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Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean (2010)

Chapter:6 A National Ocean Acidification Program

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Suggested Citation:"6 A National Ocean Acidification Program." National Research Council. 2010. Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12904.
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6

A National Ocean
Acidification Program

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There is growing evidence of changes in ocean chemistry and resulting biological and socioeconomic impacts due to the absorption of anthropogenic CO2 into the ocean, as summarized in chapters 2 through 5. The changes in ocean chemistry are already being detected, and because the relationship between atmospheric CO2 and seawater carbonate chemistry is well understood, future changes can also be projected. What is less predictable is the affect these changes will have on organisms, ecosystems, and society. However, there is strong evidence that acidification will affect key biological processes—calcification and photosynthesis, for example—and that it will affect different species in different ways. This will result in ecological “winners and losers,” meaning some species will do better than others in a lower pH environment, and ultimately, this will cause shifts in marine community composition and ecosystem services.

Acidification is happening globally and many ecosystems will be affected. Coral reefs appear to be particularly vulnerable because of the sensitivity of reef-builders to changes in seawater carbonate chemistry, compounded with other stressors such as climate change and overfishing. Coral reef ecosystems provide many critical resources that support a number of services, including fishing, recreation and tourism, and storm protection. They are also highly diverse ecosystems with intrinsic natural beauty whose existence alone holds high value for society. Individuals who manage coral reefs, as well as the local communities that rely on the reefs, are in urgent need of information that will allow them to mitigate and adapt to acidification impacts. Reefs are one example, but there are also many commercially-important fisheries and aquaculture species that

Suggested Citation:"6 A National Ocean Acidification Program." National Research Council. 2010. Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12904.
×

may be vulnerable to, or may benefit from, acidification. Calcifying mollusks and crustaceans, which are important species for both aquaculture and wild harvest fisheries, and fish habitats essential for many marine species (e.g., oyster reefs, seagrass beds), are other examples. As research continues, many other sectors, communities, and decision makers that could feel an impact from acidification are likely to be identified. A better understanding of these potential biological and socioeconomic effects than we have today, as well as an ability to forecast changes, is needed for fishery managers, industry, and human communities to plan and adapt.

CONCLUSION: The chemistry of the ocean is changing at an unprecedented rate and magnitude due to anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions; the rate of change exceeds any known to have occurred for at least the past hundreds of thousands of years. Unless anthropogenic CO2 emissions are substantially curbed, or atmospheric CO2 is controlled by some other means, the average pH of the ocean will continue to fall. Ocean acidification has demonstrated impacts on many marine organisms. While the ultimate consequences are still unknown, there is a risk of ecosystem changes that threaten coral reefs, fisheries, protected species, and other natural resources of value to society.

The U.S. federal government has shown a growing awareness of and response to concerns about the impacts of ocean acidification, and has taken a number of steps to begin to address the long-term implications of ocean acidification. Currently, there is no formal national program on ocean acidification; however, several federal agencies have shifted (or plan to shift) funds to ocean acidification activities (Ocean Carbon and Biogeochemistry Program, 2009a). The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) began studying the impacts of anthropogenic CO2 on the marine carbonate system in the North Pacific in the 1980s (Feely and Chen, 1982; Feely et al., 1984, 1988) and continues to expand its research and observational efforts (e.g., Feely et al., 2008; Gledhill et al., 2008; Meseck et al., 2007). NOAA, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have also provided extramural support for workshops, planning efforts, facilities, and research (Congressional Research Service (U.S. CRS), 2009; National Science Foundation, 2009; Paula Bontempi, NASA, personal communication). In the 110th and 111th sessions, the U.S. Congress demonstrated concern over the problem of ocean acidification, holding multiple hearings and passing the Federal Ocean Acidification Research And Monitoring (FOARAM) Act of 2009 (Congressional Research Service (U.S. CRS), 2009; P.L. 111-11). The FOARAM Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-11) calls for an interagency working group (IWG) under the Joint Subcommittee on

Suggested Citation:"6 A National Ocean Acidification Program." National Research Council. 2010. Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12904.
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Ocean Science and Technology (JSOST) to develop a strategic research plan and to coordinate federal ocean acidification activities.

CONCLUSION: Given that ocean acidification is an emerging field of research, the committee finds that the federal government has taken initial steps to respond to the nation’s long-term needs and that the national ocean acidification program currently in development is a positive move toward coordinating these efforts.

The FOARAM Act sets out ambitious program elements in monitoring, research, modeling, technology development, and assessment and asks the IWG to develop a national program from the ground up. Fortunately, the scope of the problem is not unlike others that have faced the oceanographic and climate change communities in the past; research strategies for addressing ocean acidification can be pulled from existing programs such as the European Project on Ocean Acidification (EPOCA) and other national and multinational ocean acidification programs (see Box 6.1); other large-scale oceanographic research programs such as the Joint Global Ocean Flux Study (JGOFS); and the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP). There have also been numerous workshops and reports that have outlined recommendations for acidification research at both the international level (e.g., Raven et al., 2005; Orr et al., 2009) and within the United States (Kleypas et al., 2006; Fabry et al., 2008a; Joint et al., 2009). Fabry et al. (2008a), for example, present comprehensive research strategies for four critical major ecosystems—warm-water coral reefs, coastal margins, subtropical/tropical pelagic regions, and high latitude regions—as well as cross-cutting research issues. The U.S. reports were supported by multiple agencies (NSF, NOAA, USGS, and NASA) and represent the input of a substantial community of U.S. and international researchers. The Ocean Carbon and Biogeochemistry (OCB) Program (http://us-ocb.org/; jointly sponsored by NSF, NOAA, and NASA) has been active in supporting ocean acidification research, and produced a white paper outlining the need for a U.S. Federal Ocean Acidification Research Program (Ocean Carbon and Biogeochemistry Program, 2009a). Finally, the components of a global ocean acidification monitoring program have been proposed by a large cohort of researchers from the international oceanographic community (Feely et al., 2010). Therefore, the committee had a wealth of community-based input upon which it could base its recommendations for a National Ocean Acidification Program.

CONCLUSION: The development of a National Ocean Acidification Program will be a complex undertaking, but legislation has laid the

Suggested Citation:"6 A National Ocean Acidification Program." National Research Council. 2010. Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12904.
×

BOX 6.1
Existing Ocean Acidification Programs

This box briefly describes three (of several) existing national and multinational ocean acidification research programs to show some similarities and differences in program elements. It also describes one program, the IMBER/SOLAS Ocean Acidification Working Group, which is not a primary research program per se, but instead works as a coordinating body.

European Project on OCean Acidification (EPOCA): EPOCA was launched as a result of the submission of a proposal to an open call by the European Union (EU). The overall goal is to advance understanding of the biological, ecological, biogeochemical, and societal implications of ocean acidification. It is a four year program which began in June 2008. The project budget is image15.9M, with a image6.5M contribution from the EU. The project plans were developed by representatives of 10 core partners and they define a complete project with goals and deliverables. EPOCA brings together more than 100 researchers from 27 institutes and 9 European countries. EPOCA has several advisory panels, including a Reference User Group which works with EPOCA to define user-related issues such as the types of data and analysis that will be most useful to managers. There is also a project office that coordinates EPOCA activities.

From: http://www.epoca-project.eu/

Biological Impacts of Ocean ACIDification (BIOACID): BIOACID is a German national initiative that came as an unsolicited proposal to the German Ministry of Education and Research. The purpose of BIOACID is to assess uncertainties, risks, and thresholds related to the emerging problem of ocean acidification at molecular, cellular, organismal, population, community and ecosystem scales. Planning began in 2007, led by a 6-member group and with a bottom-up, open competition approach among all interested German institutes and universities conducting marine-oriented research. The project began in September 2009 and is scheduled for three years (with the possibility of 3 additional years). The German government will provide 8.9M for the first three years. BIOACID involves more than 100 scientists and technicians from 14 German research institutes and universities.

From: http://bioacid.ifm-geomar.de/index.htm

United Kingdom (UK) Ocean Acidification Research Programme: The UK program was launched as a result of the submission of a proposal to an open call by the Natural Environment Research Council and the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs. The overall aim of the Research Programme is to provide a greater understanding of the implications of ocean acidification and its risks to ocean biogeochemistry, biodiversity and the whole Earth system. The science and implementation plans were written by an appointed 8-member team. Unlike EPOCA and BIOACID, the research will be determined through an open solicitation for individual proposals. The project will begin in mid 2010 and is scheduled for

Suggested Citation:"6 A National Ocean Acidification Program." National Research Council. 2010. Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12904.
×

5 years with £12M funding from the UK government. The project is being managed by representatives of the UK government with input from a scientific Programme Advisory Group.

From: http://www.nerc.ac.uk/research/programmes/oceanacidification/

IMBER/SOLAS Ocean Acidification Working Group: This working group was initiated jointly between the Integrated Marine Biogeochemistry and Ecosystem Research (IMBER) and the Surface Ocean Lower Atmosphere Study (SOLAS)—two international oceanographic research programs—as a subgroup of the Ocean Carbon working group which coordinates seamless implementation of ocean carbon research between the two programs. Unlike the other programs, it is not supporting primary research but instead will coordinate international research efforts in ocean acidification and undertake synthesis activities in ocean acidification at the international level. The 9-member subgroup was launched in September 2009.

From: http://www.imber.info/C_WG_SubGroup3.html

foundation, and a path forward has been articulated in numerous reports that provide a strong basis for identifying future needs and priorities for understanding and responding to ocean acidification.

An ocean acidification program will be a complex undertaking for the nation. Like climate change, ocean acidification is being driven by the integrated global behavior of humans and is occurring at a global scale, but its impacts are likely to be felt at the regional and local level. It is a problem that cuts across disciplines and affects a diverse group of stakeholders. Assessment, research, and development of potential adaptation measures will require coordination at the international, national, regional, state, and local levels. It will involve many of the greater than 20 federal agencies that are engaged in ocean science and resource management. Investigating and understanding the problem will necessitate the close collaboration of ocean chemists, biologists, modelers, engineers, economists, social scientists, resource managers, and others from academic institutions, government labs and agencies, and non-governmental organizations. It will also involve two-way communication—both outreach to and input from—stakeholders interested in and affected by ocean acidification. Ultimately, a successful program will have an approach that integrates basic science with decision support. In this chapter, the committee

Suggested Citation:"6 A National Ocean Acidification Program." National Research Council. 2010. Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12904.
×

describes some key elements of a successful program: a robust observing network, research to fulfill critical information needs, adaptability to new findings, and assessments and support to provide relevant information to decision makers, stakeholders, and the general public. Cutting across these elements are the needs for data management, facilities, training of ocean acidification researchers, and effective program planning and management.

