The oceans absorb about half of all human emissions of carbon dioxide. That extra carbon makes the water more acidic and interferes with the ability of clams, mussels, and oysters to build strong shells.
For help keeping the fishery productive, researchers are turning to an unexpected ally: a fast-growing type of seaweed called kelp.
Kelp absorbs carbon during photosynthesis. So Jan Newton of the University of Washington says scientists believe that growing and then removing kelp before it decays may take enough carbon out of the water to provide a better environment for shellfish.
To test the approach, scientists began planting floating beds of kelp offshore this past spring. And over the next two years, Newton and her colleagues will monitor CO2 levels in the surrounding waters.