Stay Connected

NOAA Research News

NOAA and partners release first federal ocean acidification strategic research plan

NOAA and partners release first federal ocean acidification strategic research plan

Interagency Working Group on Ocean Acidification outlines multi-disciplinary research on impacts

Today, NOAA and its partners released the first federal strategic plan to guide research and monitoring investments that will improve our understanding of ocean acidification, its potential impacts on marine species and ecosystems, and adaptation and mitigation strategies.

 “Maintaining healthy marine ecosystems in the face of ocean acidification is one of the top natural resource challenges of this century,” said Robert Detrick, assistant administrator of the NOAA Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research.  “As today’s strategic research plan demonstrates, NOAA and our federal partners are collaborating to meet the challenge of ocean acidification with coordinated and comprehensive research programs.”

The plan was developed by the Interagency Working Group on Ocean Acidification, which brings together scientists from NOAA, the National Science Foundation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Department of Agriculture, Department of State, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and U.S. Navy. Congress called for the Interagency Working Group and charged it with developing a strategic plan to guide research and monitoring of ocean acidification as part of the Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring Act of 2009 (FOARAM Act).  The plan is also a nec­essary early step towards successful implementation of the National Ocean Policy.

Some highlights of the plan’s research goals include:

  • Improve existing observing systems that monitor chemical and biological effects of ocean acidification and document trends.
  • Undertake laboratory and field research to examine the physiological, behavioral, and evolutionary adaptive capacities of selected species and complexes of species. 
  • Develop comprehensive models to predict changes in the ocean carbon cycle and effects on marine ecosystems and organisms.
  • Develop vulnerability assessments for various CO2 emissions scenarios.
  • Assess the cultural, subsistence, and economic effects of ocean acidification.

Buoys monitor change

Buoys monitor change

In 2019, NOAA and partners launched a buoy in Fagatele Bay to monitor changes in ocean chemistry, including carbon dioxide, which can affect the rich coral reefs and marine species of the bay. Credit: Nerelle Que/ National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa
Ocean acidification is an increase in the acidity of the ocean, which is happening because the ocean is absorbing increasing amounts carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, the release of carbon dioxide from industrial and agricultural activities has increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The ocean absorbs about a quarter of the carbon dioxide we release into the atmosphere each year, so as atmospheric levels have increased so have levels in the ocean. Laboratory and field research has found that many marine organisms respond negatively to ocean acidification, especially those species that make shells or skeletons from calcium carbonate, such as oysters and corals. These negative effects include decreased growth and survival, as well as changes in physiology and metabolism. Ocean acidification is likely to affect not only these species, but also the industries, such as fisheries, aquaculture, and tourism, that depend on them.

“Scientific study of ocean acidification is young enough that researchers are making surprising major discoveries every year,” said Dr. Libby Jewett, director of NOAA’s Ocean Acidification Program. “Federal investment in basic research, long-term monitoring, and multi-disciplinary, applied research, will allow U.S. scientists to develop the knowledge needed to inform policy and help prepare society for rapid shifts in ocean chemistry.”

The strategic plan is available online. More information about the Interagency Working Group on Ocean Acidification and federal agencies’ activities on ocean acidification can be found at the interagency website.

For more information, please contact Monica Allen, director of public affairs at NOAA Research, at 301-734-1123 or by email at

Previous Article Carbon dioxide in the tropical Pacific Ocean is increasing faster than expected
Next Article 'Virtual explorers' invited to the depths of the Gulf of Mexico on NOAA expedition



Phone: 301-713-2458
Address: 1315 East-West Highway Silver Spring, MD 20910

Stay Connected


Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) - or "NOAA Research" - provides the research foundation for understanding the complex systems that support our planet. Working in partnership with other organizational units of the NOAA, a bureau of the Department of Commerce, NOAA Research enables better forecasts, earlier warnings for natural disasters, and a greater understanding of the Earth. Our role is to provide unbiased science to better manage the environment, nationally, and globally.


Can't Find What You Need?
Send Feedback
Copyright 2018 by NOAA Terms Of Use Privacy Statement
Back To Top