Issue Area

Ocean Acidification

Overview

Ocean acidification (OA) is the name for the process of the oceans becoming more acidic due to increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This change threatens ocean ecosystems, the food chain, and the livelihood of coastal residents.

The acidic conditions created by CO2 emissions are harming fisheries, aquaculture farms, coastal recreation and diversity in the ocean. Animals like oysters and clams use a substance called calcium carbonate to build their shells. Acidic water erodes that calcium carbonate and makes the organisms fragile, much like osteoporosis in a human. Investing in long-term research will help determine specific impacts of OA and will lead to the development of effective management and mitigation tactics to preserve our economies and ecosystems.

NCEL Point of Contact
Dylan McDowell

Acting Executive Director

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Key Facts

The oceans are acidifying at a rate 100 times faster than any time in the last 200,000 years, and perhaps all of Earth’s history.

The ocean absorbs 25-30% of carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere, roughly 22 million tons per day.

The $1 billion US Shellfish industry is vulnerable to acidification, including Alaska fisheries that represent nearly 60% of US commercial catch and 100,000 jobs.

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Resources

NCEL Resources

Online Resources

The Ocean Foundation Ocean Acidification Resource Page

TOF has compiled an extensive list of resources to learn more about ocean acidification.

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NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory

This website highlights research and provides graphs and charts to demonstrate the impacts of OA.

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NOAA Chemistry 101

Fact sheet detailing the ocean chemistry behind ocean acidification, and what the main concerns are from this chemical change.

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Environmental Consequences of Ocean Acidification: A Threat to Food Security

The United Nations Environment Programme presents detailed examples how fisheries and aquaculture will be hurt by rising acidity levels in the ocean.

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