We convened a working group of the Ocean Protection Council Science Advisory Team to coalesce current knowledge and provide technical guidance for future investment and management.


“Emerging Understanding of Seagrass and Kelp as an Ocean Acidification Management Tool in California”

(January 2018)

Download the report

This report communicates emerging scientific understanding of the ability of seagrass and kelp to ameliorate ocean acidification (OA) in a California-specific context. It provides guidance on next steps for the State as it considers future nature-based actions to reduce the negative impacts of OA in California and beyond.


California is exploring local and regional management strategies to address ocean acidification (OA). In early 2016, the West Coast OA and Hypoxia Science Panel recommended that states advance approaches that remove CO2 from seawater, including making use of photosynthesizing plants in coastal environments. In addition, recent legislation in California (Senate Bill No. 1363, Monning, 2016) calls for scientific approaches to protect and restore eelgrass beds as a critical strategy in enhancing California’s ability to withstand OA.

Coastal and estuarine plants, or submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV), have the potential to uptake carbon and modify pH within their canopy and surrounding waters. These habitats may potentially provide natural OA refugia to surrounding species, as well as many additional ecosystem services (carbon sequestration, essential fish habitat, shoreline buffering, water quality, biodiversity, etc.). On the West Coast, two dominant SAV habitats, seagrasses and kelps, show promise in their capacity to ameliorate OA on local scales, and are under active investigation in coastal regions of California, Oregon, and Washington.

As California considers nature-based adaptation strategies, the State is challenged with identifying when, where, and conditions under which SAV restoration and protection can most successfully be applied to ameliorate OA.



Project timeline: January 2017 – January 2018

To assist the State with synthesizing knowledge on the West Coast and prioritizing next steps for California, the Ocean Science Trust will convene a working group of the Ocean Protection Council Science Advisory Team (OPC-SAT).

The working group will provide guidance on:

  • Current approaches to evaluate and quantify amelioration potential
  • Scaling up existing demonstration projects
  • Existing efforts and their ability to inform management and policy in California
  • Understanding the impacts of future climate stressors on the amelioration potential of SAV


Karina Nielsen (co-chair)
San Francisco State University, OPC-SAT co-chair

Jay Stachowicz (co-chair)
University of California Davis, OPC-SAT member

Katharyn Boyer
San Francisco State University

Matthew Bracken
University of California, Irvine

Francis Chan
Oregon State University, former West Coast OAH Panelist

Francisco Chavez
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, OPC-SAT member

Kevin Hovel
San Diego State University

Kerry Nickols
California State University, Northridge

Jennifer Ruesink
University of Washington

Joe Tyburczy
California Sea Grant Extension
< Back