National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2013

An integrated coastal ocean acidification observing system (ICOAOS)

Gledhill, D.K., E.B. Jewett, K. Arzayus, J. Bennet, J. Newton, J. Salisbury, and A.J. Sutton

In Proceedings of the IOOS Summit, Interagency Ocean Observation Committee (IOOC), Herndon, Virginia, 13-16 November 2012 (2013)

Atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations have now reached levels greater than and increasing a rates not experienced for 300 million years [Honisch et al., 2012] with oceans absorbing about a quarter of the excess carbon each year [Sabine et al., 2004; Le Quéré et al., 2009]. As CO2 reacts with seawater it fundamentally changes its chemistry through a process termed ocean acidification. Changes not only include declining pH, but also changes in the availability of a range of carbon compounds tightly linked with biological processes (i.e., productivity, respiration, and calcification) having significant ecological consequences for the marine environment. How these changes are expressed within coastal ecosystems represents a key area of uncertainty. Resolving this uncertainty is a core requirement of NOAA’s Ocean Acidification Program (OAP) and demands the implementation of an integrated coastal ocean acidification observing system (ICOAOS) that tracks both changing physio-chemical conditions and the ecological responses to those changes. We propose a close partnership between the NOAA OAP, IOOS Regional Associations, state and local agencies, tribal nations, and academic researchers to ensure we meet this formidable challenge.

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