6.1 OBSERVING NETWORK

Countless publications have noted the critical need for long-term ocean observations for a variety of reasons, including understanding the effects of climate change and acidification; they have also noted that the current systems for monitoring these changes are insufficient (e.g., Baker et al., 2007; Fabry et al., 2008a; Birdsey et al., 2009; National Research Council, 2009b). Currently, observations relevant to ocean acidification are being collected, but not in a systematic fashion. A global network of robust and sustained observations, both chemical and biological, will be necessary to establish a baseline and to detect and predict changes attributable to acidification (Feely et al., 2010). This network will require adequate and standardized measurements, both biological and chemical, as well as new methods and technologies for acquiring those measurements. It will also have to cover the major ecosystems that may be affected by ocean acidification, and specifically target environments that provide important ecosystem services that are potentially sensitive to acidification (e.g., fisheries, coral reefs). This network need not be entirely built “from scratch,” and the program should leverage existing and developing observing systems. Even if anthropogenic CO2 emissions remained constant at today’s levels, the average pH of the ocean would continue to decrease for some period of time, and research in the area would benefit from continuous time-series data. Thus the program should consider mechanisms to sustain the long-term continuity of the observational network.

6.1.1 Measurements

The first step in developing an ocean acidification observing network is determining the requirements for biological and chemical measurements, as well as standards to ensure data quality and continuity. For ocean acidification, requirements for seawater carbonate chemistry measurements are well defined and include temperature, salinity, oxygen, nutrients critical to primary production, and at least two of the following four carbon parameters: dissolved inorganic carbon, pCO2, total alkalinity, and pH. Methods used for these measurements are well established (Dick-

Suggested Citation:"6 A National Ocean Acidification Program." National Research Council. 2010. Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12904.
×

son et al., 2007; Ocean Carbon and Biogeochemistry Program, 2009b; Riebesell et al., 2010; see Chapter 2 of this report). As discussed in previous chapters, these values vary with depth and environment, and surface measurements alone will not provide a complete picture of conditions within the ocean. Measurements of chemical parameters should be made in different zones of interest, such as the photic zone, the oxygen minimum zone, and in deeper waters.

Unlike the chemical parameters, there are no agreed upon metrics for biological variables. In part, this is because the field is young and in part it is because the biological effects of ocean acidification, from the cellular to the ecosystem level, are very complex. While biological indicators specific to ocean acidification have not yet been defined, however, biological monitoring programs that serve a variety of applications could also be used to track responses to ocean acidification, and it would be beneficial to monitor general indicators of marine ecosystem processes to create a time series data set that will be informative to future efforts to identify correlations and trends between the chemical and biological data.

There are many potential measurements for understanding the biological response of marine ecosystems to acidification, and their relative importance will vary by ecosystem function and region. Some possible measurements include:

• rates of calcification, calcium carbonate dissolution, carbon and nitrogen fixation, oxygen production, and primary productivity,

• biological species composition, abundance, and biomass in protected and unprotected areas (Fabry et al., 2008a; Feely et al., 2010),

• the relative abundance of various taxa of phytoplankton (i.e., diatoms, dinoflagellates, coccolithophores),

• and settlement rates of sessile calcareous invertebrates (possibly commercially important species such as mussels and oysters).

Although at present we cannot predict which indicators will be informative for ocean acidification specifically, general indicators of changes in ocean and coastal ecosystems will have value for understanding changes that are a consequence of ocean acidification or other long term stressors, such as temperature. Monitoring of ecological parameters may also help researchers identify those species most vulnerable to ongoing environmental changes, including ocean acidification. As critical biological indicators and metrics are identified, the Program will need to incorporate those measurements into the research plan, and thus, adaptability in response to developments in the field should be a critical element of the monitoring program.

Resolution of the effects of ocean acidification on individuals, popula-

Suggested Citation:"6 A National Ocean Acidification Program." National Research Council. 2010. Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12904.
×

tions, and communities will require well-controlled manipulative experiments to assess their sensitivity and elucidate the underlying physiological mechanisms. Studies designed to understand which fundamental metabolic processes are affected by higher CO2 or lower pH are critical to clarifying which effects on marine populations are due to ocean acidification and which to long-term or acute environmental stressors. It should also be noted that to create a time series data set that is informative for efforts to identify correlations and trends between the chemical and biological data, chemical data must be collected whenever biological data are collected. Though chemical data may stand alone, understanding the effect of ocean acidification on biological species will require that both types of data are available for analysis. Additionally, as ocean acidification is expected to be a concern into the future, data collected today will likely be analyzed by many different researchers from different areas of expertise. To facilitate archiving and sharing of information between investigators and across disciplines, the Program should support the development of standards and calibration methods for both chemical and biological samples.

Investments in technology development could greatly improve the ability to routinely measure key chemical and biological parameters in the field with expanded temporal and spatial coverage. For ocean carbonate chemistry, current instrumentation for automated pCO2 measurements (using equilibrators and infrared detection) are robust, but similar instrumentation for continuous automated measurements of a second carbon parameter are also needed. Additional autonomous sensors could be developed for measuring particulate inorganic carbon (PIC) and particulate organic carbon (POC). There are also promising new technologies being developed for in situ pH measurements (e.g., autonomous spectrophotometric pH sensors, Seidel et al., 2008; solid state pH-sensing ion-selective field-effect transistor electrodes, Martz et al., 2008; basin-scale spatially averaged acoustic pH measurements, Duda, 2009). In the absence of direct synoptic measurements for carbonate chemistry characterization, proxy measurements have proven useful. For example, salinity and temperature have been successfully used to estimate global (Lee et al., 2006) and regional (Gledhill et al., 2008) alkalinity fields. Synoptic remotely sensed sea surface temperature measurements are available and complementary sea surface salinity measurements (SSS) should soon be available through NASA’s Aquarius mission and will allow for a better understanding of current temporal and spatial variability in ocean carbonate chemistry. The temperature/salinity/alkalinity relationship may however drift in the mid- to long-term in response to acidification; sustained large-scale alkalinity measurements will therefore be needed to ground-truth proxy methods if they are to be used in the long-term. Other

Suggested Citation:"6 A National Ocean Acidification Program." National Research Council. 2010. Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12904.
×

bio-optical sensors for in situ and remote sensing may also provide useful ocean acidification measurements. In addition, automated sensors for detecting biological parameters will need to be developed, including imaging and molecular biology tools, for detecting shifts in communities, both benthic and pelagic and across key marine ecosystems, and physiological stress markers of ocean acidification, including molecular biology tools, for key functional groups and economically important species (Byrne et al., 2010b; Feely et al., 2010). Finally, it will be important not only to develop new sensors, but also methods of deploying these on moorings, drifters, floats, gliders and underway systems.

CONCLUSION: The chemical parameters that should be measured as part of an ocean acidification observational network and the methods to make those measurements are well-established.

RECOMMENDATION: The National Program should support a chemical monitoring program that includes measurements of temperature, salinity, oxygen, nutrients critical to primary production, and at least two of the following four carbon parameters: dissolved inorganic carbon, pCO2, total alkalinity, and pH. To account for variability in these values with depth, measurements should be made not just in the surface layer, but with consideration for different depth zones of interest, such as the deep sea, the oxygen minimum zone, or in coastal areas that experience periodic or seasonal hypoxia.

CONCLUSION: Standardized, appropriate parameters for monitoring the biological effects of ocean acidification cannot be determined until more is known concerning the physiological responses and population consequences of ocean acidification across a wide range of taxa.

RECOMMENDATION: To incorporate findings from future research, the National Program should support an adaptive monitoring program to identify biological response variables specific to ocean acidification. In the meantime, measurements of general indicators of ecosystem change, such as primary productivity, should be supported as part of a program for assessing the effects of acidification. These measurements will also have value in assessing the effects of other long term environmental stressors.

RECOMMENDATION: To ensure long-term continuity of data sets across investigators, locations, and time, the National Ocean Acidification Program should support inter-calibration, standards development, and efforts to make methods of acquiring chemical and biological

Suggested Citation:"6 A National Ocean Acidification Program." National Research Council. 2010. Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12904.
×

data clear and consistent. The Program should support the development of satellite, ship-based, and autonomous sensors, as well as other methods and technologies, as part of a network for observing ocean acidification and its impacts. As the field advances and a consensus emerges, the Program should support the identification and standardization of biological parameters for monitoring ocean acidification and its effects.

6.1.2 Establishing and Sustaining the Network

A number of existing observing systems are already conducting open ocean carbon system measurements. These include existing time series sites (e.g., Hawaii Ocean Time-Series [HOT], Bermuda Atlantic Time-Series Study [BATS]) and repeat hydrographic surveys (e.g., CLIVAR/CO2 Repeat Hydrography Program). Some of the sites include regular biogeochemical and biological measurements; at the HOT and BATS sites; for example, vertical profiles of inorganic carbon chemistry, nutrient, and chlorophyll concentrations and the rates of biological primary production and sinking particle flux are measured approximately monthly. Additional oceanic time-series sites have been proposed (e.g., OceanSITES; Send et al., 2009).

There are also several existing marine ecosystem monitoring sites within the United States that are supported by various federal agencies, including the NSF Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) program and NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries (Table 6.1). Monitoring is also conducted within the National Estuarine Research Reserve System under a partnership between NOAA and the coastal states. In addition, EPA is mandated to conduct monitoring within certain sanctuaries (e.g., the Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary), and conducts the Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP). There also exist formal and informal networks of coastal marine laboratories that provide opportunities for assessing past historical conditions and trends, leveraging ongoing observation programs, and establishing new observational systems and process studies.

There are two additional ocean observing systems in development within the United States: the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) and the Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS). The NSF-supported OOI will provide a framework for sustained observations at four open-ocean sites in the north and south Atlantic and Pacific, a regional observing network off the Pacific Northwest, and a coastal pioneer array, initially to be deployed at the shelf-break off New England (Consortium for Ocean Leadership, 2009). The IOOS, a federal, regional, and private-sector partnership, provides potential observational opportunities through a sub-

Suggested Citation:"6 A National Ocean Acidification Program." National Research Council. 2010. Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12904.
×

stantial network of open-ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes measurement sites and moorings (Integrated Ocean Observing System, 2009).

