Ocean acidification has the potential for profound effects on living marine life. Scientists have already demonstrated serious impacts on shell-building organisms, and adverse effects on the shellfish industry have been documented in the Pacific Northwest. In California, resource managers, tribes, and citizens are beginning to express concerns about the threat to biodiversity, ecosystems services, communities, and coastal economies.

Ocean acidification, or declining seawater pH, is caused by elevated levels of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) being absorbed by the ocean globally, including along California’s coast. Runoff of nutrient pollutants and changes in upwelling frequency and intensity can contribute to acidification at local scales.

The West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Science Panel is building a bold new knowledge-base to inform management decisions

 

COASTWIDE COLLABORATIONS ARE PROACTIVELY RESPONDING

There are opportunities for coast-wide collaborations to address this issue in advance of major impacts in California. Collaborative efforts underway include:

  • The West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Science Panel is an interdisciplinary group of scientists convened to provide decision makers with the knowledge needed to thoughtfully evaluate effective management actions on the West Coast. Dive deeper into the work of the Panel

  • Pacific Coast Collaborative, a partnership among leaders of California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, recently signed the Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy." Among the actions set forth in the plan is an effort to enlist support for research on ocean acidification and to take action to mitigate its impact. The PCC recently delivered a to President Obama and Prime Minister Harper to bolster regional and cross-border efforts to address this critical issue with enhanced federal support. Read the action plan

  • West Coast Governors’ Alliance on Ocean Health is pursing ocean acidification as a priority ocean and coastal health issue and vowed to employ the regional ocean observing system to help address it. Explore west coast leadership on ocean health

  • The California Current Acidification Network (C-CAN) is bringing industry, resource managers, and scientists together to advance understanding of ocean acidification and its effects on the biological resources of the US west coast. Discover who is part of this network

  • Ocean Margin Ecosystems Group for Ocean Acidification Studies (OMEGAS) brings together researchers with diverse expertise across disciplines and institutions to meet society's demands for scientific information on ocean acidification across the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem (CCLME). Read the latest research news

Pacific states call for stronger regional and cross-border efforts to address ocean acidification.

 

PUTTING THE MPAs TO WORK

California’s investment in a network of marine protected areas (MPAs) provides opportunities to study the early impacts of ocean acidification, while bolstering the resilience of California’s ocean ecosystems by minimizing other local stressors in the face of this emergent threat.

  ‘Getting Serious About the Ocean’s Invisible Threat’

 

Identifying Decision Makers’ Science Needs

California Ocean Science Trust is identifying priority science needs of decision-makers at multiple levels of governments around ocean acidification, among other ocean health issues. OST is working with the Ocean Protection Council to align key science needs with management decision points where additional scientific information will be most useful.

Find out more about the Science Needs Assessment on behalf of the West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Science Panel