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Archive for ocean acidification

Confluence: Helping the Oregon coast adapt to a changing climate

Posted by: | April 18, 2016 Comments Off on Confluence: Helping the Oregon coast adapt to a changing climate |

The spring/summer issue of our Confluence newsletter is online, with stories about Oregon Sea Grant faculty and funded researchers who are working to understand how a changing climate will affect the region, and what coastal communities can do to adapt.

Shore Acres State Park, Cape Arago

Shore Acres State Park, Cape Arago

This  issue explores:

  • How coastal communities can tap into existing laws to manage their resources on a local level
  • Water conservation and restoration strategies that might mitigate the effects of drought on agriculture, fisheries and recreation
  • What those in the west coast shellfish industry understand about ocean acidification, how it affects their multimillion-dollar industry, and what they can do to adapt
  • The role stakeholders can play in complex research, including a regional assessment of future water availability in the Willamette River basin
  • Computer modeling efforts to predict rising sea levels will affect Oregon’s coastal estuaries

Download the .pdf of Confluence

under: climate, climate adaptation, coastal hazards, Confluence, ocean acidification, publications, sea level rise, water quality & conservation

West coast science panel issues report, call for action on ocean acidification, hypoxia

Posted by: | April 4, 2016 Comments Off on West coast science panel issues report, call for action on ocean acidification, hypoxia |

P2 - Logo 1Although ocean acidification and hypoxia are global phenomena, the US-Canada West Coast will face some of the most severe changes, with impacts extending through marine food webs and threatening ocean-dependent industries and coastal communities.

So says a report released today by a panel of 20 scientific experts from Oregon, California, Washington and British Columbia charged with summarizing what’s known about the problem and what options the region has for coping with it.

Major findings:

  • Acidification and hypoxia will have severe environmental, ecological and economic consequences for the West Coast, and will require a concerted regional focus.
  • Global carbon emissions are the dominant cause of acidification
  • There are actions that can be taken to lessen exposure to acidification, and to enhance the ability of ecosystems and organisms to cope.
  • Investing in acidification science will expand the available management options.
  • Inaction now will reduce those options and impose higher costs later.

Among the panelists are Oregon State University researchers Frances Chan, who co-chaired the group, George Waldbusser, Burke Hales and Jack Barth, all of whom have received research funding support from Oregon Sea Grant.

The panel’s report provides a comprehensive analysis, along with technical guidance for ocean program managers and a summary of foundational science about how acidification and hypoxia affect individual species, populations and ecosystems, the science needs of managers and challenges and opportunities in the realm of water quality.

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under: climate, climate adaptation, environment, fisheries, ocean acidification

Ocean acidification: Oyster industry thinks it’s doing harm

Posted by: | August 26, 2015 Comments Off on Ocean acidification: Oyster industry thinks it’s doing harm |

The public may not be convinced that ocean acidification is a problem, but a growing number of those who make their living off the ocean have become believers.

Becky Mabardy (foreground) and Iria Gimenez working in Waldbusser lab, 2013A new Oregon Sea Grant-funded survey, being published this week in the Journal of Shellfish Research, found that more than 80% of respondents from the US West Coast shellfish industry are convinced that acidification is having consequences – a figure more than four times higher than found among the broader public, researchers say. And about half the industry people surveyed reported having experienced some impact from acidification.

“The shellfish industry recognizes the consequences of ocean acidification for people today, people in this lifetime, and for future generations – to a far greater extent than the U.S. public,” said Rebecca Mabardy, a former OSU graduate student and lead author on the study.”The good news is that more than half of the respondents expressed optimism – at least, guarded optimism – for the industry’s ability to adapt to acidification.

George Waldbusser and Burke Hales inspect oysters at Whiskey Creek HatcheryThe mechanisms causing ocean acidification are complex, and few in the shellfish industry initially understood the science behind the issue, said OSU marine ecologist George Waldbusser,  who has worked with Northwest oyster growers on mitigating the effects of ocean acidification. However, he added, many have developed a rather sophisticated understanding of the basic concepts of carbon dioxide impacts on the ocean and understand the risks to their enterprise.

“Many have seen the negative effects of acidified water on the survival of their juvenile oysters — and those who have experienced a direct impact obviously have a higher degree of concern about the issue,” Waldbusser pointed out. “Others are anticipating the effects of acidification and want to know just what will happen, and how long the impacts may last.

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under: aquaculture, climate, ocean acidification, Oregon Sea Grant, research, shellfish

Corvallis Science Pub: An acidic ocean?

Posted by: | May 5, 2015 Comments Off on Corvallis Science Pub: An acidic ocean? |

It’s been called the “evil twin” of climate change. As the oceans absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and surface waters become more acidic, changes to marine ecosystems are likely to follow. Coral reefs, shell-forming organisms and the fish and marine mammals that depend on them are at risk.

