Ocean Acidification (OA) is a term used to describe significant changes to the chemistry of the ocean that occurs when the ocean absorbs carbon dioxide gas (CO2) and it reacts with seawater to produce acid. Although CO2 naturally moves between the atmosphere and the oceans, the increased amounts of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere since the industrial revolution means that more CO2 is being absorbed by the oceans, resulting in more acidic seawater. Ocean acidification is affecting the entire world’s oceans, including coastal estuaries and waterways.
Ocean and coastal acidification threatens human communities and economies that rely on healthy oceans. The annual value of oyster, clam and scallop harvests are estimated at $400 million in the U.S. Economists predict that unchecked acidification could decrease shellfish harvests and increase consumer prices — and have estimated economic losses of roughly $480 million per year by the end of the century. Risks are even greater for traditional fisheries of U.S. Native American tribes that rely on the sea.
Rising to Meet the Challenge
CeNCOOS supports and coordinates a network of ocean observing instruments — including moorings, shore-based instruments and autonomous underwater vehicles — aimed at better monitoring and predicting the impact that OA is having on California’s coastal marine environment.
- Working in close collaboration with an extensive group of partner organizations, we facilitate continuous access to relevant ocean measurements, models and integrated data products delivered to end users through our Data Portal.
- We developed the Oyster Conditions Dashboard, a forecast product designed to give growers a more detailed look at ocean conditions that could potentially impact their operations.
- We’ve partnered with the other West Coast Regional Associations — SCCOOS and NANOOS — to develop the California Current Acidification Network (C-CAN), which brings together scientists, commercial fishermen, shellfish growers and resource managers to better understand the impact ocean acidification is having on marine organisms and coastal habitats throughout the region.