Multiple documents have addressed the need for ocean acidification research, and five of these were regarded by the committee as both community-based, in that they included broad input from scientists, and forward looking, in that they made specific recommendations for research needs. The summary and recommendations from each report include:
Raven, J., K. Caldeira, H. Elderfield, O. Hoegh-Guldberg, P.S. Liss, U. Riebesell, J. Shepard, C. Turley and A.J. Watson. 2005. Ocean acidification due to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide. Policy Document. The Royal Society, London, 60 pp.
Summary: This report, produced by the UK Royal Society’s Working Group on Ocean Acidification, was the first comprehensive report on the chemical and biological impacts of ocean acidification. It provides a detailed summary of the effects of ocean acidification, and makes conclusions and recommendations for policymakers. The working group identified the following priority research areas:
• Identification of species, functional groups, and ecosystems that are most sensitive ocean acidification and the rate at which organisms can adapt to the changes
• Interaction of increased CO2 in surface oceans with other factors such as temperature, carbon cycle, sediment processes, and the balance of reef accretion and erosion
• Feedback of increased ocean surface CO2 on air-sea exchange of CO2, dimethlysulphide and other gases important for climate and air quality
• Large-scale manipulation experiments on the effect of increased CO2 on biota in the surface waters.
Kleypas, J.A., R.A. Feely, V.J. Fabry, C. Langdon, C.L. Sabine, and L.L. Robbins. 2006. Impacts of Ocean Acidification on Coral Reefs and Other Marine Calcifiers: A Guide for Future Research, report of a workshop held 18–20 April 2005, St. Petersburg, FL, sponsored by NSF, NOAA, and the U.S. Geological Survey, 99 pp.
Summary: The paper is the result of a workshop, sponsored by NSF, NOAA, and the USGS. Roughly 50 scientists participated from a wide range of disciplines. The aims of the workshop were to summarize existing knowledge on the topic of ocean acidification impacts on marine calcifiers, reach a consensus on what the most pressing scientific issues are, and identify future research strategies for addressing these issues. The report is intended as a guide to program managers and researchers toward designing research projects with the details and references needed to address the major scientific issues that should be pursued in the next 5-10 years.
• Develop protocols for the various methodologies used in seawater chemistry and calcification measurements
• Determine the calcification response to elevated CO2 in benthic and planktonic calcifiers
• Physiological research to discriminate the various mechanisms of calcification within calcifying groups, to better understand the cross-taxa range of responses to changing seawater chemistry
• Experimental studies to determine the interactive effects of multiple variables that affect calcification and dissolution in organisms (saturation state, light, temperature, nutrients)
• Combining laboratory experiments with field studies to establish clear links between laboratory experiments and the natural environment
• Long-term monitoring of coral reef response to ocean acidification, and better accounting of calcium carbonate budgets
• Monitoring of in situ calcification and dissolution in organisms
• Incorporating ecological questions into observations and experiments; e.g., effects on organism survivorship and ecology, ecosystem functioning, etc.
• Biogeochemical and ecological modeling to improve understanding of carbonate system interactions, and to guide future sampling and experimental efforts
Fabry, V.J., C. Langdon, W.M. Balch, A.G. Dickson, R.A. Feely, B. Hales, D.A. Hutchins, J.A. Kleypas, and C.L. Sabine. 2008. Present and Future Impacts of Ocean Acidification on Marine Ecosystems and Biogeochemical Cycles, report of the Ocean Carbon and Biogeochemistry Scoping Workshop on Ocean Acidification Research held 9-11 October 2007, La Jolla, CA, 40 pp.
Summary: This report is a result of the Ocean Carbon and Biogeochemistry (OCB) Scoping Workshop on Ocean Acidification Research sponsored by NSF, NOAA, NASA, and USGS. This report summarizes input from nearly 100 scientists in a comprehensive research strategy for four critical ecosystems: warm-water coral reefs, coastal margins, subtropical/tropical pelagic regions, and high latitude regions over immediate (2-5 yrs) and long-term (5-10 yrs) time scales. The key overall recommendations for research include:
• Establish a national program on ocean acidification research
• Develop new instrumentation for the autonomous measurement of CO2 system parameters, particulate inorganic carbon (PIC), particulate organic carbon (POC), and physiological stress markers
• Standardize protocols for manipulation and measurement of seawater chemistry in experiments and for calcification and other rate measurements
• Expand existing ocean CO2 system monitoring to include new monitoring sites/surveys in open-ocean and coastal regions, including sites considered vulnerable to ocean acidification, and sites that can be leveraged for field studies
• Establish new monitoring sites/surveys in open-ocean and coastal regions, including sites of particular interest such as the Bering Sea
• Progressively build capacity and initiate planning for mesocosm and CO2-perturbation experiments in the field
• Build shared facilities to conduct well-controlled CO2-manipulation experiments
• Perform global data/model synthesis to predict and quantify alterations in the ocean CO2 system due to changes in marine calcification
• Develop regional biogeochemical models and conduct model/data intercomparison analyses
• Establish international collaborations to create a global network of CO2 system observations and field studies relevant to ocean acidification
• Ensure that the research is designed to provide results that are useful for policy and decision making
• Initiate specific activities for education, training, and outreach
Orr, J.C., K. Caldeira, V. Fabry, J.P. Gattuso, P. Haugan, P. Lehodey, S. Pantoja, H.O. Pörtner, U. Riebesell, and T. Trull, M. Hood, E. Urban, and W. Broadgate. 2009. Research Priorities for Ocean Acidification, report from the Second Symposium on the Ocean in a High-CO2 World, Monaco, October 6-8, 2008, convened by SCOR, UNESCO-IOC, IAEA, and IGBP, 25 pp.