At the May 11 Corvallis Science Pub, George Waldbusser will describe what scientists know about the biological effects of ocean acidification. The Science Pub presentation is free and open to the public. It begins at 6 p.m. at the Old World Deli, 341 S.W. 2nd St. in Corvallis.

On average, the oceans are about 30 percent more acidic today than they were a century ago, and impacts are already being seen along the West Coast. Waldbusser and his students have turned their attention to the region’s oyster industry, which had $73 million in sales in 2009.

Oyster larvae are sensitive to acidification and Waldbusser, an assistant professor in Oregon State’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, is working to understand why.

“With larval oysters, what we see are developmental issues,” he said. “From the time eggs are fertilized, Pacific oyster larvae will precipitate roughly 90 percent of their body weight as a calcium carbonate shell within 48 hours.”

His research has been supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Oregon Sea Grant and other agencies.

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under: aquaculture, climate, ocean acidification, research, Science Pub, shellfish

Call for abstracts: Ocean acidification, hypoxia and decision-making

Posted by: | March 27, 2015 Comments Off on Call for abstracts: Ocean acidification, hypoxia and decision-making |

The Coastal and Estuarine Research Foundation (CERF) invites abstracts for presentations as part of an oral session at CERF 2015 this November, highlighting opportunities for linking scientists and natural resource managers to promote effective, science-based decision making on ocean acidification and hypoxia.

Convened by the Ocean Science Trust, the Institute for Natural Resources and Oregon Sea Grant, the session is planned to include talks about ocean acidification and hypoxia in two areas:

  • Social or natural science, focusing on connecting science to ocean and coastal policy, regulation, industry and/or management
  • Decision-making in natural resource management

CERF 2015, the organization’s 23rd biennial conference, takes place in Portland, OR Nov. 8-12. For more information about the conference and registration, visit http://www.erf.org/.

under: conferences, environment, marine policy, marine science, ocean acidification

New study finds “saturation state” directly harmful to bivalve larvae

Posted by: | December 16, 2014 Comments Off on New study finds “saturation state” directly harmful to bivalve larvae |

Hatchery-reared oysters (photo by OSU News & Research Communication)The mortality of larval Pacific oysters in Northwest hatcheries has been linked to ocean acidification, yet the rate of increase in anthropogenic carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the decrease of pH in near-shore waters have been questioned as being severe enough to cause the die-offs.

However, a new study of Pacific oyster and Mediterranean mussel larvae found that the earliest larval stages are directly sensitive to saturation state, not carbon dioxide (CO2) or pH. Saturation state is a measure of how corrosive seawater is to the calcium carbonate shells made by bivalve larvae, and how easy it is for larvae to produce their shells.

It is important to note that increasing CO2 lowers saturation state, the researchers say, and saturation state is very sensitive to CO2; the challenge interpreting previous studies is that saturation state and pH typically vary together with increasing CO2. The scientists utilized unique chemical manipulations of seawater to identify the direct sensitivity of larval bivalves to saturation state.

Results of the study, which was funded by the National Science Foundation, are being reported this week in the journal Nature Climate Change.

“Bivalves have been around for a long time and have survived different geologic periods of high carbon dioxide levels in marine environments,” said George Waldbusser , an Oregon State University marine ecologist and biogeochemist and lead author on the study, “The difference is that in the past, alkalinity levels buffered increases in CO2, which kept the saturation state higher relative to pH.”

“The difference in the present ocean is that the processes that contribute buffering to the ocean cannot keep pace with the rate of anthropogenic CO2 increase,” added Waldbusser, who is in Oregon State’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences.  “As long as the saturation state is high, the oysters and mussels we tested could tolerate CO2 concentrations almost 10 times what they are today.”

The idea that early bivalve development and growth is not as physiologically linked to CO2 or pH levels as previously thought initially seems positive. However, the reverse is actually true, Waldbusser noted. Larval oysters and mussels are so sensitive to the saturation state (which is lowered by increasing CO2) that the threshold for danger will be crossed “decades to centuries” ahead of when CO2   increases (and pH decreases) alone would pose a threat to these bivalve larvae.

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under: aquaculture, climate, ecology, ocean acidification, research

Science Pub to explore the future of oceans

Posted by: | May 8, 2014 Comments Off on Science Pub to explore the future of oceans |

CORVALLIS – The effects of global climate change and associated threats to the oceans are the topic for the May 12 edition of Science Pub Corvallis, presented at the Majestic Theatre, 115 SW 2nd St., from 6-8 pm. Admission to the public talk is free.

Andrew Thurber, a post-doctoral fellow in Oregon State University’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences (CEOAS), will lead the discussion in an informal presentation where questions are welcomed.

The Earth’s oceans face multiple climate-related stresses: warming temperatures, low oxygen, acidification and a lack of biological productivity. As marine ecosystems respond, the consequences could be felt directly by about 2 billion people whose lives depend on ocean fisheries and other resources. Those are among the results reported by an international team of 29 scientists who studied the influence of climate change on marine systems from the poles to the Equator.

