Feel-good climate news: are the Channel Islands an "Ocean Acidification Refugia"?
It has been an honor to work with Dr. Lydia Kapsenberg and Liz Weinberg on this new ONMS webstory:
A Safe Haven in a Changing World Can Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary Serve as a Local Refuge Against Ocean Acidification?
To promote this story, check out this "Situation Report" submitted to ONMS weekly:
Northern Channel Islands Ocean Acidification Refugia webstory released by ONMS
Due to their position in the California Current, and their location along the coast of California, the Northern Channel Islands are home to a diverse assemblage of ecologically and economically important species. One of the drivers of this diversity are the strong seasonal upwellings pulses that bring nutrient rich waters to the Santa Barbara Channel. However, upwelled waters are low in pH, and thus expose organisms to more acidic waters. Coupled with ocean acidification, upwelling pulses can synergistically impact marine organisms at multiple trophic levels across food webs. A recent study Dr. Lydia Kapsenberg, former UC Santa Barbara PhD student, showed that the north-facing beaches around the Northern Channel Islands may be unaffected by drops in pH due to upwelling. Because ocean acidification is an ongoing problem, areas that are productive but that might be spared from the impacts of ocean acidification are of critical concern. In effect, the Northern Channel Islands may represent a refugia for organisms that live in areas that are exposed to upwelling pulses. These findings can be used by marine managers for conservation and/or restoration efforts, and to enhance marine protected areas. CINMS Sea Grant fellow Pike Spector worked with Dr. Kapsenberg to share this story with the general public. Link to webstory: https://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/news/feb20/channel-islands-ocean-acidification-refuge.html
Significance: Ocean acidification threatens many commercially and ecologically important organisms. As our understanding of these impacts increases, areas of special concern need to be identified for conservation. Further, ocean acidification, coupled with strong seasonal upwelling pulses, may synergistically impact marine life beyond what has already been studied. Because of their position on the coast, the Northern Channel Islands may serve as an ocean acidification refugia because they are immune to the deleterious drops in pH caused by upwelling.
For more information please contact Pike Spector email@example.com
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Pike Spector is currently a Research Operations Specialist with Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary