Communicating ocean deoxygenation: developing recommendations for communicating ocean deoxygenation to California policy makers

A problem associated with anthropogenic climate change that is often overlooked by policy makers is the loss of oxygen within the ocean, referred to as ocean deoxygenation. This problem has the potential to cause immense harm to the oceans, the organisms found within, and the resources and ecosystem services
the oceans provide for humans. Despite the threats to our ecosystem and well-
being, ocean deoxygenation is relatively unknown to policy makers and the
public. Although studies have documented the loss of oxygen in the oceans over the last 50 years, it was only within the last 10 years that the term “ocean deoxygenation” was even created, cementing the connection between oxygen loss and anthropogenic climate change. Few efforts have been made to communicate this issue outside the scientific community, but an effort to address ocean deoxygenation must be made soon if we want to reverse or mitigate its effects.
California has experienced large percentages of oxygen loss over the past few decades: Monterey Bay lost 39.9% of its oxygen between 1998 and 2014 at 250-
400 meters depth, and the Southern California Bight lost 21% of its oxygen at 300 meters depth between 1984 and 2006 (Levin et al., 2018). This paper reviews ocean deoxygenation awareness, the successful campaign to communicate ocean acidification, and outlines communication recommendations to raise awareness of this issue among California legislators and policy makers in hopes of influencing mitigation policy and practices. These recommendations were created based on successful communication methods used in communicating the similar climate change-related issue of ocean acidification. Ocean acidification is a comparable example of an ocean health issue that continues to be communicated to policy members at the state and federal level. Ocean acidification and ocean deoxygenation are related to climate change;both exhibit complex mechanisms that can be simplified into succinct messages, and both became established in the literature with in the past two decades. The communication model used for ocean acidification will serve as a good base from which to develop recommendations for communication about ocean deoxygenation. This communication recommendation framework is meant to help establish a California-based case study of how to approach communicating ocean deoxygenation that can be used to guide future communication methods at the federal level.

Shatto S., 2018. Communicating ocean deoxygenation: developing recommendations for communicating ocean deoxygenation to California policy makers. MSc thesis, Scripps Institute of Oceanography UC San Diego, 32 p. Thesis.

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