International, Interdisciplinary, Long-term Monitoring of the Ecological Impacts of Ocean Acidification on Coral Reefs Across the Central and Western Pacific

Chair: Libby Jewett

Russel E Brainard (1)*, Thomas Oliver (1,2), Anne Cohen (3), Nichole Price (4), Richard Feely (5), Simone Alin (5), Ian Enochs (6), Libby Jewett (7), Somkiat Khokiattiwong (8), Wenxi Zhu (9), Tommy Moore (10), Malou McGlone (11), Zulfigar Yasin (12), Andrew Dickson (13), Christopher Meyer (14), Robert Toonen (15)

1 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, Honolulu, Hawaii, 96818, USA
2 University of Hawaii Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, Honolulu, Hawaii, 96818, USA
3 Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Woods Hole, Massachusetts, 02543, USA
4 Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, East Boothday, Maine, 04544, USA
5 NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, Seattle, Washington, 98115, USA
6 NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, Miami, Florida, 33149, USA
7 NOAA Ocean Acidification Program, Silver Spring, Maryland, 20910, USA
8 Phuket Marine Biological Center, Phuket, 83000, Thailand
9 U.N. Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission-Western Pacific Subregion (IOC-WESTPAC), Bangkok, 10210, Thailand
10 Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environmental Programme (SPREP), Apia, Samoa
11 Marine Science Institute, University of the Philippines, Quezon City, 1101, Philippines
12 Institute of Oceanography and Environment, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu, Terengganu, 21030, Malaysia
13 Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, California, 92037, USA
14 National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, 20560, USA
15 Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, University of Hawaii, Kaneohe, Hawaii, 96744, USA

Ocean acidification is predicted to have significant impacts on coral reefs and the associated ecosystem services they provide to human societies over this century. To inform, validate, and improve laboratory experiments and predictive modelling efforts, scientists and managers from NOAA, IOC-WESTPAC, SPREP, and the countries of the western and central Pacific Ocean are collaborating to establish an integrated and interdisciplinary observing network to assess spatial patterns and monitor long-term temporal trends of the ecological impacts of ocean acidification on coral reef ecosystems across gradients of biogeography, oceanography, and anthropogenic stressors.

Using standardized and comparable approaches and methods, these collaborative efforts are beginning to systematically monitor: seawater carbonate chemistry using water sampling and moored instruments, benthic community structure and abundance using biological surveys and photoquadrats, indices of crytobiota diversity using autonomous reef monitoring structures, net accretion and calcification rates using calcification accretion units and coral cores, and bioerosion rates.

NOAA has established baseline observations and initiated long-term monitoring at 23 U.S.-affiliated sites in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Marianas, Jarvis, Howland, and Baker Islands, and Palmyra, Kingman, Wake, and Johnston Atolls, and 2 sites in the Coral Triangle (Philippines and Timor Leste). Following two successful IOC-WESTPAC workshops, 22 additional sites are being initiated in Bangladesh (1), Cambodia (1), China (1), Indonesia (3), Malaysia (5), Philippines (7), Thailand (3), and Vietnam (1). Following two workshops and with support from New Zealand, SPREP has initiated efforts to identify multiple pilot ocean acidification monitoring sites in the Small Island Developing States of the Pacific Islands adopting similar approaches.

Collectively, these standardized observations of the ecological responses to ocean acidification will inform resource managers and policymakers in their efforts to implement effective management and adaptation strategies and serve as a model for the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network (GOA-ON).