Monitoring ocean acidification
Ocean acidification threatens marine wildlife, people’s livelihoods, cultural traditions, and the state’s economy. We work with scientists, policymakers, and industry experts to respond to ocean acidification and other adverse effects from a changing climate. We are the first state in the country to develop a monitoring program to track the impacts of ocean acidification on local waters.
What is ocean acidification?
Ocean acidification is the scientific term used to describe how seawater chemistry is changing due to increased amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the ocean from human activities, such as deforestation and combustion of fossil fuels. Learn more about how seawater chemistry changes with rising CO2.
Monitoring ocean acidification
In 2018, we launched the country's first state-level ocean acidification monitoring program. We are measuring marine water conditions across Puget Sound and in coastal estuaries to understand the pace of ocean acidification. We also use the Salish Sea Model, a robust computer modeling tool, to estimate the global and regional impact of ocean acidification in Washington.
Learn about our latest research about ocean acidification:
- In 2017, we reported results from our modeling study looking at how regional nutrient inputs from human activity can exacerbate ocean acidification in marine waters.
- In 2021, we shared the results of a large scale ocean acidification monitoring program we conducted. The peer-reviewed paper discusses initial insights and outlines lessons learned for designing ocean acidification monitoring programs.
Paving the way for action
In 2012, Washington established the Blue Ribbon Panel and led the world by developing the first comprehensive strategy for action to address ocean acidification. This strategy lists 42 actions that increase Washington’s capacity to understand, reduce, and adapt to ocean acidification.
In 2017, the Marine Resources Advisory council released an addendum that expands upon the 2012 report. The addendum updated strategies and actions to address ocean acidification that fall under six overarching categories:
- Reducing carbon emissions.
- Reducing local land-based contributions to ocean acidification.
- Increasing our ability to adapt to and remediate the impacts of ocean acidification.
- Investing in monitoring and scientific investigations.
- Informing, educating and engaging stakeholders, the public and decision makers.
- Maintaining a sustainable and coordinated focus on ocean acidification.
Reducing ocean acidification
Ocean acidification is a global problem with local impacts in Washington that require unique actions. We are identifying solutions and providing critical information needed to adapt to and minimize ocean acidification. We are taking two key actions will help us reduce the impacts of ocean acidification:
- Reducing greenhouse gases from electricity, industrial processes, and transportation to slow climate change.
- Reducing excess nutrients from nitrogen and carbon that hinder healthy aquatic life.
To expand our efforts, we are working with partners across Washington state and other west coast states and investing in science to evaluate policies that can reduce regional ocean acidification beyond Washington's marine waters. Learn more about our partnerships in the related links below.