Many of these existing chemical and ecological monitoring sites could serve as a backbone for an ocean acidification observational network. However, to understand and manage effects of acidification fully, new observational efforts likely will be required in additional locations, in particular for ecosystems that may be sensitive to acidification but are currently undersampled. Fabry et al. (2008a) identify four broad ecosystem areas that will require observations: warm-water coral reefs, subtropical/tropical pelagic regions, high latitude regions, and coastal margins. Within coastal regions, they highlight several specific areas: the Gulf of Alaska, western North American continental shelf, Bering Sea, Chukchi Sea, Arctic Shelf, the Scotian Shelf, Pacific coast of Central America, and the Gulf of Mexico.

While existing and developing observing networks obtain measurements relevant to ocean acidification, they were not originally designed with ocean acidification in mind and thus do not have adequate coverage of these regions. The ocean inorganic carbon observing network is primarily in the open ocean with a U.S. coastal system just being developed (Doney et al., 2004; Borges et al., 2009); in contrast, the ecological monitoring networks are almost entirely in coastal areas (see Table 6.1). Similarly, not all sites have adequate measurements of biological or chemical parameters relevant to ocean acidification. Current oceanic inorganic carbon monitoring programs do not always measure enough parameters to fully constrain the seawater carbonate system; additional inorganic carbon measurements could greatly increase the value of existing monitoring programs for understanding acidification (Ocean Carbon and Biogeochemistry Program, 2009b; Feely et al., 2010). Ecosystem monitoring sites measure a number of biological parameters, but have not yet been addressing acidification effects directly. The observing network can be further expanded into additional poorly sampled, but critical, coastal, estuarine and coral reef ecosystems by incorporating ocean acidification related measurements into existing long-term ecological monitoring studies (e.g., marine Long-Term Ecological Research Network sites, NOAA Marine Sanctuaries, the National Estuarine Research Reserve System). Some systems may require finer spatial and temporal resolution of observations to match the environmental variability in chemical and biological parameters (e.g., tropical coral reefs and estuaries). Fine-scale measurements may also be necessary and cost-effective in areas where critical services may be affected, for example in locales with intensive aquaculture.

The national ocean acidification network could also become a component of or partner with OOI and IOOS; this would allow the acidification network to leverage the assets of a developing integrated network

Suggested Citation:"6 A National Ocean Acidification Program." National Research Council. 2010. Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12904.
×

TABLE 6.1 Examples of Existing Federal Marine Ecosystem Monitoring Efforts that Could Be Leveraged for Ocean Acidification Observing and Research

Program Name Location
Long Term Ecological Research Stations (NSF)
California Current Ecosystem California
Florida Coastal Everglades Florida
Georgia Coastal Ecosystems Georgia
Moorea Coral Reef French Polynesia
Palmer Stations Antarctica
Plum Island Ecosystems Massachusetts
Santa Barbara Coastal California
Virginia Coast Reserve Virginia

National Marine Sanctuaries (NOAA)
Channel Islands California
Cordell Bank California
Florida Keys Florida
Flower Garden Banks Texas
Gray’s Reef Georgia
Gulf of the Farallones California
Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Hawaii
Monitor North Carolina (ship wreck)
Monterey Bay California
Olympic Coast Washington
Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale Hawaii
Fagatele Bay American Samoa
Stellwagen Bank Massachusetts
Thunder Bay Great Lakes

National Monuments (FWS & NOAA)
Papahimagenaumokuimagekea NW Hawaiian Islands
Rose Atoll American Samoa
Pacific Islands

Baker, Howland, Jarvis, Johnston, Kingman, Palmyra, and Wake Is.

Mariana Trench Northern Mariana Islands

of observing systems. The OOI and IOOS networks complement existing U.S. subtropical ocean biogeochemical time-series stations by expanding into temperate and subpolar open-ocean environments and coastal waters, ecosystems that are currently identified as undersampled in community assessments of ocean carbon cycle and acidification research needs (e.g., Doney et al., 2004; Fabry et al., 2008a).

Thus the existing network of ocean carbon and marine ecosystem observing sites and surveys, complemented by the ongoing develop-

Suggested Citation:"6 A National Ocean Acidification Program." National Research Council. 2010. Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12904.
×

ment of OOI and IOOS, will serve as a strong foundation upon which to build an ocean acidification observing network. However, the current network would be enhanced by adding monitoring sites and chemical and biological surveys in undersampled areas, particularly in areas of high variability (e.g., coastal regions), ecosystems projected to be vulnerable to ocean acidification (e.g., coral reefs and polar regions), and at depth. A community-based plan has been developed for an international ocean acidification observational network (Feely et al., 2010). The plan contains details on measurement requirements, information on data management, and an inventory of existing and planned monitoring sites and surveys. This document could serve as the basis for a national observing strategy.

CONCLUSION: The existing observing networks are inadequate for the task of monitoring ocean acidification and its effects. However, these networks can be used as the backbone of a broader monitoring network.

RECOMMENDATION: The National Ocean Acidification Program should review existing and emergent observing networks to identify existing measurements, chemical and biological, that could become part of a comprehensive ocean acidification observing network and to identify any critical spatial or temporal gaps in the current capacity to monitor ocean acidification. The Program should work to fill these gaps by:

ensuring that existing coastal and oceanic carbon observing sites adequately measure the seawater carbonate system and a range of biological parameters;

identifying and leveraging other long-term ocean monitoring programs by adding relevant chemical and biological measurements at existing and new sites;

adding additional time-series sites, repeat transects, and in situ sensors in key areas that are currently undersampled. These should be prioritized based on ecological and societal vulnerabilities.

deploying and field testing new remote sensing and in situ technologies for observing ocean acidification and its impacts; and

supporting the development and application of new data analysis and modeling techniques for integrating satellite, ship-based, and in situ observations.

Sustainability of long-term observations is a perpetual challenge (e.g., Baker et al., 2007). Given the gradual and long-term pressure of ocean acidification on marine ecosystems, it is important to ensure continuity

Suggested Citation:"6 A National Ocean Acidification Program." National Research Council. 2010. Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12904.
×

of an ocean acidification observing system for a decade or more, beyond the typical time period of many research grants. Lack of sustained funding models for ecological time-series is a significant issue (Ducklow et al., 2009), and innovative funding approaches will be necessary to ensure the sustained operations of the ocean acidification observational network. To be sustainable and efficient, the ocean acidification network will have to leverage, coordinate, and integrate with existing observing systems, other components of international ocean acidification observing networks, and other efforts to build national and international integrated ocean observing systems.

RECOMMENDATION: The National Ocean Acidification Program should plan for the long-term sustainability of an integrated ocean acidification observation network.

6.2 RESEARCH PRIORITIES

The previous chapters describe the current state of knowledge regarding ocean acidification and its impacts. There is not yet enough information on the biological, ecological, or socioeconomic effects of ocean acidification to adequately guide management efforts. Most of the existing research has been on understanding acute responses in a few species. Very little is known about the impacts of acidification on many ecologically or economically important organisms, their populations, and communities, the effects on a variety of physiological and biogeochemical processes, and the capacity of organisms to adapt to projected changes in ocean chemistry (Boyd et al., 2008). There is a need for research that provides a mechanistic understanding of physiological effects; estimates the lifelong consequences on growth, survival, and reproduction; elucidates the acclimation and adaptation potential of organisms; and that scales up to ecosystem-level effects taking into account the role and response of humans in those systems. There is also a need to understand these effects in light of multiple, potentially compounding, environmental stressors. For some systems, particularly corals, there is strong indication of impacts, but little information on how best to manage the affected system beyond reducing other stressors and promoting general resilience.

CONCLUSION: Present knowledge is insufficient to guide federal and state agencies in evaluating potential impacts of ocean acidification for management purposes.

The committee notes that ocean acidification research is a growing field and that there have been concerns over appropriate experimental

Suggested Citation:"6 A National Ocean Acidification Program." National Research Council. 2010. Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12904.
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design and techniques. For example, the interdependency of the inorganic carbon and acid-base chemistry parameters of seawater provides opportunities for multiple approaches, but also complicates the design of experiments and, in some cases, the comparison of results of different studies. This concern is expressed in the community development of The Guide to Best Practices in Ocean Acidification Research and Data Reporting, which provides guidance on measurements of seawater carbonate chemistry, experimental design of perturbation experiments, and measurements of CO2 sensitive processes (Riebesell et al., 2010). The use of appropriate analytical techniques and experimental design is obviously critical. To enable comparison among studies and across organisms, habitats, and time, the use of standard protocols may be necessary.

Several recent workshops and symposia have brought together ocean acidification experts to identify critical information gaps and research priorities. In particular, detailed research recommendations on specific regions and topics exist in five community-based reports: Ocean Acidification Due to Increasing Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide (Raven et al., 2005), Impacts of Ocean Acidification on Coral Reefs and Other Marine Calcifiers: A Guide for Future Research (Kleypas et al., 2006), Present and Future Impacts of Ocean Acidification on Marine Ecosystems and Biogeochemical Cycles (Fabry et al., 2008a), Research Priorities for Ocean Acidification (Orr et al., 2009), and Consequences of High CO2 and Ocean Acidification for Microbes in the Global Ocean (Joint et al., 2009). Fabry et al. (2008a) provide detailed recommendations for four critical marine ecosystems that include prioritization and timelines (immediate to long term). The committee believes this report provides adequate detail to appropriately balance short- and long-term research goals, as well as research, observations, and modeling requirements. Appendix D briefly summarizes these five reports and their overarching recommendations; the committee notes that the reports build upon each other and reflect a community consensus on research direction.

The committee surveyed these reports and compiled eight top research priorities, as well as some basic research approaches. The eight priorities are not ranked; the committee considers them complementary priorities to be addressed in parallel.

RECOMMENDATION: Federal and federally funded research on ocean acidification should focus on the following eight unranked priorities:

•  understand the processes affecting acidification in coastal waters;

•  understand the physiological mechanisms of biological responses;

•  assess the potential for acclimation and adaptation;

•  investigate the response of individuals, populations, and communities;

Suggested Citation:"6 A National Ocean Acidification Program." National Research Council. 2010. Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12904.
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•  understand ecosystem-level consequences;

•  investigate the interactive effects of multiple stressors;

•  understand the implications for biogeochemical cycles; and

•  understand the socioeconomic impacts and inform decisions.

