification Action Plans The United States released the U.S. Ocean Acidification (OA) Action Plan during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) on December 10, 2023. This side event was co-hosted by NOAA Ocean Acidification Program, U.S. Department of State, and International Alliance to Combat Ocean Acidification (‘OA

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NOAA ship in background during the West Coast Ocean Acidification research cruise with a mooring measuring ocean chemistry in the foreground. Credit: NOAA
OA News

NOAA declares Commitment to UN Decade OARS Programme

On behalf of NOAA, the Ocean Acidification Program submitted a Commitment to the international Ocean Acidification Research for Sustainability (OARS) Programme on December 4, 2023. OARS is a UN Ocean Decade supported program dedicated to minimizing and addressing the impacts of ocean acidification (OA) through enhanced cooperation at all levels and is aligned with Sustainable

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How can we adapt to our changing ocean?

The NOAA Ocean Acidification Program (OAP) works to build knowledge people need to adapt to the consequences of ocean acidification and ecosystem impacts.

Forecasting

Put models and research into the hands of people who need it to make decisions and prepare for the consequences of ocean acidification. Forecasts that include ocean, coastal or Great Lakes conditions and sensitivity of species and ecosystems help predict the potential impacts to communities and economies.

Technology

Develop innovative tools to help monitor ocean acidification and mitigate changing ocean chemistry locally. Enable industries and communities to contribute to the science they need most.

Management

Use models, forecasts, and predictions as tools to facilitate management strategies that will protect marine resources and communities from future changes.

Modeling & Forecasting

See how ocean acidification affects people and communities.

Modeling

OAP funds modeling studies to advance our understanding of the impacts of ocean acidification on coastal ecosystems and fisheries.

Scientists can use a wide variety of models to project the potential progression of acidification in different regions, the impacts that changes in chemistry may have on marine life, and how these changes could affect a variety of ecosystem services including fisheries, aquaculture, and protection of coasts by coral reefs. For example, projections of ocean acidification can be incorporated into food-web models to better understand how changing ocean chemistry could affect harvested species, protected species, and the structure of the food web itself. Economic-forecast models can be used to analyze the economic impacts of potential changes in fisheries harvest caused by ocean acidification.

Economic Projections

Projections of the economic impacts of ocean acidification can be created by combining economic models with findings from laboratory experiments and ecological models.

These links can be made for port communities or specific fisheries through modeling changes in fish harvest. Researchers at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center have developed bio-economic forecasts for the economically and culturally important species red king crab. Researchers at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center are developing projections of how the economies of regional port communities might be altered by potential changes in West Coast fisheries caused by ocean acidification.

See our funded projects in human connections.

Calm sea with mountains on horizon and expansive sky in Ketchikan, Alaska. Credit: Phil Price, Flickr

Why we care:Alaskan Native communities rely on healthy marine ecosystems for work, sustenance and their way of life. Ocean acidification has documented impacts to marine life and these communities. An..

Spruce Island in the Kodiak region of Alaska. Bull kelp at water's surface with island in the background. Ocean acidification monitoring in this region helps prepare Kodiak Tribes for the impacts of ocean change. Credit: NOAA

Why we care:Alaskan Native communities rely on healthy marine ecosystems for work, sustenance and their way of life. Ocean acidification has documented impacts to marine life and these communities. Community..

Designing a framework for an ocean acidification vulnerability assessment in Puerto Rico through stakeholder interviews, science synthesis, and a regional workshop Why we careLocal and federal efforts (e.g., 4th National..

Calm sea with mountains on horizon and expansive sky in Ketchikan, Alaska. Credit: Phil Price, Flickr

Why we care:Alaskan Native communities rely on healthy marine ecosystems for work, sustenance and their way of life. Ocean acidification has documented impacts to marine life and these communities. An..

Spruce Island in the Kodiak region of Alaska. Bull kelp at water's surface with island in the background. Ocean acidification monitoring in this region helps prepare Kodiak Tribes for the impacts of ocean change. Credit: NOAA

Why we care:Alaskan Native communities rely on healthy marine ecosystems for work, sustenance and their way of life. Ocean acidification has documented impacts to marine life and these communities. Community..

Designing a framework for an ocean acidification vulnerability assessment in Puerto Rico through stakeholder interviews, science synthesis, and a regional workshop Why we careLocal and federal efforts (e.g., 4th National..

