Ocean Acidification: the consortium approach


Uses of coastal ocean resources---  for example fishing, recreation, trade, mining, energy production, and waste disposal--- interact, respond, and adapt with the ocean’s ecosystems. However climatic changes are creating unexpected changes to coastal ecosystems and economies. Ocean acidification, in combination with warming waters, low-oxygen zones, and shifting ocean currents, has the potential to drastically affect the distribution and ecology of marine resources.  Specific policy questions about ocean acidification can be answered with interdisciplinary research approaches.

Purple sea urchin larvae (strongylocentrotus purpuratus)

Recently metamorphosed purple sea urchin.
Photo: Gerado Amador.

Under normal climate conditions, fish and invertebrates along the west coast of the United States are accustomed to some variation in seawater acidity and oxygen levels as winds draw acidic and oxygen-poor, deep water to the ocean surface in a process called upwelling. Changes to upwelling winds and the chemistry of deep water offshore have intensified the stress that marine species face from low-oxygen zones and ocean acidification. These changes have the potential to severely disrupt the ecosystem and to cause major economic impacts.

With a strong combination of newly advanced laboratory tools (such as genomics and advanced culturing facilities), oceanographic sensor networks, and large-scale ecological research, scientists are revealing the impacts of ocean acidification on important life stages of marine species and coastal ecosystems.

Since its inception, PISCO has sought to understand how the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem (CCLME) functions and how it is affected by climate and human activities. It is unique in integrating multiple scientific disciplines to derive a comprehensive understanding of a coastal system at the large ecosystem scale. Understanding how climate and ocean chemistry changes will reshape ecosystems, fisheries, and coastal economies are core challenges for PISCO.

OMEGAS sign, OCean Margin Ecosystems Group for Acidification Studies

OMEGAS (Ocean Margin Ecosystems Group for Acidification Studies) was established in November with a new National Science Foundation award. Core campuses include:

By bringing together researchers with diverse expertise across disciplines and institutions, OMEGAS seek to meet demands for scientific information on ocean acidification across the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem (CCLME). A platform of intertidal and nearshore ocean pH and pCO2 sensors will provide critical information on current spread of ocean acidification across the CCLME. These oceanographic observations will be coordinated with genomic, physiological and ecological studies on the sensitivity and potential resilience of coastal ecosystems to continued changes in ocean chemistry.  Through this new platform of activities, research will inform an array of policy questions.


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