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Model development to assess carbon fluxes during shell formation in blue mussels

In order to quantify the amount of carbonate, precipitated as calcium-carbonate in the shells of blue mussel (Mytilus edulis) in a temperate climate, an existing Dynamic Energy Budget (DEB) model for the blue mussel was adapted by separating shell growth from soft tissue growth. Hereby, two parameters were added to the original DEB-model, a calcification cost [J/mgCaCO3] and an energy allocation fraction [-], which resulted in the energy allocated for structural growth being divided between shell and meat growth. As values for these new parameters were lacking, they were calibrated by fitting the model to field data. Calibration results showed that an Energy allocation fraction of 0.5 and a calcification cost of 0.9 J/mgCaCO3, resulted in the best fit when fitted on 2017 and 2018 field data separately. These values however, show the best fit for data obtained within the first couple of years of the shellfish life, and do not take later years into account. Also it could be discussed that some parameters vary throughout the lifespan of the species. The results were compared to a regular DEB model, where the shell output was calculated through a simple allometric relationship. It is sometimes assumed that the carbon storage in shell material as calcium carbonate could be regarded as a form of carbon sequestration, with a positive impact on the atmospheric CO2 concentrations. However, studies on the physical-chemical processes related to shell formation have shown that from an oceanographic perspective, shell formation should be regarded as a source of atmospheric CO2 rather than a sink. The removal of carbonates, through the biocalcification process, reduces the buffer capacity (alkalinity) of the water to store CO2. As a result CO2 is released from the water to the atmosphere when shell material is formed. The actual amount of CO2 that escapes from the water to the atmosphere as a result of biocalcification depends strongly on local water characteristics. In this study, the effect of calcification by mussels on the CO2 flux to the atmosphere is studied using an adapted DEB model where energy costs of calcification are modelled explicitly. The model was subsequently run under two future climate scenarios, (RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.3) with elevated temperature and decreased pH, and the total released CO2 as a result of shell formation was calculated with the SeaCarb model. This showed growth of mussels, under future climate conditions to be slower, and with that the cumulative shell mass and carbonate precipitated to CaCO3 to decrease. Yet the amount of CO2 released, due to biocalcification, increased. This is due to the fact that the amount of CO2 released/gr of CaCO3 precipitated will be higher, as a result of the decreased buffering capacity of seawater under future climatic environmental conditions.

In summary the conclusions of the project were:

  • Biocalcification (shell formation) of marine organisms, such as bivalves, cannot be regarded as a process resulting in negative CO2 emission to the atmosphere;
  • The actual amount of CO2 that, due to biocalcification, is released from the water to the atmosphere depends on the physicochemical characteristics of the water, which are influenced by (future) climate conditions;
  • Our first model calculations suggest that at future climate conditions mussel’s grow rate will be somewhat reduced. While the amount of CO2 that due to biocalcification, escapes to the atmosphere during its life-time will slightly increase. Making the ratio of g CO2 release/g CaCO3 precipitated slightly higher;
  • Our model calculations should be considered an exercise rather than a definite prediction of how mussels will respond to future climate scenarios. Additional information/experimentation is strongly needed to validate the model settings, and to test the validity of the above mentioned outcome of the model.
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Chapter 4: ocean chemistry – Irish Ocean Climate And Ecosystem Status Report 2023

Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to the atmosphere have increased inexorably since the industrial revolution, due to fossil fuel combustion, cement production and land-use change. This has resulted in an average global atmospheric partial pressure of CO2 of ~ 415.7 +/- 0.2 ppm in 2021, which is 149% of preindustrial levels (WMO 2022). Today’s atmospheric CO2 levels would likely be much higher, had the oceans not absorbed about one quarter to one third of the total anthropogenic CO2 emissions (IPCC, 2019; Bindoff et al., 2019). Increasing carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere results in changes to ocean chemistry, which impact marine life. The uptake of CO2 in the oceans has caused the ocean to become more acidic due to the increase of protons (H+ ions) as a result of reactions of CO2 with the surrounding seawater. This change is measured using the (logarithmic) pH scale and the process is known as ocean acidification (OA).

