may be vulnerable to, or may benefit from, acidification. Calcifying mollusks and crustaceans, which are important species for both aquaculture and wild harvest fisheries, and fish habitats essential for many marine species (e.g., oyster reefs, seagrass beds), are other examples. As research continues, many other sectors, communities, and decision makers that could feel an impact from acidification are likely to be identified. A better understanding of these potential biological and socioeconomic effects than we have today, as well as an ability to forecast changes, is needed for fishery managers, industry, and human communities to plan and adapt.
CONCLUSION: The chemistry of the ocean is changing at an unprecedented rate and magnitude due to anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions; the rate of change exceeds any known to have occurred for at least the past hundreds of thousands of years. Unless anthropogenic CO2 emissions are substantially curbed, or atmospheric CO2 is controlled by some other means, the average pH of the ocean will continue to fall. Ocean acidification has demonstrated impacts on many marine organisms. While the ultimate consequences are still unknown, there is a risk of ecosystem changes that threaten coral reefs, fisheries, protected species, and other natural resources of value to society.
The U.S. federal government has shown a growing awareness of and response to concerns about the impacts of ocean acidification, and has taken a number of steps to begin to address the long-term implications of ocean acidification. Currently, there is no formal national program on ocean acidification; however, several federal agencies have shifted (or plan to shift) funds to ocean acidification activities (Ocean Carbon and Biogeochemistry Program, 2009a). The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) began studying the impacts of anthropogenic CO2 on the marine carbonate system in the North Pacific in the 1980s (Feely and Chen, 1982; Feely et al., 1984, 1988) and continues to expand its research and observational efforts (e.g., Feely et al., 2008; Gledhill et al., 2008; Meseck et al., 2007). NOAA, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have also provided extramural support for workshops, planning efforts, facilities, and research (Congressional Research Service (U.S. CRS), 2009; National Science Foundation, 2009; Paula Bontempi, NASA, personal communication). In the 110th and 111th sessions, the U.S. Congress demonstrated concern over the problem of ocean acidification, holding multiple hearings and passing the Federal Ocean Acidification Research And Monitoring (FOARAM) Act of 2009 (Congressional Research Service (U.S. CRS), 2009; P.L. 111-11). The FOARAM Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-11) calls for an interagency working group (IWG) under the Joint Subcommittee on