The research priorities are described below in greater detail. They are complementary to and synergistic with the observational priorities presented in Section 6.1 (Observing Network). Both elements are critical to addressing the ocean acidification questions facing the nation, and the two approaches will benefit from close integration during the planning, implementation, and synthesis phases of the program. For example, long-term time-series and coastal- and basin-scale surveys provide an essential context for short-duration field process studies; in turn, laboratory and field experiments provide invaluable mechanistic information for interpreting the temporal and spatial patterns found from observational networks (Doney et al., 2004). Because ocean acidification is an emerging scientific endeavor, the research priorities presented below cannot be expected to be as detailed or explicit as the observational priorities from Section 6.1. They form a framework of key questions that should be addressed, and the details of the experimental approaches and designs needed to solve these questions are best left to the creativity and innovation of individual researchers and research teams. Further, new priorities will undoubtedly arise over time based on new discoveries. Given the varying missions of the federal agencies that will fund and undertake acidification research, the committee has intentionally described broad priority areas derived from these reports; however, the committee encourages the agencies to refer to the reports for additional guidance.

6.2.1 Understand the Processes Affecting Acidification in Coastal Waters

Coastal margins are already subject to extreme variability in acid-base chemistry due to natural and anthropogenic inputs such as acidic discharge of river water (Salisbury et al., 2008) and atmospheric deposition of nitrogen and sulfur (Doney et al., 2007), and eutrophication of coastal waters from elevated river nutrient inputs due to land-use changes and agriculture (Borges and Gypens, 2010). However, the processes affecting the variability in coastal carbonate chemistry are presently not well understood, and better understanding of these processes will be necessary to predict and manage the responses of important organisms, ecosystems, and industries in coastal waters.

For example, the pH variability and range that a particular coastal location experiences may be strongly affected by fresh water runoff, which

Suggested Citation:"6 A National Ocean Acidification Program." National Research Council. 2010. Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12904.
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tends to have higher dissolved CO2 concentrations, and hence lower pH, than ocean water. Coastal pH is also affected by variations related to the physical and chemical dynamics of the ocean water column, such as variations in upwelling intensity and source water depth. In general, deep, old waters are the most acidic ocean waters, but because they have not been in contact with the atmosphere for some time, there is little invasion of fossil fuel CO2. However, the lifetime of waters in the thermocline of the ocean is measured in decades, so some acidification of upwelling source waters by anthropogenic CO2 is expected and detected already, and acidification of this old water is projected to increase strongly in coming decades (Feely et al., 2008; see also Chapter 2). Field surveys and synoptic reconstructions based on satellite data are only now revealing this variability and the mechanisms driving it; additional research and observations will improve understanding of oceanographic and hydrological forcing of pH variability in coastal regions, which provide a wealth of ecosystem services and are already under tremendous stress.

Experimental research is also needed to characterize the impact of reduced carbonate ion concentrations and saturation states on non-living calcium carbonate particles, sediments, and reef structures. Laboratory and field studies indicate that the dissolution rates of unprotected carbonate materials increases sharply as the calcium carbonate saturation state drops below 1.0. In the water column, the shoaling of the saturation horizons and enhanced dissolution of sinking particles could alter the downward transport of food particles, carbon, and other materials to the subsurface ocean. In coastal environments, dissolution or weathering of carbonate sediments could partially buffer the effects of ocean acidification, but the faster dissolution rates could also lead to the reduction and eventual disappearance of reef structures that are valuable habitats.

6.2.2 Understand the Physiological Mechanisms of Biological Responses

Studies have shown effects of changes in the carbonate system on calcification, photosynthesis, carbon and nitrogen fixation, reproduction, and a range of other metabolic processes (see Chapter 3). However, the underlying mechanisms for these responses remain unclear in many cases. While data on the overall physiological responses of various organisms to acidification are useful, they are difficult to interpret and generalize without a fundamental understanding of the underlying chemical or biochemical mechanisms. An important aspect of mechanistic studies is that they may be useful in establishing fundamental critical thresholds beyond which the biochemical machinery of organisms cannot cope with the change in particular environmental parameters.

Suggested Citation:"6 A National Ocean Acidification Program." National Research Council. 2010. Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12904.
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A striking example of a need for mechanistic studies is that of calcification—the biogenic formation of calcium carbonate minerals. Over the last few years, it has become clear that the apparently simple response of calcifying organisms to ocean acidification is a product of complex biochemical processes (see Chapter 3). Continued refinement of the understanding of how organisms such as coccolithophores or corals utilize carbon and precipitate carbonate minerals will improve the ability to predict organism responses and could eliminate exhaustive laboratory testing on a species by species basis.

A suite of improved genomic, molecular biological, biochemical, and physiological approaches using representative taxa are needed to better elucidate the mechanisms underlying those biological processes that show a response to ocean acidification. Particular examples of such processes, as highlighted in Chapter 3, include photosynthesis and phytoplankton carbon concentrating mechanisms, pathways for calcification, and physiological controls on acid-base chemistry. Mechanistic studies will also facilitate the development and interpretation of physiological stress markers needed as part of the observing system. But basic molecular and genetic tools are generally not available for marine organisms. Extending the genomic and proteomic data base to key species and developing new molecular tools, such as genetic transformation protocols for those species, would greatly enhance the ability to perform fundamental studies on marine organisms.

6.2.3 Assess the Potential for Acclimation and Adaptation

Acclimation is the process by which an organism adjusts to an environmental change that gives individuals the ability to tolerate some range of environmental variability. Though focused on the response of individuals to survive stress, survival of individuals can lead to population-level effects. The potential for individuals of most species to acclimate to higher CO2 and lower pH is not known, but will become increasingly important as ocean CO2 levels rise. Adaptation is the ability of a population to evolve over successive generations to become better suited to its habitat. Adaptation to changing ocean chemistry is likely on some level for most taxa that have sufficient genetic diversity to express a range of tolerance for ocean acidification. It remains unknown whether populations of most species possess both the genetic diversity and a sufficient population turnover rate to allow adaptation at the expected rate and magnitude of future pH/pCO2 changes.

The persistence of various taxa under increasing ocean acidification will depend on either the capacity for acclimation (plasticity in phenotype within a generation) or adaptation (plasticity in genotype over successive

Suggested Citation:"6 A National Ocean Acidification Program." National Research Council. 2010. Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12904.
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generations) or a combination of both. The relative capabilities of various taxa in terms of both acclimation and adaptation will likely influence the composition of marine communities and therefore result in a range of consequences for marine ecosystems. Currently, too little is known about the ability of marine species to acclimate and adapt to ocean acidification to allow for assessments or predictions about how individuals and populations will respond over time. A greater understanding of these topics would help fill the gaps between physiological studies and population and community-level effects.

6.2.4 Investigate the Response of Individuals, Populations, and Communities

Well-controlled experiments, including perturbation experiments, observational studies (i.e., natural experiments) that exploit naturally-occurring spatial or temporal gradients or differences in ocean carbonate chemistry, and long-term observations of ecosystem responses to developing ocean acidification, are needed to investigate the sensitivity of individuals, populations, and communities to ocean acidification. Available information on the biological effects of acidification is currently limited to a few model organisms. While useful, this incomplete data set makes any forecast or assessment of possible impacts of acidification subject to error because of the strong potential for differential sensitivities to acidification among taxa. Extending experimentation to a range of representative organisms from key taxa in potentially affected ecosystems would allow for the identification of species or phyla that are particularly sensitive or insensitive to acidification. This is, of course, also the case for commercially important fish and shellfish. For aquaculture, it would be useful to identify tolerant subpopulations that may be used for selective breeding. In the case of deep sea ecosystems, about which very little is known, acquiring basic data on the effects of acidification on taxa representative of major phyla is an essential first step. There are clear indications that the sensitivity of higher organisms to acidification is often greater during early life stages. The evaluation of the sensitivity of various species to acidification must thus include due consideration of the life histories of these species. Experiments designed to detect effects on multiple life stages and on adaptation and acclimation potential are thus essential.

The present knowledge of pH and pCO2 sensitivities of marine organisms is based almost entirely on short-term perturbation experiments. Interpreting and extrapolating such data requires a careful consideration of time scales. For example, the long-term success of organisms depends equally on their ability to overcome non-productive periods, such as seasonal low light or low nutrient periods, as on rapid growth during

Suggested Citation:"6 A National Ocean Acidification Program." National Research Council. 2010. Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12904.
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productive periods. As indicated by some experiments, the sensitivities of organisms to acidification may depend on the duration of exposure. Some organisms may be able to withstand the stress for only short exposure times; others may be able to acclimate or the population may adapt over long periods. In addition, measured positive and negative effects of ocean acidification on specific physiological processes may not always result in a net lifelong benefit or harm for the individual. There is thus a need to design and carry out acidification experiments that test the effect of exposure time and consider cumulative effects over the entire lifespan of an organism.

Therefore, manipulative experiments are required on a variety of scales, from laboratory culture incubations of single species to mesocosms and in situ perturbations with natural assemblages. Where feasible, it will be important to expand classical dose-response studies to encompass long-term and multi-generational high-CO2 exposure experiments. It will also be necessary to design these studies to allow for reproduction and genetic recombination to test for (1) acclimation and adaptation potential and (2) cross-generational effects (those emerging in offspring generations). The use of paleo analogs and the improvement of paleo proxies may help to cover evolutionary timescales of longer-lived organisms.

6.2.5 Understand Ecosystem-level Consequences

There is little information on how the effects of ocean acidification on individual species will cascade through food webs, ultimately affecting the structure and function of ecosystems. Possible mechanisms for the transmission of the effects of ocean acidification through ecosystems include changes in microbial processes, nutrient recycling, species competition, species symbioses, calcium carbonate production, diseases, and others. In some cases, effects can be transmitted from remote locations. For example, a change in upper ocean productivity and plankton composition could affect deep-sea organisms through a change in the downward flux of organic matter even before the deep sea experiences acidification. Particularly difficult is the problem of predicting possible regime shifts (e.g., the collapse of a fishery or the shift from a coral-dominated to an algal-dominated system) which result from poorly understood nonlinearities in the internal dynamics of ecosystems. Future research on observations that will allow detection of indicators of regime shifts could help managers to anticipate shifts before they occur (de Young et al., 2008; Scheffer et al., 2009) and take action to either avoid them or cope with them.

Because resilience allows ecosystems to resist change, another important research challenge is how to maintain or increase resilience in marine ecosystems despite continued ocean acidification, occurring alongside

Suggested Citation:"6 A National Ocean Acidification Program." National Research Council. 2010. Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12904.
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increases in temperature and other stressors. To promote resilience in ecosystems threatened by ocean acidification, it will be important to understand what, when, and how keystone species or key functional groups will be affected. Ocean acidification will not only cause declines in some species, but increases in others; ways to understand the effects of both of these shifts need to be considered in future research strategies.

