The quickly rising levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere are leading to ocean acidification (OA), as the oceans absorb this excess CO2. Global ocean pH has declined by about 0.1 units since pre-industrial times, representing an increase in acidity of about 30 percent. The Mid-Atlantic may be especially vulnerable to acidification in coastal waters, where high nutrient levels and rapid growth of plankton further reduce pH. OA causes organisms to expend more energy to regulate their body chemistry and reduces the availability of calcium carbonate (CaCO3), which corals, clams, oysters, lobsters, and other species require to build and maintain shells and skeletons. As a result, OA could have important effects on numerous culturally and commercially important species in the region.
The Mid-Atlantic Coastal Acidification Network (MACAN) seeks to answer basic questions about the intensity, frequency, and location of acidification events. MACAN seeks to understand the causes of those events, whether from atmospheric sources of carbon, land based pollution, or something else. MACAN also works to educate managers, elected officials, industry representatives, and the public about solutions to reduce those sources of acidification. MACAN can be a starting point to work together towards data driven answers to tough acidification questions.