NOAA and its partners have released the first federal strategic plan to guide research and monitoring investments that will improve understanding of ocean acidification, its potential impacts on marine species and ecosystems, and adaptation and mitigation strategies.
Ocean acidification is an increase in the acidity of the ocean, which is happening because the ocean is absorbing increasing amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, the release of carbon dioxide from industrial and agricultural activities has increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The ocean absorbs about a quarter of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere each year.
Laboratory and field research has found that many marine organisms respond negatively to ocean acidification, especially those species that make shells or skeletons from calcium carbonate, such as oysters and corals. These negative effects include decreased growth and survival, as well as changes in physiology and metabolism. Ocean acidification is likely to affect not only these species, but also the industries, such as fisheries, aquaculture, and tourism, that depend on them.
The plan is a necessary early step toward successful implementation of the National Ocean Policy. It is available online at http://oceanacidification.noaa.gov/IWGOA.aspx.