Monitoring a troubling trend

Federal agencies ready themselves to tackle ocean acidification.

Ocean scientists and climate observers have witnessed in the past year a flurry of government activity aimed at organizing the explosion of research on ocean acidification and facilitating national monitoring.

The government has supported research on seawater chemistry since at least the 1980s, but over the past decade, more work has been done to specifically study the acidification of the oceans—a decrease in ocean pH due to increasing levels of dissolved carbon dioxide. This research is being accelerated thanks to the Federal Ocean Acidification Research & Monitoring (FOARAM) Act, which was signed into law in March 2009. The law brings together as many as eight federal agencies to draft a plan to tackle ocean acidification.

Among other mandates, the law creates the interagency National Ocean Acidification Program to monitor and research ocean acidification. It also spurs greater investigation by federal agencies of the phenomenon’s effect on ecosystems and strategies to conserve marine life. As a result, the National Science Foundation, a major federal supporter of such work, announced last fall nearly $24 million in special grants for ocean acidification research.

David Pittman, 2011. Monitoring A Troubling Trend. C&EN 89(2):26-27. Article.

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