Not only is the pH of seawater decreasing with ocean acidification, the carbonate ion concentration (CO3 2-) is decreasing at the same time, which particularly affects calcifying organisms. The two most common forms of calcium carbonate used by calcifying organisms to produce their shells and skeletons are aragonite and calcite. Calcifying organisms such as bivalves and corals will find it particularly difficult to build their protective hard parts when CO3 2- is diminishing. In addition, the ocean depths below which aragonite and calcite tend to dissolve is getting shallower. The aragonite saturation horizon (ASH) has already shoaled by 80–400 m in the North Atlantic since pre-industrial times (Feely et al., 2004; Tanhua et al., 2007) and is projected to rise further from 2600 m to as shallow as 200 m depth by the end of the century (Orr et al., 2005). Benthic deep-sea ecosystems such as cold-water coral reefs that currently live in supersaturated waters with respect to aragonite are projected to be exposed to aragonite undersaturation by the end of the century due to OA (about 70% of known habitats, Guinotte et al., 2006; Zheng and Cao, 2015).

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New edition of the “OA-ICC Highlights”, December 2022 – April 2023

The new edition of the “OA-ICC Highlights” summarizes the project’s main activities and achievements over the period December 2022 – April 2023. This time our newsletter features a Technical Meeting on Meta-Analyses Using the Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre (OA-ICC) Bibliographic Database and Other Data Resources, a Consultancy Meeting of the SCOR-COBS Working Group and a Technical Meeting on Ocean Acidification for Scientists from the Mediterranean Region (GOA-ON OA Med-Hub). A novelty of this edition is the “Under the lens” section that aims to showcase the use of nuclear and isotopic techniques in ocean acidification research conducted at the IAEA Marine Environment Laboratories in Monaco.

Previous editions of the “OA-ICC Highlights”can be viewed here.

OA-ICC, 11 May 2023. Newsletter.

Applications of ecosystem risk assessment in federal fisheries to advance ecosystem-based fisheries management

Executive Summary

Managing U.S. federal fisheries often requires considering complex interactions among fisheries, protected species, habitats, and other ecosystem components, including humans and climate. In addition, management that focuses on individual species can experience undesirable and unexpected changes due to unaccounted for impacts of climate or other ecosystem factors. Regional fishery management councils (Councils) need ways to efficiently process these interactions and the potential impacts they may have on meeting Council management objectives. One tool that can help with this is the ecosystem-level risk assessment (ERA), also called ecological risk assessments or vulnerability assessments. ERAs are management decision tools that can assist Councils in integrating large amounts of ecosystem information in a standardized, yet flexible and transparent way to help identify issues to prioritize in science or management. The purpose of this document is to share applied results from five regional case studies of ERA. The case studies cover different geographies illustrate how Councils can systematically approach ERA to help address current challenges and advance ecosystem-based fisheries management. To demonstrate the versatility of this tool, we organized the case studies by three different applications in the adaptive fishery management process: screening, prioritization, and evaluation. We emphasized broader ERAs that analyzed a number of different ecosystem drivers in one assessment. To improve the process of incorporating ecosystem information into fishery management decisions, we summarize key takeaways from the case studies. Finally, we provide additional recommendations for optimizing ERA use at the end of this report.

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The NOAA ocean acidification program 2023 community meeting summary report

From January 4-6, 2023 the NOAA Ocean Acidification Program (OAP) convened the OAP Community Meeting at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, CA. This tri-annual meeting, recently renamed as the OAP Community Meeting, was restructured from previous years in order to create a more inclusive environment; the meeting was open to all those interested in ocean acidification (OA) research. The goals of the meeting were: 1) to shape the future strategic direction of OAP; 2) to inform community members of recent OAP-supported efforts, 3) to foster collaborations within the OA research community; 4) to identify critical research gaps and efforts to address them; and 5) to highlight and discuss diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility, and justice in the OA research community. These goals were represented throughout the agenda, which included topical topical sessions, panel discussions, and working lunches (the participant agenda can be accessed here; see Appendix I).

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OSPAR Quality Status report 2023: Ocean Acidification

Every year the ocean absorbs at least a quarter of the carbon dioxide (CO2) released to the atmosphere from burning of fossil fuels, cement production and land use change. This is driving ocean acidification. This assessment represents the first OSPAR assessment of Ocean Acidification in the North-East Atlantic and addresses trends and variability, projections of future acidification, impacts on ecosystems and ecosystem services and mitigation and adaption.

