HEPR: Ocean Acidification
THE NORTH PACIFIC OCEAN is a sentinel region for signs of ocean acidification. Approximately 30%-50% of global anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are absorbed by the world’s oceans. Dissolving CO2 increases the hydrogen ion (H+) concentration in the ocean, and thus reduces ocean pH. Corrosive waters reach shallower depths more so there than in other ocean basins, especially in Alaska, and so biological impacts will likely occur earlier than in many other places. Ocean acidification reduces the calcium carbonate (CaCO3) saturation point, which may stress calcifying organisms by making calcification more difficult.
The Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC) research focuses on commercially important fish and shellfish species and coldwater corals . Ocean acidification will likely impact the ability of marine calcifiers, such as corals and shellfish, to make shells and skeletons from CaCO3. Species-specific studies of shellfish and fish are conducted to understand physiological effects (growth and survival). The CaCO3 content of calcareous organisms is not well known and a survey of corals is being conducted to assess species vulnerabilities to ocean acidification. Bioeconomic models of Alaskan crab fisheries are being used to forecast fishery performance for a range of climate and ocean acidification scenarios.
The AFSC conducts studies on king and tanner crabs, coldwater corals, pollock, cod and northern rock sole. These experiments are conducted in Kodiak, Alaska, and Newport, Oregon, where species-specific culture facilities and experience are available.
| Research Area
|King and Tanner crabs
|Crab abundance forecasts
|Cod, pollock and northern rock sole
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