Study launched to optimize kelp yields, explore approach to combatting ocean acidification

Posted February 2, 2018

A group of researchers, including SCCWRP, has launched a study to identify areas in the San Pedro Basin that are ideal for cultivating kelp, as well as the environmental conditions and farm designs that will optimize yields.

The study, launched in January and led by the University of California, Irvine, involves developing a suite of models that will simulate key physical, biogeochemical and kelp growth dynamics.

Through the study, researchers also will examine whether kelp has the potential – through natural photosynthetic processes – to sequester dissolved carbon dioxide in the water column, which could alleviate the corrosive conditions associated with ocean acidification.

Catalina Sea Ranch, a licensed commercial mariculture farm that is growing giant bull kelp in a floating farm in the San Pedro Basin, will be the immediate beneficiary of this optimization study. Catalina Sea Ranch is working to scale up kelp cultivation for a variety of uses, including as a food source. Kelp mariculture already is a thriving industry in Asia.

If kelp also can meaningfully reduce levels of dissolved carbon dioxide in the water column, researchers can use the modeling work to explore how to optimize kelp cultures to combat ocean acidification. Unlike other aquatic plants that sequester carbon dioxide, the kelp is being harvested, which means much of the carbon dioxide it sequesters would be removed permanently from the water column.

More news related to: Climate Change, Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia