Tuesday, December 1, 2015

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Ocean acidification is a threat to food security, economies, and culture because of its potential impacts on marine ecosystem services. Information on how ocean acidification will impact ecosystem services can help guide how we adapt to and mitigate forecasted changes. 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 biological communities, and how these changes could affect a variety of ecosystem services including fisheries, aquaculture, and protection of coasts by coral reefs.  

The OAP funds modeling studies to advance our understanding of the impacts of ocean acidification on coastal ecosystems and fisheries.  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.  Scientists at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center have explored the impacts of ocean acidification on North Pacific food webs, fisheries, and protected species (Ainsworth et al. 2011, Busch et al. 2013a, Busch et al. 2013b, and Busch et al. 2010). Economic-forecast models can be used to analyze the economic impacts of potential changes in fisheries harvest caused by ocean acidification. Alaska Fisheries Science Center scientists applied the survival rates of red king crab from their laboratory studies on ocean acidification to a bio-economic model that simulates the Bristol Bay red king crab fishery to explore the implications of ocean acidification on the red king crab fishery.



In 2012, NOAA funded three multi-year research projects that link ocean acidification with fisheries and the coastal economies. Some results from these projects are now available. These research findings complement ongoing work within NOAA that monitors OA and determines the impacts on marine populations. “Predicting how marine ecosystems will respond to rising levels of CO2 in the years to come is an extremely challenging task.” says Libby Jewett, director of the NOAA Ocean Acidification Program. “We are excited to strengthen our approach through the development of these cutting edge forecasting tools.”

At the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Dr. Sarah Cooley and her colleagues used a series of models on environmental changes, scallop populations, and economic conditions to show the effects of future COscenarios on scallop harvests.(Learn more here).

*From Cooley et al. 2015.

At the State University of New York at Stony Brook, Dr. Chris Gobler and colleagues examined two species with contrasting susceptibility to OA: scallops and hard clams. These studies provide guidance on sustainable shellfish harvest levels and identify regions of estuaries that are most vulnerable to OA. (Learn more here.)


A team of scientists from the Northwest Fisheries Science Center, University of Washington, and Australia’s CSIRO led by Dr. Isaac Kaplan linked a large climate model with ecosystem and economic models. They are using these linked models to project future OA conditions, and trace the impacts of OA through the California Current food web into fish harvests and regional port communities. (Learn more here.)

These research awards complement ongoing work within NOAA that monitors OA and determines the impacts on marine populations.