A suite of complementary approaches at various scales are needed to better understand and perhaps even predict ecosystem responses to acidification. These include controlled laboratory experiments on single organisms or cultures, bottle incubation microcosm experiments with natural microbial communities, mesocosm experiments in large enclosures, studies of natural high CO2 environments, and field surveys along gradients in carbonate chemistry. In addition, modeling studies can be used to integrate our knowledge of physical, chemical, and biological processes to large scales. As illustrated in Figure 6.1, all these approaches have their advantages and inherent limitations. Whereas small-scale incubation experiments, also known as culture experiments, are well controlled and allow for high replication, they lack trophic complexity and reality. At the other extreme, in situ mesocosm and open water experiments allow for trophic complexity, but they are still limited in their spatial and temporal scales, allow for only a small number of replicates, and provide limited control of environmental conditions. Studies along natural, temporal, and spatial CO2 gradients and in systems with high CO2 variability, such as natural CO2 vents, upwelling systems, coastal waters, and poorly buffered seas can provide the basis to help infer the response of marine ecosystems to future ocean acidification. These studies have the advantage of covering the “real” world, but they rarely approximate the actual ecosystems of interest and the data interpretation is often confounded by other variables. The insight gained from modeling studies is currently limited by imperfect knowledge of processes and parameters that are included in the models. To supplement these approaches, it might be possible in some cases to adapt to particular ocean ecosystems such as coral reefs the whole ecosystem manipulation approach that has been used extensively in terrestrial systems, particularly in lakes. In addition to examining the effects of ocean acidification, ecosystem studies can be designed to assess the efficacy and environmental consequences of ocean carbon management approaches including ocean acidification mitigation. Finally, insight into possible thresholds and tipping points may come from studies of other systems that undergo regime shifts.

Progress on understanding the future consequences of ocean acidification for marine ecosystems will require innovative methods for laboratory and ocean research and observation. Because studies of whole ecosystems are technically difficult, particularly in ocean settings, these

Suggested Citation:"6 A National Ocean Acidification Program." National Research Council. 2010. Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12904.
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image

FIGURE 6.1 Experimental approaches with indication of their respective strengths and weaknesses. Photographs at top show phytoplankton bottle experiments in a culture chamber (left, courtesy of Kai Schulz, IFM-GEOMAR), cold-water corals in experimental aquaria (center left, courtesy of Armin Form, IFM-GEOMAR), an offshore mesocosm experiment in the Baltic Sea in spring 2009 (center right, Ulf Riebesell, IFM-GEOMAR), and a natural CO2 venting site off Naples in the Mediterranean Sea (right, R. Rodolfo-Metalpa, reprinted with permission from Macmillan Publishers Ltd., Riebesell, 2008, Nature). (Gattuso et al., 2009)

types of studies will require coordination during planning and execution, perhaps including a ‘task force’ approach for target ecosystems. For example, research on an important and potentially vulnerable fishery (e.g., cod, salmon, and sardine/anchovy) may benefit from a coordinated research program including elements such as:

• overlap with the regional ocean acidification observation network;

• field studies documenting changes in ecosystem structure and function over natural pH gradients;

• mesocosm experiments to understand the response of phytoplankton and micrograzer communities to ocean acidification;

Suggested Citation:"6 A National Ocean Acidification Program." National Research Council. 2010. Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12904.
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• laboratory experiments on the performance and survival of key food web taxa over multiple life history stages in response to ocean acidification;

• field and laboratory studies of the effects of ocean acidification on early life history phases and adults of the target fishery species; and

• whole ecosystem manipulation studies (if possible).

This approach could increase the value of focused experimental and observational studies and may be a key approach in understanding critical links in ecosystem function that are sensitive to ocean acidification.

6.2.6 Investigate the Interactive Effects of Multiple Stressors

The problem of ocean acidification is intrinsically one that involves multiple stressors (Miles, 2009). First, the increase in CO2 concentration and the decrease in the pH and carbonate ion concentration occur simultaneously and cause a variety of other chemical changes in the chemistry of seawater. Organisms subjected to ocean acidification must also cope with the other effects of increasing atmospheric CO2 on the climate, such as warming and increased stratification of surface waters. And, of course, marine ecosystems are affected by a variety of human activities such as fishing or pollution of coastal waters.

It is inherently difficult to study the interaction of ocean acidification with other stressors such as warming or expanding hypoxia on marine ecosystems, if only because of the large number of parameter combinations that need to be studied. In addition, environmental stresses often act synergistically, as illustrated by the simultaneous effects of high temperature events and acidification on reef building corals, or acidification and hypoxia on deep-sea crabs. For the same reason, it may also be difficult to assign any future changes in the ocean biota to a particular cause such as a decrease in pH or a decrease in carbonate ion concentration, but it will also be important to understand how acidification will impact organisms and ecosystems in light of these multiple stressors.

The perplexing problem of multiple stressors will require demanding and perhaps innovative experimental designs. In addition to factorial experiments, carefully constructed cross-site comparisons, fundamental studies of mechanisms, and synthetic modeling efforts may prove valuable. As a whole, the field would benefit from the development and discussion of unifying concepts as foundations for research on stressors that could encompass a range of efforts, from the molecular to the ecosystem level. Such a conceptual base would enable identification of similarities and differences across taxa which would be of value to the field.

Suggested Citation:"6 A National Ocean Acidification Program." National Research Council. 2010. Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12904.
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6.2.7 Understand the Implications for Biogeochemical Cycles

Changes in ocean chemistry and biology due to ocean acidification have the potential to alter the oceanic cycles of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, trace metals, other elements, and trace gases. Many of the biogeochemical priorities identified in community research plans can be grouped broadly into several interrelated themes. Ocean acidification will likely affect ocean CO2 storage, though magnitude of the perturbation is not known because of possible counter-balancing effects. Reduced water-column and benthic calcification and faster sub-surface calcium carbonate dissolution will result in increases in surface ocean alkalinity, which should in turn enhance oceanic uptake of atmospheric CO2. CO2 storage is also influenced by biological export production, which may decline in some locations due to shifts away from calcifying plankton and thus reduced ballast material for sinking particles. On the other hand, export production may grow in other locations from elevated nitrogen fixation and possibly higher carbon to nutrient elemental ratios for biologically produced particulate material. These same processes would also significantly alter the subsurface distribution and cycling of carbon, nutrients and oxygen. In particular, it has been argued that elevated carbon to nutrient ratios in sinking particles could drive an expansion of tropical and subtropical oxygen minimum zones and increase marine denitrification. Ocean acidification could also influence climate and atmospheric chemistry via altered marine trace gas emissions (e.g., nitrous oxide, dimethylsulfide, and methyl halides). Finally, the impact of reduced pH on trace metal bioavailability and the chemical reactivity of dissolved organic matter are poorly understood at present.

More research is needed to understand the mechanisms governing these biogeochemical impacts and the magnitudes of the overall effects. Observations of natural systems and manipulative experiments in laboratory and field settings are essential approaches for understanding the effects of ocean acidification on biogeochemical cycles. Numerical models also provide an important tool for quantifying impacts on regional and global scales, exploring interactions among different chemical, physical and biological processes, testing hypothesis, developing projections of future behavior, and exploring feedbacks between ocean dynamics and the larger Earth system and climate. An understanding of these changes could also be informed by studying the geological record of ocean acidification. New proxy measurements, such as boron isotopes, give the promise of an estimate of surface and deep ocean pH changes over time. Although not analogous, the geological record might provide some insights on the impact of ocean acidification through quantification of the marine ecological disruption of corals, the benthos, and the plankton in the ocean and shelf environments.

Suggested Citation:"6 A National Ocean Acidification Program." National Research Council. 2010. Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12904.
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6.2.8 Understand the Socioeconomic Impacts and Inform Decisions

To promote effective and informed decision making, it will be critical to integrate socioeconomic research—both for and on decision support—with natural science research. Research is needed to identify socioeconomic impacts by sector and region, to predict time frames of impacts, and to understand how to increase adaptability and resilience of socioeconomic systems. This information will enable individuals, organizations, and communities to plan for and adapt to the impacts of ocean acidification. Quantifying the cost to society of ocean acidification—its effect on the economic and social value of affected marine resources—is necessary to prioritize research efforts and decide on possible mitigation or adaptation strategies. Performing these analyses will need to be an iterative process that builds on the available research and understanding of the scope of the potential impact of acidification. As more research is performed, the boundaries of the socioeconomic analyses will shift, and research priorities may need to be adjusted.

It is important to remember that standard economic methods can be applied to market goods such as seafood, but a major part of the value of the marine resources that may be affected derives from non-market goods such as recreation or ecosystem services. These will require the use of valuation methods adapted to each type of good. Because non-market valuation studies are expensive, it may be useful to use benefit transfer methods based on studies in other areas. The impact of ocean acidification is likely to last far in the future so that valuation of its economic and social cost will need to give due consideration both to the likely increase in value of some of the affected resources in the future and to the choice of appropriate discount rate.

Understanding, predicting, and valuing impacts of ocean acidification on marine ecosystems are only the first steps. Research is also needed to improve strategies and approaches for marine ecosystem management (see section 6.3). Communities in areas with affected marine resources may be highly dependent on them both for income and sustenance. There is thus a need to assess vulnerability and adaptation capabilities of these communities over different time frames. Vulnerability assessments for fishing communities are already called for as a normal input to regulatory review for fisheries management (Clay and Olson, 2008); however, they may tend to take a short term outlook as they are typically most concerned with current or imminent changes. Since many impacts may be hard to predict with any accuracy, there is also a need to develop (and test through modeling) adaptation strategies that are robust to uncertainty about what the specific impacts will be and when they will happen. Research focused on understanding the value of advance information (e.g., more accurate and earlier predictions of biological and ecological impacts on fisheries)

Suggested Citation:"6 A National Ocean Acidification Program." National Research Council. 2010. Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12904.
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in improving adaptation can help determine the research expenditures that are justified in providing these predictions. There may be substantial similarity or synergy between the types of impacts on fisheries and fishing communities resulting from climate change and those due to ocean acidification. Ideally, research on vulnerability and adaptation strategies will take this into account and attempt to identify adaptation strategies that address changes on a variety of time scales and minimize conflicts between short-term and long-term objectives.

6.3 ASSESSMENT AND DECISION SUPPORT

The FOARAM Act of 2009 charges the IWG with overseeing the development of impacts assessments and adaptation and mitigation strategies, and with facilitating communication and outreach with stakeholders (P.L. 111-11). In the previous chapters, the committee identified some economic sectors and geographical regions that may be impacted by ocean acidification. The committee also identified some potential stakeholder groups, including the fishing and aquaculture industries and coral reef managers (and communities and industries that rely on services provided by reefs). However, this is not an exhaustive list; as understanding of the effects of ocean acidification improves, so will identification of stakeholder groups. Given the range of potential ecological and socioeconomic impacts outlined in the previous chapters, the need for decision support is clear.

