Ocean acidification’s potential to alter global marine ecosystem services

Ocean acidification lowers the oceanic saturation states of carbonate minerals and decreases the calcification rates of some marine organisms that provide a range of ecosystem services such as wild fishery and aquaculture harvests, coastal protection, tourism, cultural identity, and ecosystem support. Damage to marine ecosystem services by ocean acidification is likely to disproportionately affect developing nations and coastal regions, which often rely more heavily on a variety of marine-related economic and cultural activities. Losses of calcifying organisms or changes in marine food webs could significantly alter global marine harvests, which provided 110 million metric tons of food for humans and were valued at US$160 billion in 2006. Some of the countries most dependent on seafood for dietary protein include developing island nations with few agricultural alternatives. Aquaculture, especially of mollusks, may meet some of the future protein demand of economically developing, growing populations, but ocean acidification may complicate aquaculture of some species. By 2050, both population increases and changes in carbonate mineral saturation state will be greatest in low-latitude regions, multiplying the stresses on tropical marine ecosystems and societies. Identifying costeffective adaptive strategies to mitigate the costs associated with ocean acidification requires development of transferable management strategies that can be tailored to meet the specific needs of regional human and marine communities.



Cooley, S. R., Kite-Powell, H. L., & Doney, S. C., 2009. Ocean acidification’s potential to alter global marine ecosystem services. Oceanography 22(4): 172-181. Article.

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