Changes in ocean chemistry may lead to severe ecological consequences in NW coastal waters


Ocean acidification illustration courtesy of NOAA

In a comprehensive report released on April 4, the West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Science Panel warned of possible devastating ecological consequences if northwest states don’t adequately respond to changing seawater chemistry.

The 20 member scientific panel cited increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide from human activities resulting in ocean acidification and other changes to ocean chemistry.  Due to ocean circulation patterns in the Pacific Ocean the North American West Coast is disproportionately exposed to high volumes of seawater with elevated acidity levels.  One impact of elevated acidity levels cited in the report are high mortality rates among early life stages of shellfish when shell formation is critical.

Recommendations from panel include:

  • using seagrass to remove carbon dioxide from the ocean
  • revising water quality standards to reflect the changes in ocean chemistry
  • reducing land-based contributions entering the ocean
  • increased monitoring along the West Coast


The full report can be found at…



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