Moving from science to decision support is often a major challenge. Indeed, it has been noted that, for climate change, “discovery science and understanding of the climate system are proceeding well, but use of that knowledge to support decision making and to manage risks and opportunities of climate change is proceeding slowly” (National Research Council, 2007b). Because ocean acidification is a relatively new concern and research results are just emerging, it will be even more challenging to move from science to decision support. Nonetheless, ocean acidification is occurring now and will continue for some time, regardless of changes in carbon dioxide emissions. Resource managers will need the ability to assess and predict these impacts on ecosystems and society, develop management plans and practices that support ecosystem resilience, identify and remove barriers to effective management response, and promote flexible decision making that adapts to challenging time scales and to altered ecosystem states (West et al., 2009).

The National Research Council (2009a) describes a comprehensive framework for decision support, including six principles for effectiveness:

1. Begin with users’ needs, identified through two-way communication between knowledge producers and decision makers

Suggested Citation:"6 A National Ocean Acidification Program." National Research Council. 2010. Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12904.
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2. Give priority to process (e.g., two-way communication with users) over products (e.g., data, maps, projections, tools, models) to ensure that useful products are created

3. Link information producers and users

4. Build connections across disciplines and organizations

5. Seek institutional stability for longevity and effectiveness

6. Design for learning from experience, flexibility, and adaptability.

(National Research Council, 2009a)

Given the limited current knowledge about impacts of ocean acidification, the first step for the National Ocean Acidification Program will be to clearly define the problem and the stakeholders (i.e., for whom is this a problem and at what time scales?), and build a process for decision support. For climate change decision support, there have been pilot programs within some federal agencies (e.g., National Integrated Drought Information System, the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Center for Environmental Assessment, NOAA Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments [RISA] and Sectoral Applications Research Program [SARP]) and there is growing interest within the federal government for developing a national climate service to further develop climate-related decision support (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2009b). Potentially useful tools and approaches for ecosystems and fisheries are also being developed in the context of marine ecosystem-based management and marine spatial planning (e.g., McLeod and Leslie, 2009; Douvere, 2008). The National Ocean Acidification Program could leverage the expertise of these existing and developing programs. Ocean acidification decision support could even become an integrated component of other climate service or marine ecosystem-based management programs. In addition, several recent reports have been produced on effective assessments and decision support for climate change that are equally applicable to ocean acidification (e.g., National Research Council 2005a, 2007a, b, c, 2008, 2009a, b; Adger et al., 2009); in particular, the committee notes two recent NRC reports—Analysis of Global Change Assessments: Lessons Learned (National Research Council, 2007a) and Informing Decisions in a Changing Climate (National Research Council, 2009a)—which build on previous reports and provide a strong foundation for developing an assessment and decision support strategy for ocean acidification. In particular, the FOARAM Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-11) repeatedly calls for various assessments of ocean acidification impacts. A similar mandate was given for periodic climate change assessments in the Global Change Research Act (GCRA) of 1990 (P.L. 101-606). To improve its assessment process, the U.S. Climate Change Science Program asked the NRC to look at lessons learned from past global change assessments (National Research Council,

Suggested Citation:"6 A National Ocean Acidification Program." National Research Council. 2010. Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12904.
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2007a). The 11 essential elements of effective assessments determined in the NRC (2007a) report could serve as useful guidance for the development of an ocean acidification assessment strategy.

RECOMMENDATION: The National Ocean Acidification Program should focus on identifying, engaging, and responding to stakeholders in its assessment and decision support process and work with existing climate service and marine ecosystem management programs to develop a broad strategy for decision support.

6.4 DATA MANAGEMENT

Data quality and access will both be integral components of a successful program. As previously discussed, appropriate experimental design and measurements are required for high-quality data. Data reporting and archiving is important to ensure that data and associated metadata (i.e., the information about where, when, and how samples were collected and analyzed, and by whom) are accessible to researchers now and in the future. In many cases, metadata are often as important as the actual data; detailed metadata is particularly essential for manipulative experiments. Similar large-scale research programs such as U.S. JGOFS, U.S. Global Ocean Ecosystems Dynamics (GLOBEC), the LTER network, and USGCRP have developed data policies that address data quality, access, and archiving to enhance the value of data collected within these programs. The Guide to Best Practices in Ocean Acidification Research and Data Reporting provides guidance on data reporting and usage (Riebesell et al., 2010).

The data management component of a National Ocean Acidification Program could build on lessons learned from previous ocean research programs (e.g., Glover et al., 2006). Elements of a successful program include:

• devoting sufficient resources, about 5–10% of the total cost of the program—investments include both hardware and competent staff;

• a management office established early in the program to shepherd data management even before field programs begin;

• the development of conventions for standard methods, names, and units, as well as an agreed-to list of metadata to be collected along with the data, before field programs begin;

• an agreement among investigators to share their data with each other, leading to more rapid scientific discovery (in some cases, this requires changes in the scientific culture and incentives for investigators);

• ongoing two-way interactions between the data managers and

Suggested Citation:"6 A National Ocean Acidification Program." National Research Council. 2010. Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12904.
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the principal investigators to make the database a living database and improve the final data quality; and

• linkages between data management and data synthesis.

Data rescue efforts that compile, analyze and make publicly available existing historical data that are not currently available in electronic form would be beneficial to the field. There are many existing data management offices and databases that could support ocean acidification observational and research data, including:

• The Biological and Chemical Oceanography Data Management Office (BCO-DMO; http://www.bco-dmo.org/) is funded by the NSF Division of Ocean Sciences and manages new data from biological and chemical oceanographic investigations, as well as legacy data from U.S. JGOFS and GLOBEC.

• Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC; http://cdiac.ornl.gov/) is supported by the Department of Energy and provides data management support for a range of climate change projects including FACE and the Ocean CO2 Data Project.

• The CLIVAR and Carbon Hydrographic Data Office (CCHDO; http://cchdo.ucsd.edu/index.html) is supported by NSF and serves as a repository for CTD and hydrographic data from WOCE, CLIVAR, and other oceanographic research programs.

• The World Data Center for Marine Environmental Sciences (WDC-MARE; http://www.wdc-mare.org/) is maintained by the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) and the Center for Marine Environmental Sciences at the University of Bremen. It is a collection of data from international (primarily European) oceanographic projects including EPOCA and BIOACID.

RECOMMENDATION: The National Ocean Acidification Program should create a data management office and provide it with adequate resources. Guided by experiences from previous and current large-scale research programs and the research community, the office should develop policies to ensure data and metadata quality, access, and archiving. The Program should identify appropriate data center(s) for archiving of ocean acidification data or, if existing data centers are inadequate, the Program should create its own.

The FOARAM Act calls for an “Ocean Acidification Information Exchange to make information on ocean acidification developed through or utilized by the interagency ocean acidification program accessible through electronic means, including information which would be use-

Suggested Citation:"6 A National Ocean Acidification Program." National Research Council. 2010. Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12904.
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ful to policymakers, researchers, and other stakeholders in mitigating or adapting to the impacts of ocean acidification” (P.L. 111-11). The committee agrees that information exchange is an important priority for the program. The Information Exchange proposed by the Act would go beyond chemical and biological measurements and also include syntheses and assessments that would be accessible to and understandable by managers, policy makers, and the general public (see section 6.3). It could also act as a conduit for two-way dialogue between stakeholders and scientists to ensure that decision support products are meeting needs of the stakeholders. A “one-stop shop” of ocean acidification information would be an extremely powerful tool, but would require resources and expertise, particularly in science communication, to perform effectively.

The committee was asked to consider the appropriate balance among research, observations, modeling, and communication. While the appropriate balance of research, observing, and modeling activities will best be determined by the IWG and individual agencies relative to their missions, the committee would like to stress the importance of communication. To successfully engage stakeholders in a two-way dialogue, the National Ocean Acidification Program will require a mechanism for effectively communicating results of the research and receiving feedback and input from managers and others seeking decision support. Inadequate progress in communicating results and engaging stakeholders, largely due to the lack of a communication strategy, has been a criticism of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (National Research Council, 2007b). It will be important that the Ocean Acidification Information Exchange avoid a similar outcome. Both the EPOCA and OCB Program have web-based approaches for communicating science information on ocean acidification to the general public, and the National Program is encouraged to build on and learn from existing efforts in its development of an Ocean Acidification Information Exchange.

RECOMMENDATION: In addition to management of research and observational data, the National Ocean Acidification Program, in establishing an Ocean Acidification Information Exchange, should provide timely research results, syntheses, and assessments that are of value to managers, policy makers, and the general public. The Program should develop a strategy and provide adequate resources for communication efforts.

6.5 FACILITIES AND HUMAN RESOURCES

Additional facilities and trained researchers will be needed to achieve the research priorities and high quality observations described in previ-

Suggested Citation:"6 A National Ocean Acidification Program." National Research Council. 2010. Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12904.
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ous sections. In some instances, ocean acidification research is likely to require large community resources and facilities, including central facilities for high-quality carbonate chemistry measurements, free-ocean CO2 experiment (FOCE)-type experimental sites, mesocosms, wet labs with well-controlled carbonate chemistry systems, facilities at natural analogue sites, and intercomparison studies to enable integration of data from different investigators. Currently, some common facilities exist but are fairly limited. Internationally, several large-scale facilities exist or are being developed, including a mesocosm facility at the Korean Ocean Research and Development Institute in Jangmok (Kim et al., 2008) and a European Union network of aquatic mesocosm facilities (http://mesoaqua.eu/): six in-shore mesocosm facilities and a mobile off-shore mesocosm system. Ocean acidification-related facilities are also being developed within the United States: Friday Harbor Laboratories of the University of Washington (James Murray, University of Washington, personal communication) is developing analytical facilities, wet-labs, and near-shore coastal mesocosms; a FOCE prototype is in development at MBARI (http://www.mbari.org/highCO2/foce/home.htm); and “natural laboratories” have been suggested at deep and shallow CO2 vents near the Northern Marianas Islands and other hydrothermal vents (Pala, 2009). These larger facilities may be required to scale up to ecosystem-level experiments; however, it is important to note that there are trade-offs in the various types of facilities—for example, open-ocean mesocosms are a significant scale up from coastal mesocosms but are also more costly—and that a mix of facilities will be necessary to achieve the appropriate cost-effective balance of experiments.

