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Ocean Acidification

The Chemistry is Changing in West Coast Oceans

 A rise in worldwide sea levels is one widely anticipated effect of global climate change. But another potentially serious climate related impact – ocean acidification- is rapidly gaining the attention of marine scientists and policy makers.

In summer 2013, Governor Kitzhaber’s office formally aligned Oregon with California efforts to implement the West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Science Panel. The Institute for Natural Resources located at Oregon State University (OSU) worked with the California Ocean Science Trust to convene 20 experts from Oregon, California, and Washington. The panel was charged with synthesizing and interpreting knowledge from the scientifically diverse and rapidly evolving ocean acidification and hypoxia field of research, and identifying research and monitoring priorities critical to the West Coast's future. The Oregon Governor’s Office, Department of Land Conservation and Development, Department of Environmental Quality, Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Department of Agriculture, and the OSU Research Office supported Oregon’s participation.

Products from the panel’s work are targeted for release by mid-2015. Of particular interest to Oregon marine resource managers are responses from the five Oregon-based panelists to ocean acidification and hypoxia science questions submitted by Oregon agencies involved with coastal management issues.

Other panel products include 1) a summary of scientific knowledge on ocean acidification and hypoxia and the role of science in decision making; 2) a document laying out scientific approaches to making a 303(d) assessment for near coastal ocean acidification under the Clean Water Act; 3) a peer-reviewed manuscript on ocean acidification science needs for natural resource managers of the North American west coast; 4) an examination of existing and potential threats posed by ocean acidification and hypoxia to marine organisms and ecosystems, and tools to mitigate these impacts and manage for marine ecosystem resilience; 5) an exploration of large-scale oceanographic factors that drive ocean acidification and hypoxia, and linkages between these open ocean dynamics and near-shore processes along the West Coast; and 6) a summary of existing science on interacting impacts of hypoxia, ocean acidification, and changes in temperature on the organismic physiology of West Coast marine species and projections of how these physiological effects may translate into biogeographic and ecological changes.

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