Thurber, who holds a Ph.D from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, helped to conceive the study and was a co-author of the report that appeared in October 2013 in the journal PLOS Biology. “What is really sobering about these findings is that they don’t even include other impacts to the world’s oceans such as sea level rise, pollution, over-fishing, and increasing storm intensity and frequency,” he says. “All of these could compound the problem significantly.”

Thurber will discuss the study and actions needed to avert the most significant changes.  His research focuses on deep-sea ecosystems, particularly the role of invertebrates in recycling nutrients and sequestering carbon. He has conducted experiments under seasonal sea ice in Antarctica and explored communities that live around methane seeps near New Zealand and Costa Rica.

Science Pub Corvallis is sponsored by OSU’s TERRA magazine

Learn more …

under: climate, events, lectures, ocean acidification, science communication, Science Pub, storms

Register-Guard: Changing ocean chemistry threatens marine life

Posted by: | September 23, 2013 Comments Off on Register-Guard: Changing ocean chemistry threatens marine life |

The Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery on the state’s north coast watched oyster larvae die en masse for three years in a row in the mid-2000s — depriving oyster farms along the entire West Coast of seed oysters.

Florence crabber Al Pazar saw baby octopuses, an inch or two long, climb up his crab lines to escape the sea waters in the 2005 season. When he pulled up his pots, the crab were dead.

Eugene fisherman Ryan Rogers, who drags in great piles of salmon on an Alaska purse seiner, has instead brought up nets full of jellyfish in recent years.

“Sometimes we’ll catch 4,000 or 5,000 pounds of jellyfish. They spray all around. We get stung,” he said. “It makes it difficult to bring your net in. You have to let it go and lose the salmon that are in your net.”

Scientists — including many at Oregon State University — are beginning to define the cause of these events. They call it ocean acidification and hypoxia.

Wind, currents and ocean chemistry conspire to create pools of corrosive waters that can be lethal to key commercial species in Northwest waters — and favorable to some nuisance species, such as jellyfish. …

The Eugene Register-Guard examines what OSU scientists – some of them working with Oregon Sea Grant funding – are learning about the causes and consequences of ocean acidification.

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under: Confluence, marine science, ocean acidification, oceanography, Oregon Sea Grant, Oregon State University, research, shellfish

South coast native oysters may survive acidification threat

Posted by: | August 5, 2013 Comments Off on South coast native oysters may survive acidification threat |

Oyster baskets at Whiskey Creek Shellfish HatcheryCOOS BAY – While some West coast oyster stocks are threatened by rising ocean acidity, native oysters on Oregon’s south coast seem to be doing well.

Netarts Bay’s Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery — which produces much of the oyster seed used by commercial farms in the region —has experienced a decline in production that Oregon State University researchers traced directly to ocean acidification.

But biologist Steve Rumrill, director of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife shellfish monitoring program at the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, suspects that the shallow parts of Coos Bay “may be able to act as a sort of buffer,” protecting native Olympia oysters in that area from the shell-destroying effects of ocean acidification.

Another clue could lie in the oysters’ breeding habits, according to George Waldbusser, an OSU biologist who studies oyster reproduction and survival.

“Olympias are brooders,” Waldbusser said, referring to the species’ trait of carrying eggs in an internal chamber for several weeks after fertilization, whereas the Pacific oysters bred in Netarts Bay broadcast their fertilized eggs into the open water, where they are directly exposed to chemical changes at an earlier point in their life cycles, when they may be more vulnerable.

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under: aquaculture, ocean acidification, research, seafood, shellfish

OSU secures critical funding to continue ocean acidification research

Posted by: | July 22, 2013 Comments Off on OSU secures critical funding to continue ocean acidification research |

Oregon State University will receive funds that will help the West Coast’s shellfish industry in its fight against ocean acidification, thanks largely to the efforts of Oregon state Senator Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose). Receipt of these funds will give a critical boost to Oregon State University’s and the shellfish industry’s efforts to reduce the negative impacts of ocean acidification on shellfish production.

House Bill 5008 allocated $250,000 to Oregon State University. A portion of the funds will be used to continue OSU’s efforts to improve the resilience of oyster to ocean acidification through its selective breeding program at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport. The remaining funds will be dedicated to OSU’s collaboration with industry leaders at the Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery (see “The Whiskey Creek Shellfish Acid Tests” in the current issue of Confluence) on Netarts Bay as they continue to identify better ways to manage the negative effects of ocean acidification on shellfish larvae.

You can read the rest of this story here.

under: aquaculture, Confluence, ecology, environment, fisheries, grants, marine animals, marine science, news, ocean acidification, Oregon Sea Grant, Oregon State University, research, seafood, shellfish

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