Friday, April 18, 2014

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Because of its potential impacts on ecosystem services provided by marine ecosystems, ocean acidification is a threat to food security, economies, and culture. Scientists can use models to project the potential progression of acidification in different regions, the impacts that these changes in chemistry may have on biological communities, and how these changes could affect ecosystem services from fisheries and aquaculture to protection of coasts by coral reefs.  Understanding how ocean acidification will impact ecosystem services will allow informed decisions to be made about how we approach adapting to and mitigating the forecasted changes.   

The OAP is funding the development and use of modeling tools to further our understanding of the impacts of ocean acidification on coastal fisheries.  Scenarios of ocean acidification in food-web models allow us to better understand how changing ocean chemistry could affect the food web under study and fisheries embedded within it.  Scientists at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center have explored the impacts of ocean acidification on North Pacific food webs and fisheries using two types of food web models (Ainsworth et al. 2011, Kaplan et al. 2010, and Busch et al presentation). Economic-forecast models can be used to analyze the economic impacts of changes in fisheries harvest. 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 and used it to explore the implications of ocean acidification on the red king crab fishery.


NOAA recently funded three new research projects, that will link ocean acidification with fisheries and the coastal economies that depend upon them. 

At the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Dr. Sarah Cooley and her colleagues will use a series of models of environmental changes, scallop populations and economic conditions to show the effects of future CO2 scenarios on scallop harvests

At the State University of New York at Stony Brook, Dr. Chris Gobler and colleagues will examine scallops as well as clam populations, two species with contrasting susceptibility to OA. This study will provide guidance on sustainable shellfish harvest levels and identify regions of estuaries that are most vulnerable to OA

Drs. Isaac Kaplan, Shallin Busch, Paul McElhany, Chris Harvey, Jerry Leonard from NWFSC, Drs. Tim Essington and Al Hermann from the University of Washington, and Dr. Beth Fulton from CSIRO will link a large climate model with fish population and economic models to predict OA conditions and trace the impacts of OA through the Pacific food web into fish harvests and resulting economic impacts.

“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 ”.

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