Washington’s governor and state legislators in the last session created a hub at the University of Washington to coordinate research and monitoring of ocean acidification and its effects on local sea life such as oysters, clams and fish.
Based on what’s learned, the center will marshal efforts to improve the ability to forecast when and where corrosive waters might occur and suggest adaptive strategies to mitigate the effects.
“I don’t know of any other place in the nation where the state legislature has had the foresight to allocate funding to address these questions,” said Terrie Klinger, UW associate professor of marine and environmental affairs, and co-director of the new center with Jan Newton, principal oceanographer at the UW Applied Physics Laboratory.
The UW, which received $1.8 million in state funding for the center’s first two years, will work with investigators from other universities such as Western Washington University and with agencies, tribes, the shellfish industry and other organizations to address the needs specified by the legislature.
When the ocean absorbs excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere it becomes slightly more acidic and can deprive animals such as oysters, clams and crabs of the building materials for their shells. When such animals encounter carbon dioxide-rich waters, particularly in their earliest stages as larvae and juveniles, it can cause poor development or death.