The ocean provides vital resources and services for sustaining humankind including food, recreation, transportation, energy, nutrient-cycling, and climate moderation. Through such resources and services, the ocean substantially contributes to the United States economy. Science is only beginning to indicate how changes in seawater chemistry due to ocean acidification may affect marine organisms and ecosystems and the resources and services they provide. But based on studies to date of acidification’s observed and projected impacts on a number of important classes of marine organisms, significant changes in marine ecosystems appear to be likely.
This document is the fourth biennial summary and progress report submitted under the Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring Act of 2009 (FOARAM Act, P.L. 111-11, Subtitle D). The FOARAM Act specifies that the Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology (SOST) under the National Science and Technology Council Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Sustainability shall transmit a biennial report to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology and the Committee on Natural Resources of the House of Representatives that includes:
1. A summary of Federally-funded ocean acidification research and monitoring activities, including the budget for each of these activities; and
2. An analysis of the progress made toward achieving the goals and priorities for the interagency research plan developed by the Subcommittee under section 12405 of the FORARAM Act.
The SOST’s Interagency Working Group on Ocean Acidification produced this report, which summarizes Federal agency activities related to ocean acidification for fiscal years (FY) 2014 and 2015. The report is organized into sections covering geographic regions. Within each region, information is organized by the thematic areas as outlined within the Strategic Plan for Federal Research and Monitoring of Ocean Acidification (Strategic Plan), and then by Federal agency. Some regions did not host activities for every thematic area, and an additional category called “Other ocean acidification research and monitoring activities” is used for items not adequately captured by the Strategic Plan’s themes.
The Appendix provides a summary of expenditure amounts for individual agencies’ ocean acidification research and monitoring activities. In the expenditures tables, activities are classified as either having a primary focus on ocean acidification or being contributing activities that were designed for other purposes but clearly provide information useful for understanding ocean acidification. In FY 2014, Federal agencies provided approximately $27 million (M) toward activities with a primary focus on ocean acidification and an additional $9M for contributing activities. In FY 2015, Federal funding was approximately $18M for primary activities and $9M for contributing activities. The funding decrease from FY 2014 to FY 2015 reflects the National Science Foundation’s front-funding approach to multi-year projects rather than a significant long-term reduction in ocean acidification investments. Primary and contributing activities included monitoring of ocean chemistry and biological impacts, research to understand species-specific and ecosystem responses to ocean acidification, biogeochemical and ecosystem modeling, technology development, assessment of socioeconomic impacts from ocean acidification, education and outreach activities, data management and integration, and other activities.