Uses of coastal ocean resources--- for example fishing, recreation, trade, mining, energy production, and waste disposal--- interact, respond, and adapt with the ocean’s ecosystems. However climatic changes are creating unexpected changes to coastal ecosystems and economies. Ocean acidification, in combination with warming waters, low-oxygen zones, and shifting ocean currents, has the potential to drastically affect the distribution and ecology of marine resources. Specific policy questions about ocean acidification can be answered with interdisciplinary research approaches.
Under normal climate conditions, fish and invertebrates along the west coast of the United States are accustomed to some variation in seawater acidity and oxygen levels as winds draw acidic and oxygen-poor, deep water to the ocean surface in a process called upwelling. Changes to upwelling winds and the chemistry of deep water offshore have intensified the stress that marine species face from low-oxygen zones and ocean acidification. These changes have the potential to severely disrupt the ecosystem and to cause major economic impacts.
With a strong combination of newly advanced laboratory tools (such as genomics and advanced culturing facilities), oceanographic sensor networks, and large-scale ecological research, scientists are revealing the impacts of ocean acidification on important life stages of marine species and coastal ecosystems.
Since its inception, PISCO has sought to understand how the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem (CCLME) functions and how it is affected by climate and human activities. It is unique in integrating multiple scientific disciplines to derive a comprehensive understanding of a coastal system at the large ecosystem scale. Understanding how climate and ocean chemistry changes will reshape ecosystems, fisheries, and coastal economies are core challenges for PISCO.
OMEGAS (Ocean Margin Ecosystems Group for Acidification Studies) was established in November with a new National Science Foundation award. Core campuses include: