You are here

Climate change

A primary focus of our research is to understand how the CCLME (California Current Large Marine Ecosystem) is responding to climate change, and to forecast changes that might be expected in the future. Two major challenges to the structure and functioning of marine ecosystems are the spread of hypoxia and increases in ocean acidification. Both have the potential to cause dramatic alterations in marine systems, particularly in coastal regions. PISCO-OSU research uncovered the sudden onset of inner shelf hypoxia in 2002, and recurrence of hypoxia has occurred annually since. Ocean acidification, resulting from absorption of CO2 by the ocean, represents a major challenge to all marine organisms that incorporate calcium carbonate into their bodies. Recent surveys have revealed that the coasts of Oregon and northern California are the epicenter of acidic coastal waters, with pH readings in the inner shelf that are already at levels not expected in the ocean in general until 2050. The Climate Change Team works in close collaboration with the Mooring and Onshore teams to understand (1) the oceanographic and biogeochemical processes underlying hypoxia, (2) the ecological consequences of hypoxia, (3) the pattern and variation of ocean acidification in the inner shelf, and (4) how biological systems will respond to increasing acidification of coastal waters. Ocean acidification projects are carried out in collaboration with colleagues at other PISCO campuses, UC Davis’ Bodega Marine Laboratory, and the University of South Carolina.