Climate Action for the Ocean

Climate change and ocean acidification are affecting ocean health—and our own survival—in profound ways.

Fortunately, the ocean is resilient and can recover if we take action.

Excess Carbon Dioxide is Changing the Ocean

Warming Waters

When people burn fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas, we release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. That carbon dioxide, along with other heat-trapping gases, acts like a blanket that keeps getting thicker around the Earth. The heat that would otherwise be radiated out into space causes the temperature to rise.

The ocean absorbs 80-90 percent of this extra heat. As the ocean's surface warms, it sets off a cascade of impacts including sea-level rise, stronger storms, shrinking sea ice and coral bleaching. Some marine species are moving toward the poles as the ocean warms. Others are less able to adapt to the changes.

A More Acidic Ocean

Our carbon dioxide emissions are affecting the ocean in another major way—and it's about chemistry. Ocean acidification happens when the ocean absorbs some of the carbon pollution we've pumped into the air, triggering a chemical reaction that lowers the ocean's pH. The ocean is already 30 percent more acidic than it was before people started burning fossil fuels.

Acidic seawater makes it tougher for shelled marine animals to survive. The fragile shells of tiny sea snails called pteropods, for example, are thinning as the pH level drops. These impacts ripple through the marine food web, affecting many of our favorite seafood species.

What You Can Do

Climate action means creating a better world for people and the planet.

Working together, we can reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, slow global warming and ocean acidification, and adapt to the impacts already in motion.

Raise your voice

Elect leaders who commit to take climate action. Tell candidates for public office—from your city council to United States president—that climate change is important to you. They will listen.

Urge elected officials to take action on climate change. Call, write or tweet your representatives. Ask them to reduce carbon emissions, protect marine habitats, and help us adapt to the changes in motion.

Encourage climate-friendly practices at work and in your community. Start a "green team" at work. Spark a conversation about climate action on social media. Invest in a community solar garden. Recommend a book on climate change at book club. Think creatively—the possibilities are endless!

Join the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Overfishing, pollution and climate change have put the ocean in a precarious position, endangering not just marine life but all life on Earth. But, together, we can turn the tide if we act now. Your support will help us creative positive change for the ocean and the animals that call it home—not just today, but for generations to come.

Donate today

Reduce your carbon footprint

Choose alternative transportation. Walk, bike, carpool or take public transportation if possible. When buying a car, consider a fuel-efficient or electric vehicle.

Use less fossil fuel energy at home. There are lots of ways, from choosing energy-efficient appliances to turning off lights and putting on a sweater before you turn up the heat. Ask your power company to provide more electricity from renewable resources.

Watch what you eat. No, not for that reason. Livestock production contributes disproportionately to the emissions that cause climate change. Increase the amount of fruits and vegetables in your diet.

Join the Monterey Bay Aquarium

When you visit, become a member or donate, you support our work to help curb global warming and ocean acidification. Together, we can make positive changes for the ocean and the animals that call it home—not just today, but for generations to come.

Donate today

What We're Doing

Here at Monterey Bay Aquarium, we're walking the talk.

  • At Monterey Bay Aquarium, we’re continually working to reduce our own carbon footprint by upgrading our infrastructure and making changes to our business practices. Read more about actions we're taking to meet or exceed the ambitious emissions targets set by the Paris Agreement at the We Are Still In website.
  • We created an alternative transportation program to encourage our staff to carpool, take the bus, bike or walk to work at least three days a week.
  • We communicate with our visitors through exhibits, programs, and volunteer guides about the ocean impacts of climate change and ocean acidification, and what they can do to help solve the problem.
  • We spark conversations about climate change and the ocean with our 3 million social media followers on Twitter, Wordpress, Tumblr, Facebook and other channels.
  • Our Seafood Watch program is working to better understand emissions of CO2 and other heat-trapping gases in the production of wild and farmed seafood.
  • We engage with elected officials, advocating for science-based policy action to address climate change and ocean acidification.

Learn More at Monterey Bay Aquarium's Future of the Ocean blog