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Persistent spatial structuring of coastal ocean acidification in the California Current System

Francis Chan, Jack Barth, Tarik Gouhier, Carol Anne Blanchette, Robert H. Byrne, Francisco P. Chavez, Olivia Cheriton, Richard A. Feely, Gernot Friederich, Brian Gaylord, Sally D. Hacker, Tessa Hill, Gretchen Hofmann, Margaret A. McManus, Bruce A. Menge, Karina J. Nielsen, Ann D. Russell, Eric Sanford, J.C. Sevadjian, Libe Washburn | May 31, 2017
Summary

The near-term progression of ocean acidification (OA) is projected to bring about sharp changes in the chemistry of coastal upwelling ecosystems. The distribution of OA exposure across these early impact systems, however, is highly uncertain and limits our understanding of whether and how spatial management actions can be deployed to ameliorate future impacts. Through a novel coastal OA observing network, we have uncovered a remarkably persistent spatial mosaic in the penetration of acidified waters into ecologically-important nearshore habitats across 1,000 km of the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem. In the most severe exposure hotspots, suboptimal conditions for calcifying organisms encompassed up to 56% of the summer season, and were accompanied by some of the lowest and most variable pH environments known for the surface ocean. Persistent refuge areas were also found, highlighting new opportunities for local adaptation to address the global challenge of OA in productive coastal systems.

Product Description

The near-term progression of ocean acidification (OA) is projected to bring about sharp changes in the chemistry of coastal upwelling ecosystems. The distribution of OA exposure across these early impact systems, however, is highly uncertain and limits our understanding of whether and how spatial management actions can be deployed to ameliorate future impacts. Through a novel coastal OA observing network, we have uncovered a remarkably persistent spatial mosaic in the penetration of acidified waters into ecologically-important nearshore habitats across 1,000 km of the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem. In the most severe exposure hotspots, suboptimal conditions for calcifying organisms encompassed up to 56% of the summer season, and were accompanied by some of the lowest and most variable pH environments known for the surface ocean. Persistent refuge areas were also found, highlighting new opportunities for local adaptation to address the global challenge of OA in productive coastal systems.

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Keywords:

climate change, fisheries, ocean acidification, water quality