Ocean acidification refugia in variable environments

Climate change refugia in the terrestrial biosphere are areas where species are protected from global environmental change and arise from natural heterogeneity in landscapes and climate. Within the marine realm, ocean acidification, or the global decline in seawater pH, remains a pervasive threat to organisms and ecosystems. Natural variability in seawater carbon dioxide (CO2) chemistry, however, presents an opportunity to identify ocean acidification refugia (OAR) for marine species. Here, we review the literature to examine the impacts of variable CO2 chemistry on biological responses to ocean acidification and develop a framework of definitions and criteria that connects current OAR research to management goals. Under the concept of managing vulnerability, the most likely mechanisms by which OAR can mitigate ocean acidification impacts are by reducing exposure to harmful conditions or enhancing adaptive capacity. While local management options, such as OAR, show some promise, they present unique challenges, and reducing global anthropogenic CO2 emissions must remain a priority.

Kapsenberg L. & Cyronak T., in press. Ocean acidification refugia in variable environments. Global Change Biology. Article.

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