Key findings

  • Ocean acidification has been observed in all OSPAR Regions during the past decades. It is projected to keep occurring and even accelerate under the higher carbon dioxide (CO2) emission scenarios.
  • The rate at which ocean acidification occurs varies geographically and throughout the water column. This variability is particularly evident in coastal environments due to the complex interactions of local physical, chemical and biological processes.
  • Ocean acidification is a major threat to marine species and ecosystems, with direct consequences to ecosystem services. Studies on biological impacts have indicated that there will be clear changes in organisms’ structure, distribution, and ability to function as a result of ocean acidification effects.
  • Threatened and / or declining species and habitats, for example cold water coral reefs Lophelia pertusa, are particularly vulnerable to changing environmental conditions, including ocean acidification, and evidence suggests that some commercially important species may also be negatively impacted by these effects.
  • Ocean acidification effects interact with other pressures from environmental change and ecological interactions. The ability of species to adapt to ocean acidification will depend on the rate of environmental change, evolutionary processes and for most species, the present standing genetic variation.
  • Our understanding of trends, variability, drivers, and ecological impact of ocean acidification needs to improve. This requires better harmonised and tailored monitoring and data integration, further integration of observations and model products, and an ongoing multi-strand research effort to better predict impacts.
  • Climate change mitigation and adaptation responses are in many cases also effective against ocean acidification, but some proposed responses may also exacerbate ocean acidification and its impacts.
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The December WIOMSA Newsbrief is out!

We are delighted  to announce that the December issue of the WIOMSA Newsbrief has been published. This issue of the Newsbrief  features WIOMSA at COP 27 in Egypt  where we unveiled the Report on Ocean Acidification monitoring in the Western Indian Ocean. Other key features  include a spotlight on our newly elected Board members and the resolutions passed at WIOMSA’s 7th General Assembly in October. The Newsbrief highlights the cutting edge science outputs from our research projects, regional news, new publications and recently published papers . Also featured are WIOMSA’s affiliate networks.

Download the December Newsbrief.

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Review predicts big climate change impact on some marine mammals

A new DOC report predicts that climate change could have a major impact on some of New Zealand’s marine mammals.

Read the report

Co-authored by Jim Roberts, Anemone Consultants, and Hannah Hendriks, DOC’s Marine Technical Advisor, the research paper examines climate change in relation to marine mammals’ habitat, distribution, food sources and predators.

It looked at how specific climate change hazards, such as increasing sea temperatures, rising sea levels, changes in ocean circulation and effects on prey species, would impact marine mammals around New Zealand.

The report identifies changes in food supply as the biggest threat to marine mammals in New Zealand waters.  

“This is likely to impact populations including kekeno/New Zealand fur seal in the Westland region and blue whales foraging at the South Taranaki Bight,” says Hannah Hendriks.

“Māui dolphins also appear vulnerable, based on their location at the warm end of the species’ range and an apparent low availability of prey species.”

Projected changes to the New Zealand environment include sea surface temperatures rising more than 3oC, changes in atmospheric climate and oceanographic circulation, rising sea levels, and widespread ocean acidification.  

“As a result, it is possible species normally living in warmer subtropical waters like the dense-beaked whale, dwarf sperm whale, pan-tropical spotted dolphin, short-finned pilot whale and pygmy killer whale, will become more common around New Zealand, and potentially outcompeting some of the marine mammals we currently see,” says Hannah.

“Similarly, species that live in cooler subantarctic waters could become sparser around New Zealand as they move south.”

This review shows changes to the environment won’t be felt equally in all parts of New Zealand.

Department of Conservation: The Papa Atawbai, 16 September 2022. Press release.

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Ocean acidification assessment

This report summarises data and analysis methods for ocean acidification data from the Munida Time Series over the period 1998-­2020 and the New Zealand Ocean Acidification Observing Network over the period 2015-­21. Analysis of the trends and variability is also provided along with discussion on the implications of this for the New Zealand marine environment.

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New edition of the “OA-ICC Highlights”, March – July 2022

The new edition of the “OA-ICC Highlights”, our newsletter, summarizes the project’s main activities and achievements over the period March – July 2022. This newsletter features a training for early career scientists, OA-ICC activities at the UN Ocean Conference, the upcoming 5th Annual Symposium on the Ocean in a High CO2 World, and two new OA-ICC publications, including a policy brief and protocol on measuring pHT. Previous editions can be viewed here.

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OA-ICC publishes new policy briefing based on latest IPCC reports

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s OA-ICC (Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre) published a new resource today, titled “Ocean Acidification: The Evidence is Clear. The Time for Action is Now.” This policy briefing highlights the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group I, II, and III reports and details policy actions that can be enacted now.

