National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2011

Towards an integrated global ocean acidification observation network

Iglesias-Rodriguez, M.D., K.R.N. Anthony, J. Bijma, A.G. Dickson, S.C. Doney, V.J. Fabry, R.A. Feely, J.-P. Gattuso, K. Lee, U. Riebesell, T. Saino, and C. Turley

doi: 10.5270/OceanObs09.pp.24, In Proceedings of the "OceanObs'09: Sustained Ocean Observations and Information for Society" Conference (Vol. 2), Venice, Italy, 21–25 September 2009, Hall, J., D.E. Harrison, and D. Stammer, Eds., ESA Publication WPP-306 (2010)

The increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), originating largely from human fossil fuel combustion and deforestation since the beginning of the industrial era, is causing a decrease in ocean pH and changes to seawater carbonate chemistry. This process, termed ocean acidification, is now well established from modeling and field data, and the rate of change in ocean pH and carbon chemistry is expected to increase significantly over this century unless future CO2 emissions are restricted dramatically. The rate of CO2 increase is the fastest the Earth has experienced in 65 million years (Ridgwell and Schmidt, 2010), and the current concentration is estimated to be the highest in, at least, the past 50 million years (Zachos et al., 2008). Central to predicting the atmospheric carbon inventory during the 21st century will be understanding and predicting the adjustments in the ocean uptake and exchange of both anthropogenic and natural CO2. To quantify these changes on a global scale, an international interdisciplinary program of ship-based hydrography, time-series moorings, floats and gliders with carbon, pH and oxygen sensors, and ecological surveys is already underway. This program together with implementations of molecular technology will help scientists determine the extent of the large-scale changes in the carbon chemistry of seawater and the associated biological responses to ocean acidification in both open ocean and coastal environments. Indeed many countries are presently engaged in ocean acidification research and monitoring activities. Some examples include the European Union (EPOCA, EuroSITES, MEECE), German (BIOACID), UK (UK Ocean Acidification Research Programme), US (emerging program supported by NSF, NOAA, NASA, USGS) and Japan (programs supported by MoE and MEXT) ocean acidification research programmes. The proposed activities will require a coordinated international research effort that is closely linked with international carbon research programs, such as the CLIVAR/CO2 Repeat Hydrography (GO-SHIP) Program, the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program, and the IGBP programmes SOLAS and IMBER. The Global Ocean Acidification Observation Network will interface strongly with the data synthesis, archiving and management activities of existing international ocean acidification programs.

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