Summary: The Research Priorities Report resulted from the 2nd symposium on The Ocean in a High-CO2 World, held in 2008 in Monaco. The symposium was sponsored by SCOR, IOC, other international groups, and the U.S. NSF, and included 220 scientists from 32 countries to assess what is known about the impacts of ocean acidification on marine chemistry and ecosystems. The Research Priorities Report highlights new findings and details the research priorities identified by the symposium participants during discussion sessions on 1) perturbation experiments, 2) observation networks, and 3) scaling organism-to-ecosystem acidification effects and feedbacks on climate:
• Develop new instrumentation for autonomous measurements of CO2 system parameters, particulate inorganic (PIC), particulate organic carbon (POC), and other indicators of impacts on organisms and ecosystems;
• Maintain, enhance, and extend existing long-term time series that are relevant for ocean acidification; establish new monitoring sites and repeat surveys in key areas that are likely to be vulnerable to ocean acidification;
• Develop relaxed carbon measurement methods and appropriate instrumentation that are cheaper and easier, if possible, for high-variability areas that may not need the highest measurement precision;
• Establish a high-quality ocean carbon measurement service for those unable to develop their own measurement capabilities;
• Establish international collaborations to create a data management and synthesis program for new ocean acidification data as well as data mining and archival for relevant historical data sets;
• Work on developing an ocean acidification index (e.g., a CaCO3 saturation index based on a standard carbonate material);
• Initiate specific activities for education, training, and outreach.
• Controlled single-species laboratory experiments to look at species responses, to improve understanding of physiological mechanisms, and
to identify longer-term, multi-generational adaptation (both physiological and behavioral);
• Microcosms and mesocosms to elucidate community responses and to validate and up-scale single-species responses;
• Natural perturbation studies from CO2 venting sites and naturally low pH regions such as upwelling regions, which provide insights to ecosystem responses, long-term effects, and adaptation mechanisms in low-pH environments;
• Manipulative field experiments; and
• Mining the paleo-record to develop and test hypotheses.
Scaling from organism to ecosystems
• Determine which ecosystems are at the greatest risk from ocean acidification and which of these are most important
• Determine ecological tipping points that can be defined in terms of pH or carbonate ion concentration
• Determine which physiological processes are most important to the scaling issue
• Determine how impacts of ocean acidification scale from life stages and individuals to populations, ecosystems and biodiversity; assess biological interactions and fluxes across trophic levels
• Determine impacts of ocean acidification on fisheries, food production, and other ecosystem services; Increase integrated research involving physiologists, ecologists and fisheries scientists to determine food web responses
• Investigate how ecosystem-ecosystem linkages will be affected by ocean acidification (including pelagic-benthic linkages)
• Investigate the potential for behavioral adaptation (e.g., migration and avoidance) to ocean acidification?
Joint, I., D.M. Karl, S.C. Doney, E.V. Armbrust, W. Balch, M. Berman, C. Bowler, M. Church, A. Dickson, J. Heidelberg, D. Iglesias-Rodriguez, D. Kirchman, Z. Kolber, R. Letelier, C. Lupp, S. Maberly, S. Park, J. Raven, D.J. Repeta, U. Riebesell, G. Steward, P. Tortell, R.E. Zeebe and J.P. Zehr. 2009. Consequences of high CO2 and ocean acidification for microbes in the global ocean, Report of expert meeting at U. Hawaii, 24-26 February 2009 organized by Plymouth Marine Laboratory and Center for Microbial Oceanography Research and Education, 23 pp.
Summary: This report is a summary of a workshop attended by 24 scientists, predominantly marine microbial oceanographers, at the Center for
Microbial Oceanography and Education (University of Hawaii) in February 2009. The goal of the workshop was to assess the consequences of higher CO2 and lower pH for marine microbe and to define high-priority research questions. The report identifies ten important questions related to the effects of acidification on marine microbes, and attempts to indicate urgency and the likely scale of investment that will be required. The top ten priorities are:
• Agreement on best methods to manipulate seawater chemistry for biological incubations. Can specific changes/biological responses be isolated (e.g., pH versus pCO2 vs. carbonate ion)?
• Basic studies on how microbial physiology responds to pH change (e.g., internal cellular controls on pH). This may require development of new techniques (e.g., single cell manipulation).
• Accessing genomic information of how natural populations respond to pH change using metagenomic and metatranscriptomics approaches.
• Single species studies on CO2 and pH sensitivity across major groups (i.e., calcifiers, photosynthesizers, nitrogen-fixers, and heterotrophic bacteria).
• Comparison of ocean zones of high respiration (high natural pCO2) and tropical versus polar (cold water seas).
• Freshwater and estuarine microbes accommodate frequent and rapid natural pH change. Are marine microbes less adaptable to pH change?
• What are the time scales of adaptation (evolution) to higher CO2 and lower pH and can this be demonstrated in laboratory cultures?
• How will complex natural assemblages respond to higher CO2 and lower pH over time scales of years to decades?
• How will open ocean ecosystems structure respond to higher CO2 and lower pH? Can mesocosm experiments be extended to the open ocean?
• Mesoscale CO2-enrichment experiments (similar to iron-enrichment studies).