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Ocean acidification in the Arctic: scientific and governance responses


  1. Noting the early response of Arctic environments to global environmental change, this Fact Sheet outlines high rates of ocean acidification experienced in Arctic waters and resulting threats posed to Arctic communities and ecosystems.
  2. The Arctic remains at the forefront of ocean acidification research and governance. In addition to nation actions, the Arctic Council and its working groups engage in ongoing scientific research and governance initiatives addressing ocean acidification throughout the region. The Arctic Council additionally promotes the integration of Indigenous knowledge in research and governance, which may further advance understandings of ocean acidification and other marine stressors.
  3. While scientific and governance attention towards ocean acidification has increased in the Arctic, the issue of ocean acidification remains largely peripheral to global discussions of environmental change. It has therefore been argued that more explicit and specific efforts are need to effectively address ocean acidification, both globally and within the disproportionately vulnerable Arctic environment.
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Ocean and climate synergies – from ocean warming to rising sea levels

This working paper compiles major impacts of climate change on the ocean, focusing on ocean warming, rising sea levels and ocean acidification. It compiles the reports and projections about ocean and climate in the Asia-Pacific region, emphasizing on extreme weather events, heatwave, coral bleaching, fish migration, degradation of the marine ecosystems, and biodiversity. It also provides sea-level calculations based on satellite data and statistical tools with Asia and Pacific regional examples.

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State of the ocean report 2022: pilot edition

This pilot edition of the State of the Ocean Report (StOR) was proposed and developed to demonstrate the feasibility of keeping the world up to date on the current state of the ocean. Building on examples from IOC-led or joint initiatives, the report is structured around the initial Challenges of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, 2021–2030.

The StOR reveals a lack of reliable benchmarks in many aspects of ocean knowledge. Most sections in the report tend to be descriptive and qualitative, consistent with the recent seminal Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Assessment (IPBES, 2019) that stated: ‘human actions threaten more species with global extinction now than ever before’. The IPBES further elaborates: ‘marine ecosystems, from coastal to deep sea, now show the influence of human actions, with coastal marine ecosystems showing both large historical losses of extent and condition as well as rapid ongoing declines (established but incomplete)’. Indeed, a key conclusion from the pilot StOR is that ocean knowledge is generally able to identify (‘establish’) issues but falls short of these being comprehensive and, hence, actionable (‘incomplete’) – ‘one cannot manage what one cannot measure’.

There is, therefore, an urgent need for a quantitative description of the state of the ocean, with established benchmarks and the capacity to report changes. The overall aim remains – to produce (probably annually) a brief, accessible, one-stop overview of the current state of the ocean, and to mobilize global society to act towards ‘the ocean we need for the future we want’ as a contribution to sustainable development, and in particular to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14. To achieve this, the StOR must be more encompassing. So, for subsequent editions, the IOC will invite contributions from UN agencies and professional organizations, turning the StOR into a pan-UN publication.

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The United Nations Ocean Conference, 27 June -1 July 2022, Lisbon, Portugal, briefing

Pollution, ecosystem decline, climate impacts and overfishing threaten the health of the world’s ocean. The 2022 Ocean Conference provides an opportunity to strengthen synergies among stakeholders to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14, ‘Life Below Water’. The targets set under SDG 14 have largely not been achieved on an international level. Marine pollution remains a major issue, while increasing deoxygenation and acidification is putting marine species and coastal communities alike in danger. Existing and emerging economic activities (such as shipping and seabed mining) are competing for the use of marine space and are threatening ecosystems and biodiversity. Fish stocks continue to be overexploited. The economies of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and many Least Developing States (LDS) depend on the health the ocean.

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Ocean and climate synergies: ocean warming and sea-level rise recommendations


This policy brief provides an overview of the major impacts of climate change on the ocean in the Asia-Pacific region, focusing on ocean warming, sea-level rise and acidification. The policy brief brings together recommendations for better policymaking in ocean and climate synergies for sustainable development.

Policy pointers

  • Urge all member States to step up national efforts to join international efforts to restore the environment. Better adaptation and mitigation efforts can be aided by increased regional collaboration through treaties and conventions.
  • Invest in research and development to plan different strategies to adapt to sea-level rise, fish migration and extreme weather events. For instance, investing in blue carbon.
  • Conduct assessments on sea-level rise, especially in low-lying coastal zones and small island developing states (SIDS), to prepare evacuation plans and strategies to prevent international migration and internal displacement.
  • Increase the adaptive capacity of fisherfolks through early warning systems and satellite technologies.
  • Encourage partnerships between the government, the private sector, and all stakeholders to respond to climate change impacts.
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New edition of the “OA-ICC Highlights”, September 2021-February 2022

The new edition of the “OA-ICC Highlights”, our newsletter, summarizes the project’s main activities and achievements over the period September 2021-February 2022. This newsletter highlights Marine Science during Covid-19, a virtual annual meeting with the SOLAS-IMBeR Ocean Acidification (SIOA) Working Group to discuss OA-ICC activities, the participation of OA-ICC and partners in COP26 and the release of a policy brief from OA-Africa and OA-ICC. Previous editions can be viewed here.

OA-ICC, 30 March 2022. Article.

