Geography of stress: Impacts of ocean acidification along the California Coast

Project Number
Project Date Range
Funding Agency
California Ocean Protection Council (OPC)
Focus Area(s)
Healthy Coastal Ecosystems

Increases in atmospheric CO2 concentrations are fundamentally changing the chemistry of the ocean. As a consequence of this process, the pH of the world’s surface ocean has decreased by 0.1 pH units and is predicted to decline by as much as 0.3–0.4 pH units over the next century.

This project aims to understand ecosystem and social vulnerability associated with ocean acidification on the California coast, with an integrated study of human communities, oceanographic variability, and thresholds for key species. The study will synthesize several oceanographic and ecological datasets on the effects of ocean acidification and other stressors for harvested shellfish and key ecological species within California. The project team will merge these syntheses with new social science data collected to understand factors that influence adaptive capacity in at-risk communities. This work is a collaborative effort by scientists from several disciplines, and has been informed by guidance from stakeholders and managers.

Although California is at the forefront of science-based policy solutions, long-term planning will be required to prepare for the impacts of these perturbations to ocean chemistry. Thus, there is a critical need for California to have an integrated, transdisciplinary analysis vulnerability to ocean acidification. Understanding intertwined natural and social vulnerability requires analyses that are conducted in collaboration with decision makers, local communities, businesses, and stakeholders.

Principal Investigators
Tessa Hill
University of California, Davis
Co-principal Investigators
profile photo of Brian Gaylord Brian Gaylord
Bodega Marine Laboratory
Eric Sanford
Bodega Marine Laboratory
Kristy Kroeker
University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC)