Ocean Acidification in Alaska

Pteropod. Pteropod Limacina Helicina. Courtesy of Russ Hopcroft, UAF.

Pteropod. Pteropod Limacina Helicina. Courtesy of Russ Hopcroft, UAF.

Ocean acidification is particularly acute in Alaska and along the North Pacific shelf. Natural upwelling from the deep ocean along this shelf carries nutrient and carbon rich waters to coastal zones. In the Bering Sea, carbon-rich fresh water feeds into an ocean region where low temperatures allow for the maximum retention of carbon. Natural predispositions to a higher acidity make these areas particularly sensitive to global ocean acidification. A recent study by Columbia University shows that the Bering Strait holds the world’s most acidic seawater.

In 2015, AMCC began a new outreach effort aimed at communicating the issue of ocean acidification to residents and visitors in Alaska’s coastal communities. AMCC, along with Cook Inletkeeper, developed an outdoor kiosk that provides key information on ocean acidification. The interactive kiosk allows users to explore the causes of acidification, as well as the current and potential effects on fisheries and ecosystems. Video testimony from experts, fishermen and local leaders provides a voice for groups affected by and studying these vital changes. Finally, there is an opportunity for participants to act on current efforts addressing ocean acidification, and engage with other organizations and leaders.

OA kiosk_kodiak_danielleThe kiosk is now located in Sitka and will remain there throughout the winter of 2016-2017. You’ll find the kiosk at the harbormaster’s office (617 Katlian Street). The kiosk will move to various locations around coastal Alaska to maximize awareness of this important issue. In addition, AMCC will continue to support the diverse ways that our communities can learn about ocean acidification, advocate for solutions and adapt to our changing ecosystems.

In a previous AMCC project from 2012, AMCC’s Working Waterfronts Program Director, Rachel Donkersloot PhD, wrote the report ‘Ocean Acidification & Alaska’s Fisheries: Views and Voices of Alaska’s Fishermen, Marine Industries and Coastal Residents’ as a product of community roundtable discussions on ocean acidification and Alaska fisheries held during the winter of 2011-12 in the fisheries-dependent communities of Homer, Kodiak and Dillingham.

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