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Policy brief: Deep ocean climate intervention impacts – ocean alkalinity enhancement

The Concept:

The ocean contains 50 times as much carbon as the atmosphere and acts as a natural thermostat. Based on natural weathering that occurs on geological time scales, ocean alkalinity enhancement is intended to speed the process of removing CO2 from the atmosphere and reducing ocean acidification by increasing seawater alkalinity, the capacity of a solution to neutralize acid. This approach transforms CO2 into bicarbonate (HCO3-), carbonate (CO32-) and to a much smaller extent hydroxide (OH-) anions. The former are charge balanced by cations other than H+ (GESAMP, 2019), increasing pH and causing more drawdown of CO2 from the atmosphere (Gagern et al., 2019; Fig. 2; NASEM, 2021; Fig. 1). Ocean alkalinity enhancement aims to increase the alkalinity of the oceans by either:

  • adding calcium carbonate (CaCO3) to the ocean from limestone rocks (Renforth and Henderson, 2017); calcium silicates (Ca₂O₄Si) from rocks, construction waste or desalination waste, slaked lime (calcium hydroxide Ca(OH)2; e.g., Caserini et al., 2021; Butenschön et al., 2021) as well as magnesium hydroxide (Mg(OH)2)) (Ocean Visions Road Map – or
  • using electrochemistry – technologies for carbon dioxide removal from seawater, sometimes called “direct ocean capture” (House et al., 2007; Rau, 2008; Rau et al., 2013; Lu et al., 2015; La Plante et al., 2021). These techniques capture and remove dissolved inorganic carbon from seawater (either as CO2 gas or as calcium carbonate), and/or produce a CO2-reactive chemical base, e.g., sodium hydroxide (NaOH), that can be distributed in the surface ocean to ultimately consume atmospheric CO2 and convert it to long-lived, dissolved, alkaline bicarbonate (Ocean Visions Road Map –

Alkalinity enhancement approaches will likely start in coastal areas more affected with ocean acidification, and will capture and store carbon dioxide predominantly in the form of bicarbonate. This will result in increases in pH and alkalinity as well as the aragonite saturation state.

Fig. 1. Approach and impact of ocean alkalinity addition. From NASEM, 2021

Key Points

  • Using silicate or carbonate minerals to achieve gigatonne scale CO2 removal would require very large quantities of these materials to be mined, crushed and distributed across the ocean.
  • While mineral-induced changes in the form and flux of surface production might be reflected at the deep-sea floor, effects on the deep sea would mainly be in the long-term due to the ocean over turning circulation unless materials were directly placed in the deep sea. However, deep sea biota that have near-surface-dwelling larval stages could be adversely affected.
  • The environmental effects of electrochemical alkalinization techniques on the deep sea is unclear except where acid material would be discharged directly into the deep sea. This could result in potential lethal and sub-lethal effects on organisms close to the discharge zone.
  • Deposition of alkaline material into the ocean could be governed by the London Protocol.


DOSI, 15 March 2022. Policy brief.

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The physical ocean – current issue

To kick off the new year, we are exploring the world of Oceanography. In this Spring issue, the Physical Ocean, we uncover new insights into how changes to the ocean’s physical and chemical properties impact marine life and the planet. Discover new ‘wild card’ solutions, such as ocean-based carbon dioxide removal technology, and why we need to change how we conduct ocean science. We also examine the challenges humankind faces monitoring the most physically and chemically active environment on Earth – the ocean’s surface.

Current Issue


  • Why are some stony coral species better at surviving ocean acidification? (page 24)
  • Championing the issue of ocean acidification (page 27)
  • Compact, flexible and easy-to-use sensor technology for ocean measurements of pH and oxygen (page 30)
  • Equipping scientists and communities (page 32)
  • Impacts of ocean carbon dioxide removal on ocean acidification monitoring (page 33)
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Contributions of regional seas conventions and action plans to a healthy ocean

Cover page

The report, Contributions of Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans to a Healthy Ocean, draws on a series of case studies that examine the cumulative impact of these conventions and policies over the past 45 years. Through a robust body of evidence, the UN-led Regional Seas Programme convenes and coordinates countries and institutions, and undertakes ecosystem-based planning and management to progress towards a healthy ocean and healthy people.

The Regional Seas Programme aims to bring all relevant stakeholders together to address the accelerating degradation of the world’s oceans and coastal areas through a “shared seas” approach; since its establishment in 1974, 146 countries have joined 18 Regional Seas. Through cultivating joint scientific research, policy development, and implementation, this network of regional policies has become one of the cornerstones of the protection, conservation, and restoration of marine and coastal environments. 

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