Technology

Developing innovative tools to help monitor ocean acidification and mitigate changing ocean chemistry locally

Phytoplankton create rich blooms of color in the Atlantic Ocean near South America in this enhanced color image from Dec. 2, 2014. The Patagonian Shelf Break is a biologically rich patch of ocean where airborne dust from the land, iron-rich currents from the south, and upwelling currents from the depths provide a bounty of nutrients for phytoplankton. The bands of color seen here not only reveal the location of plankton, but also the dynamic eddies and currents that carry them.
Image Credit: NASA/Norman Kuring; NOAA; DOD
Click on the technology area to learn about OAP's innovative funded research

Monitoring devices provide a hands-on tool for communities, industries and managers to adapt their practices when corrosive, or low pH, conditions occur.  The Ocean Acidification Program funds technology development on both the East and West coasts for monitoring devices. These tools allow shellfish hatcheries and grow out operations to know when corrosive conditions are present so that they can adapt their methods. These projects involve a private industry partner that could move the devices to commercial production. Complementing coastal monitoring, real-time data from offshore buoys now act as an early warning system for shellfish hatcheries, signaling the approach of cold, low pH seawater a day or two before it arrives in the sensitive coastal waters where young oyster larvae are produced. The data enabled hatchery managers to schedule production when water quality is good and avoid wasting valuable energy and other resources when water quality is poor. Other adaptation approaches taken by hatcheries have included adding soda ash to low pH waters to raise it to levels shellfish can tolerate.

In some cases, natural marine ecosystems and species may already have ways to shelter neighboring habitats and organisms from ocean acidification by absorbing carbon dioxide from the seawater.  Scientists at multiple NOAA facilities are investigating kelp and other blue carbon solutions as potential biological tools to draw down carbon dioxide from local waters.  OAP-funded scientists studied kelp for this application in Puget Sound, where it can grow side by side with shellfish hatcheries to manage harmful effects of ocean acidification.  Similarly, OAP-funded scientists are also evaluated the beneficial effects of seagrass for local populations of corals, which is leading to the development of coral reef management strategies to protect seagrass beds.

The United States Department of Agriculture and NOAA Sea Grant have supported research to develop oysters that are more resilient to ocean acidification. Through the Small Business Innovation Research program, NOAA has also funded work to identify and develop ocean acidification-resistant  strains of red abalone.

Research that helps us understand the genetic and molecular underpinnings of how species respond to ocean acidification can help people and industries adapt. OAP invests in ‘omics research – referring to genomic, proteomic, and other genetic and molecular approaches that give us a fuller picture of why and how a species respond to acidification. This work has helped elucidate how acidification impacts bay scallops, an important harvested species and analog for the valuable Atlantic sea scallops, and how they may respond to future conditions. Partnering with NOAA Sea Grant, oyster growers are able to identify vulnerabilities between different strains and type of oysters. 

Management Tools

Management strategies use information provided by research and tools that can be used to make sound decisions to effectively conserve marine resources. Baseline research about organism and community sensitivity to ocean acidification is incorporated into these strategies, in an effort to sustain these resources for the future.

Developing a Baseline
Management strategies use information provided by research and tools that can be used to make sound decisions to effectively conserve marine resources. Baseline research about organism and community sensitivity to ocean acidification is incorporated into these strategies, in an effort to sustain these resources for the future.
Models as Management Tools
The biological response research is then incorporated into models that can be used to create tools for managers to use so that they can test different scenarios on species’ populations and habitats. Modeling efforts led by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution are now being used to produce one of these tools for Atlantic sea scallop fisheries. The dashboard will allow managers to test the impacts of different management actions on scallop populations.
Forecasting Seasonal Acidification for the Shellfish Industry
In the Pacific Northwest, NOAA, the University of Washington, and shellfish industry scientists have formed a strong partnership to adapt to ocean acidification impacts that have already affected the shellfish industry. Together these researchers determined that acidification was threatening oyster production and offered an approach to address it. They installed equipment to monitor carbon chemistry at shellfish hatcheries and worked with hatchery managers to develop methods that protect developing oyster larvae from exposure to low pH waters. Early warning tools are now being used to forecast seasonal acidification conditions to enable shellfish growers to adapt their practices.
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Ocean acidification is a global challenge, and the most effective adaptation strategies are holistic, incorporating the knowledge and experiences of many sectors. As an answer to the difficulty of bridging geographic and professional divides, together with the Interagency Working Group on Ocean Acidification, NOAA helped launch the Ocean Acidification Information Exchange, an online community and discussion forum.

