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Ocean Acidification

Responding to Ocean Acidification in Oregon

Coastal areas of Oregon (and the rest of western North America) are particularly vulnerable to ocean acidification and hypoxia, due primarily to seasonal upwelling of acidified deep ocean water onto the continental shelf but also to local inputs of freshwater from rivers, especially those with high levels of dissolved nutrients or organic material.

Fortunately, Oregon-based scientists are at the forefront of ocean acidification and hypoxia research and are working with Oregon agencies to understand and respond to the threats these processes pose. Building on pioneering work that identified ocean acidification as the cause of massive Pacific oyster larvae die-offs at the Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery, Oregon State University (OSU) scientists George Waldbusser and Burke Hales continue to produce cutting edge research aimed at better understanding and mitigating these impacts. Jack Barth is working to better understand relationships between coastal and open ocean water dynamics via high resolution observations of ocean chemistry and other water parameters from the inner continental shelf to the adjacent deep ocean. Francis Chan is examining factors that control the development of low oxygen (hypoxic) zones in the sea and the effects that such zones have on marine organisms and the underlying chemical cycles that support ocean food webs.

These four OSU researchers, along with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientist Waldo Wakefield, based at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center served on the West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Science Panel. This group also developed responses to science questions regarding ocean acidification and hypoxia posed by marine resource staff from the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Authored by Jeff Behan, Science Policy Research Analyst, Institute for Natural Resources