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Integrated Coastal Acidification Research

Fisheries and Oceans Canada provided $90,000 via the Partnership Fund for this research focused on coastal acidification. Each year, about one-third of annual carbon dioxide emissions from human activities dissolves in the oceans' surface and reacts with water molecules to produce carbonic acid. As a result, the concentration of carbonic acid has increased by 30 percent since the industrial revolution, a process known as ocean acidification (OA). The most direct effects of OA will be on organisms with shells and skeletons made of calcium carbonate (CaCO3), which dissolves more readily as ocean acidity increases. Impacts on individual organisms have the potential to affect marine food webs, biodiversity, and multi-billion dollar commercial fisheries and shellfish industries.

The Integrated Coastal Acidification Program (I-CAP) involves: field observations of the OA state on Canada's Atlantic and Pacific coasts; laboratory experiments on key and commercially important coastal species to assess their biological responses to future OA conditions; modelling of acidification in coastal zones and assessment of socio-economic impacts. An integrative and interdisciplinary research model will be developed to provide concrete information on the effects of ocean acidification to regional and national policy-makers, fisheries, aquaculture industries and dependent communities. This information could help to develop early warning systems, and assist with impact adaptation and mitigation.

The funds will enable I-CAP to expand field observation sites and survey existing sites more frequently. In 2017, the first national I-CAP workshop discussed results from the first two years of the program and how to improve it going forward—e.g. confirming the protocol for field observation and reporting, identifying additional field sites to survey, and assessing which organisms require further study. An I-CAP website communicates with stakeholders and provides I-CAP member scientists and stakeholders with access to all project data. A report on the national workshop report is being produced for the Marine Environmental Observation Prediction and Response (MEOPAR) Network and shared with Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Project number: MAR2016.11
Year: 2016
Partner: Simon Fraser University
Lead: Dr. Karen Kohfeld
Ecoregion: National/All

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