Connecting People Across Management & Disciplines

The OA Information Exchange is designed to make it easy  to connect and find information, with tools to post updates, share documents, media, links, and events with fellow members.

The site welcomes scientists, educators, students, policy makers, members of industry, and concerned citizens to help fulfill the mission of building a well-informed community ready to respond and adapt to ocean and coastal acidification. If you would like to join the conversation, please request an account at the OA Info Exchange.

Ocean Acidification Data Portal

The IOOS Pacific Region Ocean Acidification Data Portal provides a real-time data stream of ocean acidification data that can be used by shellfish growers, regional managers, stakeholders and the public. The portal can be used to make resource decisions and build adaptation strategies. 

See publications from our funded projects for human connections.

Citation: Ward, M. S., Ana; Levine, Arielle; Wolters, Erika Allen (2022). “California shellfish farmers: Perceptions of changing ocean conditions and strategies for adaptive capacity.” Ocean & Coastal Management 225(106155). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2022.106155 NOAA [GN# NA20OAR0170490]
Citation: Green, K. M., Ana K. Spalding, Melissa Ward, Arielle Levine, Erika Allen Wolters, Sara Luanne Hamilton, Lauren Rice (2023). “Oregon shellfish farmers: Perceptions of stressors, adaptive strategies, and policy linkages.” Ocean & Coastal Management 234. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2022.1064 NOAA grant [GN#NA20OAR0170490]
Citation: Friedlingstein, P., O’Sullivan, M., Jones, M. W., Andrew, R. M., Gregor, L., Hauck, J., Le Quéré, C., Luijkx, I. T., Olsen, A., Peters, G. P., Peters, W., Pongratz, J., Schwingshackl, C., Sitch, S., Canadell, J. G., Ciais, P., Jackson, R. B., Alin, S. R., Alkama, R., Arneth, A., Arora, V. K., Bates, N. R., Becker, M., Bellouin, N., Bittig, H. C., Bopp, L., Chevallier, F., Chini, L. P., Cronin, M., Evans, W., Falk, S., Feely, R. A., Gasser, T., Gehlen, M., Gkritzalis, T., Gloege, L., Grassi, G., Gruber, N., Gürses, Ö., Harris, I., Hefner, M., Houghton, R. A., Hurtt, G. C., Iida, Y., Ilyina, T., Jain, A. K., Jersild, A., Kadono, K., Kato, E., Kennedy, D., Klein Goldewijk, K., Knauer, J., Korsbakken, J. I., Landschützer, P., Lefèvre, N., Lindsay, K., Liu, J., Liu, Z., Marland, G., Mayot, N., McGrath, M. J., Metzl, N., Monacci, N. M., Munro, D. R., Nakaoka, S.-I., Niwa, Y., O’Brien, K., Ono, T., Palmer, P. I., Pan, N., Pierrot, D., Pocock, K., Poulter, B., Resplandy, L., Robertson, E., Rödenbeck, C., Rodriguez, C., Rosan, T. M., Schwinger, J., Séférian, R., Shutler, J. D., Skjelvan, I., Steinhoff, T., Sun, Q., Sutton, A. J., Sweeney, C., Takao, S., Tanhua, T., Tans, P. P., Tian, X., Tian, H., Tilbrook, B., Tsujino, H., Tubiello, F., van der Werf, G. R., Walker, A. P., Wanninkhof, R., Whitehead, C., Willstrand Wranne, A., Wright, R., Yuan, W., Yue, C., Yue, X., Zaehle, S., Zeng, J., and Zheng, B.: Global Carbon Budget 2022, Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 14, 4811–4900, https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-14-4811-2022, 2022. Received: 26 Sep 2022 – Discussion started: 29 Sep 2022 – Revised: 14 Oct 2022 – Accepted: 14 Oct 2022 – Published: 11 Nov 2022

Get involved with ocean acidification

The NOAA Ocean Acidification Program exists to meet the ocean acidification research and monitoring needs of the U.S. See how you can get involved to serve your community and participate in cutting-edge research and education and outreach. 

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ADAPTING TO OCEAN ACIDIFICATION

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:

FORECASTING

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

MANAGEMENT

Using these models and predictions as tools to facilitate management strategies that will protect marine resources and communities from future changes

TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT

Developing innovative tools to help monitor ocean acidification and mitigate changing ocean chemistry locally

REDUCING OUR CARBON FOOTPRINT

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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TAKE ACTION WITH YOUR COMMUNITY

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