Ocean acidification is a highly interdisciplinary growing field, which will attract graduate students, postdoctoral investigators, and principal investigators from various fields. Training opportunities to help scientists make the transition to this new field may accelerate the progress in ocean acidification research. It may also be necessary to engage researchers in fields related to management and decision support. Preliminary capacity building efforts for ocean acidification are being developed by the OCB and EPOCA programs (e.g., http://www.whoi.edu/courses/OCB-OA/).

RECOMMENDATION: As the National Ocean Acidification Program develops a research plan, the facilities and human resource needs should also be assessed. Existing community facilities available to support high-quality field- and laboratory-based carbonate chemistry measurements, well-controlled carbonate chemistry manipulations, and large-scale ecosystem manipulations and comparisons should be inventoried and gaps assessed based on research needs. An assessment should also be made of community data resources such as genome sequences for

Suggested Citation:"6 A National Ocean Acidification Program." National Research Council. 2010. Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12904.
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organisms vulnerable to ocean acidification. Where facilities or data resources are lacking, the Program should support their development, which in some cases also may require additional investments in technology development. The Program should also support the development of human resources through workshops, short-courses, or other training opportunities.

6.6 PROGRAM PLANNING, STRUCTURE, AND MANAGEMENT

The committee presents ambitious priorities and goals for the National Ocean Acidification Program, which are also echoed in the FOARAM Act and many other reports. To achieve these goals, the Program will have to lay out clear strategic and implementation plans. While the ultimate details of such plans are outside the scope of this study, there are some elements that the committee believes are necessary for a successful program. In considering recommendations on program implementation, the committee took lessons learned from large-scale research projects such as the NSF LTER Network, the USGCRP, and in particular, major oceanographic programs in its analysis and recommendations for the successful implementation of a National Ocean Acidification Program. It is important to stress, however, that a National Ocean Acidification Program—which must also link the science to decision making—will have challenges beyond these largely research-oriented programs.

The challenges to improve understanding of large-scale oceanographic phenomena with global implications has led to the rise of major U.S. oceanographic programs such as Climate VARiability and Predictability (CLIVAR), Global Ocean Ecosystems Dynamics (GLOBEC), Joint Global Ocean Flux Study (JGOFS; see Box 6.2 for case study), Ocean Drilling Program (ODP), Tropical Ocean Global Atmosphere (TOGA), and World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE) programs (National Research Council, 1999). These major oceanographic programs have been recognized for their important impact on the ocean sciences, achieving an understanding of large-scale phenomena not likely without such a concentrated effort; they also produced a legacy of high-quality data, new facilities and technologies, and a new generation of trained scientists (National Research Council, 1999). In 1999, the NRC reviewed the major oceanographic programs and devised a list of guidelines and recommendations for the creation and management of large-scale oceanographic programs (see Box 6.3).

The FOARAM Act calls for the IWG to develop a detailed, 10-year strategic plan for the National Ocean Acidification Program. The committee first addresses the issue of program length. The committee agrees that a clearly defined end is appropriate because it allows for the develop-

Suggested Citation:"6 A National Ocean Acidification Program." National Research Council. 2010. Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12904.
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BOX 6.2
The Joint Global Ocean Flux Study: A Model for Success

The U.S. Joint Global Ocean Flux Study (JGOFS) was a multi-agency and multi-disciplinary research and monitoring program, linked to an international program, which coordinated an ambitious agenda to study the ocean carbon cycle. The U.S. JGOFS program, a component of the U.S Global Change Research Program, was launched in the late 1980s and ran until 2005. The international program, which began a few years after the U.S. program, had over 30 participating nations; it began under the auspices of the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR) and eventually became a core program of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP). The main goal of the JGOFS program was to understand the controls on the concentrations and fluxes of carbon and associated nutrients in the ocean. Some of the accomplishments include improved understanding of the roles of physical and biological controls on carbon cycling, improved understanding of the role of the North Atlantic in the global carbon cycle, and improved modeling of oceanic carbon dioxide uptake (National Research Council, 1999). As a result of the program, ocean biogeochemistry emerged as a new field, with emphasis on quality measurements of carbon system parameters and interdisciplinary field studies of the biological, chemical, and physical processes which control the ocean carbon cycle. U.S. JGOFS was supported primarily by the U.S. National Science Foundation in collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Department of Energy, and the Office of Naval Research.

FROM: http://www1.whoi.edu/

ment of milestones and assessment to ensure that goals are met (National Research Council, 1999). A 10-year time frame may be adequate time to achieve many of the goals set out, but based on the experience of other major research programs, the program in its entirety may need to span a longer period (possibly 15-20 years) to incorporate an adequate synthesis phase following the field and laboratory components (e.g., Doney and Ducklow, 2006). The ultimate length of the plan will have to reflect the minimum time needed to adequately address the questions posed, and will require community input. Further, a National Ocean Acidification Program will have many elements (e.g., operational elements such as decision support) that will naturally continue beyond the initial decade; it will be critical to establish a legacy program for extended ocean acidification observations, research, and management at the outset.

In applying the guidelines from the NRC review of major oceanographic programs (National Research Council, 1999) to the design of a National Ocean Acidification Program, the committee identified some

Suggested Citation:"6 A National Ocean Acidification Program." National Research Council. 2010. Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12904.
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BOX 6.3
Lessons Learned from Major Oceanographic Programs

The following paraphrases the recommendations made in Global Ocean Science: Toward an Integrated Approach (National Research Council, 1999) that address management of major programs. These recommendations are directly relevant to the development of a National Ocean Acidification Program.

• The federal sponsors … should encourage and support a broad spectrum of interdisciplinary research activities, varying in size from a collaboration of a few scientists, to intermediate-size programs, to programs perhaps even larger in scope than the present major oceanographic programs.

• Major allocation decisions (for example, extramural and internal funding of agency research) should be based on wide input from the community and the basis for decisions should be set forth clearly to the scientific community.

• … Sponsors and organizers of any new oceanographic program should maintain the flexibility to consider a wide range of program structures before choosing one that best addresses the scientific challenge.

• During the initial planning and organization of new major oceanographic programs, an effort should be made to ensure agreement between the program’s scientific objectives and the motivating hypotheses given for funding.

• The structure should encourage continuous refinement of the program.

• The overall structure of the program should be dictated by the complexity and nature of the scientific challenges it addresses. Likewise, the nature of the administrative body should reflect the size, complexity, and duration of the program.

• All programs should have well defined milestones, including a clearly defined end. An iterative assessment and evaluation of scientific objectives and funding should be undertaken in a partnership of major ocean program leadership and agency management.

• Modelers, [experimentalists,] and observationalists need to work together during all stages of program design and implementation.

• A number of different mechanisms should be implemented to facilitate communication among the ongoing major ocean programs [and other ocean acidification programs], including (but not limited to) joint annual meetings of SSC chairs and community town meetings.

• When the scale and complexity of the program warrants, an interagency project office should be established. Other mechanisms, such as memoranda of understanding (MOU), should also be used to ensure multi-agency support throughout the program’s lifetime.

• … The program and sponsoring agencies should establish (with input from the community) priorities for moving long-time series and other observations initiated by the program into operational mode. Factors to be considered include data quality, length [i.e., duration of program], number of variables, space and time resolution, accessibility for the wider community, and relevance to established goals.

• … Federal sponsors and the academic community must collaborate to preserve and ensure timely access to the data sets developed as part of each program’s activities.

FROM: National Research Council, 1999.

Suggested Citation:"6 A National Ocean Acidification Program." National Research Council. 2010. Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12904.
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priorities for program planning, structure, and management that will help to bring about a successful program. While the strategic plan being developed by the IWG may not contain all of the details necessary, the committee believes it is critical that an implementation plan define, at a minimum:

(1)  Goals and objectives: Clear research, observational, and operational priorities and objectives are essential to develop a National Ocean Acidification Program. Without them, meaningful program assessment is not conceivable.

(2) Metrics for evaluation: Without well-defined metrics tied to both goals and objectives, meaningful or effective program operation is not possible. One cannot manage without measurement. Program operation includes and requires process, outcome, and impact evaluations—all of which depend upon well-defined measurement (National Research Council, 2005b).

(3) Mechanisms for coordination, integration, and evaluation: Given the proposed Program’s complexity, particular care and attention will be required to assure needed coordination between, integration of, and communication among the numerous, diverse program elements and entities. Mechanisms will also need to be put in place to facilitate two-way communication among research community, decision makers, and stakeholders.

(4) Means to transition research and observation to operations: The plan will need to anticipate and account for the transition of some research and observational program elements to operational status. The transition plans will ensure the continuity of long-term observations and research products and facilitate the establishment, where called for, of legacy elements that continue beyond the termination of the Program.

(5) Agency roles and institutional responsibilities: Roles and responsibilities of every federal agency participating in the Program must be carefully specified and clearly conveyed to all of those involved (Ocean Carbon and Biogeochemistry Program, 2009a). The Program could take advantage of existing and new mechanisms for interagency funding of targeted research and observational elements.

(6) Coordination with existing and developing national and international programs: Ocean acidification is being recognized and taken seriously in numerous countries and diverse organizations in the United States and around the world. Given the global scope of ocean acidification, special efforts are required to take advantage of and leverage joint research and observational opportunities. Coordination is also needed to avoid possible duplications of effort. In particular, there are several different types of natural linkages with:

a. ongoing large-scale ocean and climate projects in the United States such as CLIVAR and OCB, the USGCRP, OOI, and IOOS;

Suggested Citation:"6 A National Ocean Acidification Program." National Research Council. 2010. Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12904.
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b. JSOST-led efforts on the three existing near-term priorities of the Ocean Research Priorities Plan: Response of Coastal Ecosystems to Persistent Forcing and Extreme Events, Comparative Analysis of Marine Ecosystem Organization, and Sensors for Marine Ecosystems;

c. other national and multi-national carbon cycle, climate change, and ocean acidification programs (e.g., EPOCA, BIOACID, UK Ocean Acidification Research Programme, IMBER, SOLAS) and in particular the recently formed SOLAS-IMBER ocean acidification working group;

d. international scientific bodies such as the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), the International Council for Science Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR), the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP), the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), and the North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES) that have had demonstrated success in planning and coordinating international oceanographic research programs.

(7) Resource requirements: Based on the Program’s stated goals and objectives, realistic resources must be identified and allocated to ensure success. Scrupulous attention to specific program elements, including those devoted to program management, data management, training, outreach and decision support, will be necessary. Given the dynamic and complex character of the ocean acidification problem, the commitment of significant resources for exploratory, innovative, and high-risk research will also be necessary.

(8) Community input and external review: Progress toward achievement of the Program’s goals and objectives can only be measured and weighed based on periodic, transparent, and effective assessments and reviews. Peer reviews for proposals and performance are critical to keep the Program on course toward its targeted goals and objectives.

