Acidifying oceans: A Florida research project

By Rachel M. Gregg

There are very limited adaptation options for dealing with ocean acidification; one project from our inventory involves increasing scientific understanding of ocean chemistry to inform policy and management.

The FLaSH Ecosystem Project, based out of Florida's USGS St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center,  builds upon earlier efforts to conduct benthic habitat mapping in Florida by including consideration of climate change impacts, especially ocean acidification, on living marine resources along the shelf. Scientists are studying ocean chemistry to better understand the impacts of higher levels of atmospheric CO2 on marine and coastal resources. They are examining baseline carbon and carbonate data and the process of biogenic calcification along the east and west shelves of Florida. Both shelves are located along a gradient of temperate and subtropical climates. Scientists are examining the distribution changes between benthic assemblages in temperate and subtropical zones to find evidence of ocean acidification effects on calcifying organisms. In addition, researchers are using satellite data to provide a view of how the Florida shelf is responding to environmental change over time. Results of this project will inform policy and science decisions on potential remediation efforts to protect living marine resources along Florida’s shelf. Partners include the University of South Florida College of Marine Science, NOAA, Eckerd College, Clean Beaches Council, and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. For more information, check out http://coastal.er.usgs.gov/flash.