Ocean Acidification and Oysters Lab

created by Hilary Palevsky, UW Oceanography


The Ocean Acidification and Oysters Lab is a hands-on learning activity where students analyze real-world data to explain how ocean acidification is affecting the oyster aquaculture industry in the Pacific Northwest. This module is focused on the question: What is controlling the ability to successfully raise oyster larvae at the Whiskey Creek hatchery in Netarts bay, Oregon? Originally designed for the UW in the High School Climate Science Course.

Powerpoint Presentation includes background information on:

  1. Carbon emissions
  2. pH
  3. Ocean carbonate chemistry

Focus Questions

  1.  How does seawater chemistry-both pH and aragonite saturation state-affect larval oyster growth?
  2. How do local physical and biological processes control the short-term variability of seawater chemistry in the Pacific Northwest?
  3. How will seawater chemistry change over the 21st century and how will this affect pacific Northwest oyster growers?

Learning Goals

Students will be able to…

  1. Explain how increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is changing ocean chemistry.
  2. Explain how and why organisms with calcium carbonate shells are affected by ocean acidification.
  3. Connect ocean acidification with its impacts on the local Pacific Northwest economy through the oyster aquaculture industry.
  4. Identify and explain the dominant processes controlling short-term variability and long-term changes in coastal Pacific Northwest ocean chemistry.
  5. Calculate changes in ocean acidity and predict how these changes will affect oyster aquaculture.


Ocean Acidification Module
Student Handout and Excel Files
Premodule and Postmodule Surveys

Answer keys are available upon request. Email uwpcc@uw.edu.

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