Oceans regulate our climate and our weather. They are essential for cycling water, carbon, and nutrients. Since the start of the Industrial Revolution, the oceans have absorbed nearly 30 percent of human generated carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. As carbon dioxide mixes with ocean water, the water becomes more acidic -- today, the oceans are 30 percent more acidic than they were before the Industrial Revolution. Even more troubling is that the chemistry of the oceans is changing 10 times faster than at any other time in the past 50 million years, making it challenging for organisms to adapt to these new conditions at the same rate.
More acidic oceans will have broad and significant impacts on marine ecosystems, the services they provide, and the coastal economies which depend on them. In addition to decreasing our carbon emissions, it is critical that we understand the process of ocean acidification and its impacts. A necessary first step toward developing a better understanding is to monitor and measure the ocean to learn what changes are occurring and when. This requires a network of scientists around the world collecting, organizing, and analyzing data on ocean acidification -- a global ocean "vital signs" monitoring network focused specifically on ocean acidification and its effects on ocean health. A new and growing Global Monitoring Network for Ocean Acidification is starting to be developed and will require strategically placed monitoring equipment and trained personnel to be effective and help us to understand and respond to this growing problem.
Ocean acidification is one of the three topics -- along with sustainable fisheries and marine pollution -- discussed at the U.S. Department of State’s Our Ocean Conference. Learn more about these issues and the conference at state.gov/ourocean.
For more information:
- Read the "Our Ocean" Conference Agenda for June 17, and watch the live webcast of events on state.gov/ourocean.
- Join Secretary of State John Kerry and Bill Nye "The Science Guy" for a Twitter Q&A at 10:00 a.m. EDT on June 17.
- Follow the Bureau of Oceans, International Environmental, and Scientific Affairs (OES) on Twitter, and like OES on Facebook.