In 2009, Congress passed the Federal Ocean Acidification Research And Monitoring (FOARAM) Act (as part of PL 111-11), which directed an Interagency Working Group on Ocean Acidification (IWGOA) to design a National Ocean Acidification Program (referred to as the Program in this report) and develop a Strategic Plan for Federal Research and Monitoring of Ocean Acidification. The FOARAM Act also directs NOAA to request the National Research Council (NRC) convene a committee to review the IWGOA Strategic Plan. In particular, the NRC committee was asked to review the IWGOA Strategic Plan for federal research and monitoring on ocean acidification based on the program elements described in the FOARAM Act of 2009 and the advice provided to the IWGOA through the 2010 NRC report Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean. Specifically, the review committee was asked to consider the following elements: goals and objectives; metrics for evaluation; mechanisms for coordination, integration, and evaluation; means to transition research and observational elements to operational status; coordination with existing and developing national and international programs; and community input and external review (for full statement of task see Appendix A).


The Strategic Plan presents a comprehensive framework for improving our understanding of ocean acidification, broadly defined to span the physical, chemical, biological, and socioeconomic sciences. It does an excellent job of covering the breadth of current understanding of ocean acidification and the range of research that will be required to advance a broadly focused and effective National Ocean Acidification Program. Because the committee’s charge was to conduct a critical analysis of the Strategic Plan, the comments below focus on aspects of the Plan that could be improved, rather than on the Plan’s many strengths.

The Strategic Plan follows the seven Themes laid out in the FOARAM Act. While these themes encapsulate the effort required to advance the understanding of ocean acidification, the Strategic Plan currently treats the themes largely as independent sets of activities without elaborating on how coordination among the agencies and integration of themes will be accomplished. While the committee recognizes that this is a strategic document and not an implementation plan, the Plan lacks sufficient detail on how objectives and goals will be reached and how the strategy will move toward implementation. The following modifications would remedy these shortcomings in the Strategic Plan:

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