Proposed Abstract Title

Investigating the power of kelp to mitigate ocean acidification

Type of Presentation

Oral

Session Title

Tackling ocean acidification in the Salish Sea: Six projects happening now to mitigate the impacts, adapt to changing conditions and strengthen resiliency of these marine waters

Description

Washington State is on the front lines of ocean acidification in myriad ways. Along with Oregon, we’re among the first to experience its effects, but we’re also among the first to develop adaptation and mitigation strategies.

Acting on a recommendation of the Washington State Blue Ribbon Panel, Puget Sound Restoration Fund is currently spearheading a top-notch team of scientists to investigate the potential for kelp to improve carbonate chemistry in local waters. Cultivating and harvesting kelp and other seaweeds in the marine system may help mitigate ocean acidification by directly removing CO2 from the water, creating local pH refugia for marine organisms during grow-out and then removing carbon from the system by harvesting the kelp and using it to produce marketable products.

With partial funding from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, the 4-year investigation is being conducted at a demonstration site in Hood Canal, Washington. Pilot scale cultivation of Sugar kelp is scheduled for 2016 with full-scale cultivation and in-field investigation planned for 2017 and 2018.

Our collaborative team is highly motivated to find solutions for mitigating ocean acidification locally in order to protect species that are important ecologically, culturally, and economically. Key calcifying species are already being affected by ocean acidification, including pteropods, tiny marine snails that are an important part of the marine food chain. Recent research shows that 50% of pteropods off the Washington and Oregon coast are already showing signs of dissolution. Moving forward, it is vital that we develop multiple tools and mitigation strategies that can be used in a variety of marine spaces and habitats, since carbon emissions will likely continue to increase the effects of ocean acidification. Kelp cultivation should be part of our growing toolkit to improve conditions for multiple species and bolster resiliency in marine waters.

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Investigating the power of kelp to mitigate ocean acidification

Washington State is on the front lines of ocean acidification in myriad ways. Along with Oregon, we’re among the first to experience its effects, but we’re also among the first to develop adaptation and mitigation strategies.

Acting on a recommendation of the Washington State Blue Ribbon Panel, Puget Sound Restoration Fund is currently spearheading a top-notch team of scientists to investigate the potential for kelp to improve carbonate chemistry in local waters. Cultivating and harvesting kelp and other seaweeds in the marine system may help mitigate ocean acidification by directly removing CO2 from the water, creating local pH refugia for marine organisms during grow-out and then removing carbon from the system by harvesting the kelp and using it to produce marketable products.

With partial funding from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, the 4-year investigation is being conducted at a demonstration site in Hood Canal, Washington. Pilot scale cultivation of Sugar kelp is scheduled for 2016 with full-scale cultivation and in-field investigation planned for 2017 and 2018.

Our collaborative team is highly motivated to find solutions for mitigating ocean acidification locally in order to protect species that are important ecologically, culturally, and economically. Key calcifying species are already being affected by ocean acidification, including pteropods, tiny marine snails that are an important part of the marine food chain. Recent research shows that 50% of pteropods off the Washington and Oregon coast are already showing signs of dissolution. Moving forward, it is vital that we develop multiple tools and mitigation strategies that can be used in a variety of marine spaces and habitats, since carbon emissions will likely continue to increase the effects of ocean acidification. Kelp cultivation should be part of our growing toolkit to improve conditions for multiple species and bolster resiliency in marine waters.