RECOMMENDATION: The National Ocean Acidification Program should create a detailed implementation plan with community input. The plan should address (1) goals and objectives; (2) metrics for evaluation; (3) mechanisms for coordination, integration, and evaluation; (4) means to transition research and observational elements to operational status; (5) agency roles and responsibilities; (6) coordination with existing and developing national and international programs; (7) resource requirements; and (8) community input and external review.

If fully executed, the elements outlined in the FOARAM Act and recommended in this report—monitoring, interdisciplinary research,

Suggested Citation:"6 A National Ocean Acidification Program." National Research Council. 2010. Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12904.
×

assessment and decision support, data management, facilities, training, reporting, and outreach and communication—would create a large-scale and highly complex program that will require sufficient support. These program goals are certainly on the order of, if not more ambitious than, major oceanographic programs and will require a high level of coordination that warrants a program office. This program office would not only coordinate the activities of the program, but would also serve as a central point for communicating and collaborating with outside groups such as Congress and international ocean acidification programs. Ocean acidification is a global problem that presents challenges for research, but it also presents opportunities to share resources and expertise that may be beyond the capacity of a single nation. Therefore, international collaboration is critical to the success of the Program. It will be important to coordinate with the various other national and multi-national ocean acidification programs, as well as other international ocean carbon cycle, climate change, and marine ecosystem research programs to leverage existing resources and avoid duplication of efforts.

There are many models for such an office. The IWG called for in the FOARAM Act can be an effective approach for linking research efforts across the federal government because it resides within the JSOST, which provides for the coordination of science and technology across ocean agencies; however, a mechanism for outside input from academic scientists would be required since IWG membership is limited to federal agencies. An outside scientific steering committee consisting of representatives from the community, usually principal investigators, has been used in many major oceanographic programs (e.g., U.S. JGOFS), but this group would need to represent all stakeholders and there would still need to be a mechanism for interagency coordination of resources. An approach that combines both elements may be the best for a National Ocean Acidification Program; for example, some current interagency working groups such as the Carbon Cycle IWG work closely with an external Scientific Steering Group. Many large-scale programs (e.g., U.S. CLIVAR, U.S. GCRP) also include dedicated administrative staff that can coordinate logistics, reporting requirements, integration between program elements, communication, and other program elements. A program office is likely warranted for the National Ocean Acidification Program given the large number of stakeholders, reporting requirements, and broad research portfolio that covers both basic and applied research. Adequate resources will need to be supplied to staff a program office to support the activities of the IWG, whose participants are typically drawn from program managers and federal scientists. Where possible, efficiencies in the program office could minimize overall costs and maximize funds available to support research while completing all required tasks.

Suggested Citation:"6 A National Ocean Acidification Program." National Research Council. 2010. Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12904.
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RECOMMENDATION: The National Ocean Acidification Program should create a program office with the resources to ensure successful coordination and integration of all of the elements outlined in the FOARAM Act and this report.

COMPILATION OF CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

CONCLUSION: The chemistry of the ocean is changing at an unprecedented rate and magnitude due to anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions; the rate of change exceeds any known to have occurred for at least the past hundreds of thousands of years. Unless anthropogenic CO2 emissions are substantially curbed, or atmospheric CO2 is controlled by some other means, the average pH of the ocean will continue to fall. Ocean acidification has demonstrated impacts on many marine organisms. While the ultimate consequences are still unknown, there is a risk of ecosystem changes that threaten coral reefs, fisheries, protected species, and other natural resources of value to society.

CONCLUSION: Given that ocean acidification is an emerging field of research, the committee finds that the federal government has taken initial steps to respond to the nation’s long-term needs and that the national ocean acidification program currently in development is a positive move toward coordinating these efforts.

CONCLUSION: The development of a National Ocean Acidification Program will be a complex undertaking, but legislation has laid the foundation, and a path forward has been articulated in numerous reports that provide a strong basis for identifying future needs and priorities for understanding and responding to ocean acidification.

CONCLUSION: The chemical parameters that should be measured as part of an ocean acidification observational network and the methods to make those measurements are well established.

RECOMMENDATION: The National Program should support a chemical monitoring program that includes measurements of temperature, salinity, oxygen, nutrients critical to primary production, and at least two of the following four carbon parameters: dissolved inorganic carbon, pCO2, total alkalinity, and pH. To account for variability in these values with depth, measurements should be made not just in the surface layer, but with consideration for different depth zones of interest, such as the deep sea, the oxygen minimum zone, or in coastal areas that experience periodic or seasonal hypoxia.

Suggested Citation:"6 A National Ocean Acidification Program." National Research Council. 2010. Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12904.
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CONCLUSION: Standardized, appropriate parameters for monitoring the biological effects of ocean acidification cannot be determined until more is known concerning the physiological responses and population consequences of ocean acidification across a wide range of taxa.

RECOMMENDATION: To incorporate findings from future research, the National Program should support an adaptive monitoring program to identify biological response variables specific to ocean acidification. In the meantime, measurements of general indicators of ecosystem change, such as primary productivity, should be supported as part of a program for assessing the effects of acidification. These measurements will also have value in assessing the effects of other long-term environmental stressors.

RECOMMENDATION: To ensure long-term continuity of data sets across investigators, locations, and time, the National Ocean Acidification Program should support inter-calibration, standards development, and efforts to make methods of acquiring chemical and biological data clear and consistent. The Program should support the development of satellite, ship-based, and autonomous sensors, as well as other methods and technologies, as part of a network for observing ocean acidification and its impacts. As the field advances and a consensus emerges, the Program should support the identification and standardization of biological parameters for monitoring ocean acidification and its effects.

CONCLUSION: The existing observing networks are inadequate for the task of monitoring ocean acidification and its effects. However, these networks can be used as the backbone of a broader monitoring network.

RECOMMENDATION: The National Ocean Acidification Program should review existing and emergent observing networks to identify existing measurements, chemical and biological, that could become part of a comprehensive ocean acidification observing network and to identify any critical spatial or temporal gaps in the current capacity to monitor ocean acidification. The Program should work to fill these gaps by:

ensuring that existing coastal and oceanic carbon observing sites adequately measure the seawater carbonate system and a range of biological parameters;

identifying and leveraging other long-term ocean monitoring programs by adding relevant chemical and biological measurements at existing and new sites;

Suggested Citation:"6 A National Ocean Acidification Program." National Research Council. 2010. Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12904.
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adding additional time-series sites, repeat transects, and in situ sensors in key areas that are currently undersampled. These should be prioritized based on ecological and societal vulnerabilities.

deploying and field testing new remote sensing and in situ technologies for observing ocean acidification and its impacts; and

supporting the development and application of new data analysis and modeling techniques for integrating satellite, ship-based, and in situ observations.

RECOMMENDATION: The National Ocean Acidification Program should plan for the long-term sustainability of an integrated ocean acidification observation network.

CONCLUSION: Present knowledge is insufficient to guide federal and state agencies in evaluating potential impacts for management purposes.

RECOMMENDATION: Federal and federally funded research on ocean acidification should focus on the following eight unranked priorities:

understand processes affecting acidification in coastal waters;

understand the physiological mechanisms of biological responses;

assess the potential for acclimation and adaptation;

investigate the response of individuals, populations, and communities;

understand ecosystem-level consequences;

investigate the interactive effects of multiple stressors;

understand the implications for biogeochemical cycles; and

understand the socioeconomic impacts and inform decisions.

RECOMMENDATION: The National Ocean Acidification Program should focus on identifying, engaging, and responding to stakeholders in its assessment and decision support process and work with existing climate service and marine ecosystem management programs to develop a broad strategy for decision support.

RECOMMENDATION: The National Ocean Acidification Program should create a data management office and provide it with adequate resources. Guided by experiences from previous and current large-scale research programs and the research community, the office should develop policies to ensure data and metadata quality, access, and archiving. The Program should identify appropriate data center(s) for

Suggested Citation:"6 A National Ocean Acidification Program." National Research Council. 2010. Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12904.
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archiving of ocean acidification data or, if existing data centers are inadequate, the Program should create its own.

RECOMMENDATION: In addition to management of research and observational data, the National Ocean Acidification Program, in establishing an Ocean Acidification Information Exchange, should provide timely research results, syntheses, and assessments that are of value to managers, policy makers, and the general public. The Program should develop a strategy and provide adequate resources for communication efforts.

RECOMMENDATION: As the National Ocean Acidification Program develops a research plan, the facilities and human resource needs should also be assessed. Existing community facilities available to support high-quality field- and laboratory-based carbonate chemistry measurements, well-controlled carbonate chemistry manipulations, and large-scale ecosystem manipulations and comparisons should be inventoried and gaps assessed based on research needs. An assessment should also be made of community data resources such as genome sequences for organisms vulnerable to ocean acidification. Where facilities or data resources are lacking, the Program should support their development, which in some cases also may require additional investments in technology development. The Program should also support the development of human resources through workshops, short-courses, or other training opportunities.

RECOMMENDATION: The National Ocean Acidification Program should create a detailed implementation plan with community input. The plan should address (1) goals and objectives; (2) metrics for evaluation; (3) mechanisms for coordination, integration, and evaluation; (4) means to transition research and observational elements to operational status; (5) agency roles and responsibilities; (6) coordination with existing and developing national and international programs; (7) resource requirements; and (8) community input and external review.

RECOMMENDATION: The National Ocean Acidification Program should create a program office with the resources to ensure successful coordination and integration of all of the elements outlined in the FOARAM Act and this report.

Suggested Citation:"6 A National Ocean Acidification Program." National Research Council. 2010. Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12904.
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The ocean has absorbed a significant portion of all human-made carbon dioxide emissions. This benefits human society by moderating the rate of climate change, but also causes unprecedented changes to ocean chemistry. Carbon dioxide taken up by the ocean decreases the pH of the water and leads to a suite of chemical changes collectively known as ocean acidification. The long term consequences of ocean acidification are not known, but are expected to result in changes to many ecosystems and the services they provide to society. Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean reviews the current state of knowledge, explores gaps in understanding, and identifies several key findings.

Like climate change, ocean acidification is a growing global problem that will intensify with continued CO2 emissions and has the potential to change marine ecosystems and affect benefits to society. The federal government has taken positive initial steps by developing a national ocean acidification program, but more information is needed to fully understand and address the threat that ocean acidification may pose to marine ecosystems and the services they provide. In addition, a global observation network of chemical and biological sensors is needed to monitor changes in ocean conditions attributable to acidification.

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