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Tillamook, OR, United States

News Article | April 5, 2016
Site: http://www.techtimes.com/rss/sections/environment.xml

Global carbon dioxide emissions are causing massive changes to ocean chemistry along the U.S. West Coast, prompting scientists to call for rapid, decisive actions and coordinated efforts from the governments of Oregon, California, the state of Washington and British Columbia in Canada to mitigate the effects. A 20-member panel of leading ocean scientists made this conclusion and presented their report on April 4, highlighting the troubling increase in ocean acidification and hypoxia, which is marked by extremely low levels of oxygen. Oregon State University (OSU) marine ecologist Francis Chan, co-chair of the West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Science Panel, believes that ocean acidification is an international problem that can be solved locally. “There has been an attitude that there is not much we can do about this locally, but that just isn’t true. A lot of the solutions will come locally and through coordinated regional efforts,” he says. The report identified global carbon emissions as the leading cause of ocean acidification, leading the panel to encourage West Coast leaders to develop a regional carbon management strategy to reduce the CO2 levels absorbed by the ocean. But what is happening here exactly? As humans pump more CO2 into the atmosphere, ocean waters absorb the gas, resulting in their acidification. Hypoxia, on the other hand, results from burning fossil fuels, along with agricultural runoff and waste water treatment effluent. The West Coast is particularly vulnerable to rising seawater acidity levels because of the operation of ocean currents. Coastal upswelling brings nutrient-filled, low-oxygen, high-CO2 water from deep in the water column to the surface near coasts. The nutrients fortify the water column, triggering phytoplankton blooms that die and sink to the bottom to produce more CO2 and lower oxygen levels further. Some of the initial impacts were already felt 15 years ago in Oregon when it experienced season hypoxia, leading to a number of marine animal die-offs. The oyster industry, too, was fraught by high death rates among juvenile oysters due to increasingly acidified water. There is plenty at stake for these West Coast communities, where fisheries serve as primary economic drivers and quality of seafood is on the line. In Washington state, for instance, shelled organisms are already having a hard time forming their protective outer shells, with the local shellfish sector confronted with high mortality rates in the early-life stage of some shellfish species. The report was commissioned by decision-makers from various states, who convened a panel of scientists and then created a report that warns and maps solutions at the same time. Its recommendations include the development of new criteria for near-shore water quality, the improvement of CO2 removal methods by using kelp beds and other plants as well as adaptability enhancement through promoting marine reserves and other resource management methods. Among the proposed solutions is putting up “listening posts” around the West Coast – such as the Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery in Oregon that solved juvenile oyster die-offs – that demand a multi-stakeholder response. “It is a unifying issue that will require participation from state and federal agencies, as well as universities, ports, local governments and NGOs,” says OSU professor and panel member Jack Barth. With the acidity of West Coast waters expected to continue to accelerate with rising CO2 levels, scientists and state officials are leaving no stone unturned. Members of the Washington Marine Resources Advisory Council plan to approach the state legislature next year for increased research, monitoring and outreach funding. The state’s ocean acidification center, too, has forged partnerships to conduct experimental studies on Dungeness crab, salmon and sablefish. There is no one silver bullet for solving the problem, as different coastlines and habitats respond differently to treatments. Chan, though, remains highly optimistic, fueled by “the receptivity of the decision-makers at the state level.”


Barton A.,Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery | Waldbusser G.G.,Oregon State University | Feely R.A.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Weisberg S.B.,Southern California Coastal Water Research Project Authority | And 8 more authors.
Oceanography | Year: 2015

In 2007, the US west coast shellfish industry began to feel the effects of unprecedented levels of larval mortality in commercial hatcheries producing the Pacific oyster Crassostrea gigas. Subsequently, researchers at Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery, working with academic and government scientists, showed a high correlation between aragonite saturation state (Ωarag) of inflowing seawater and survival of larval groups, clearly linking increased CO2 to hatchery failures. This work led the Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association (PCSGA) to instrument shellfish hatcheries and coastal waters, establishing a monitoring network in collaboration with university researchers and the US Integrated Ocean Observing System. Analytical developments, such as the ability to monitor Ωarag in real time, have greatly improved the industry’s understanding of carbonate chemistry and its variability and informed the development of commercial-scale water treatment systems. These treatment systems have generally proven effective, resulting in billions of additional oyster larvae supplied to Pacific Northwest oyster growers. However, significant challenges remain, and a multifaceted approach, including selective breeding of oyster stocks, expansion of hatchery capacity, continued monitoring of coastal water chemistry, and improved understanding of biological responses will all be essential to the survival of the US west coast shellfish industry. Source


McLaughlin K.,Southern California Coastal Water Research Project Authority | Weisberg S.B.,Southern California Coastal Water Research Project Authority | Dickson A.G.,University of California at San Diego | Hofmann G.E.,University of California at Santa Barbara | And 9 more authors.
Oceanography | Year: 2015

Numerous monitoring efforts are underway to improve understanding of ocean acidification and its impacts on coastal environments, but there is a need to develop a coordinated approach that facilitates spatial and temporal comparisons of drivers and responses on a regional scale. Toward that goal, the California Current Acidification Network (C-CAN) held a series of workshops to develop a set of core principles for facilitating integration of ocean acidification monitoring efforts on the US West Coast. The recommended core principles include: (1) monitoring measurements should facilitate determination of aragonite saturation state (Ωarag) as the common currency of comparison, allowing a complete description of the inorganic carbon system; (2) maximum uncertainty of ±0.2 in the calculation of Ωarag is required to adequately link changes in ocean chemistry to changes in ecosystem function; (3) inclusion of a variety of monitoring platforms and levels of effort in the network will insure collection of high-frequency temporal data at fixed locations as well as spatial mapping across locations; (4) physical and chemical oceanographic monitoring should be linked with biological monitoring; and (5) the monitoring network should share data and make it accessible to a broad audience. © 2015 by The Oceanography Society. All rights reserved. Source


Gouldman C.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Wiegardt M.,Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery | Cudd S.,Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery | Geubtner J.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Marine Technology Society Journal | Year: 2011

This scientific note provides a summary of a new partnership developing between two groups who have found a common area of interest focused on the value of building a better network for real-time coastal ocean observing data and information and how such a network may inform research on ocean acidification. The note examines the development of the partnership over the past year, which is providing mutually beneficial opportunities for interaction. Shellfish growers are able to learn about a federal and regional framework providing integrated data along our coasts, and the Integrated Ocean Observing System program is able to learn directly from one of its stakeholders who demonstrates the clear economic and scientific value of coastal, ocean, and Great Lakes observing systems. By working together, the two are finding ways to improve our coastal observing networks and to support research on ocean acidification. Source

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