But one piece of good news, according to Feely, is the rapid development of tools to monitor acidification.
They include a new instrument, developed by researchers at the University of South Florida, that can be placed on commercial vessels to collect measurements of pH and other indicators of ocean carbon levels as the ships traverse the seas.
A new West Coast ocean acidification observing system is also planned, Feely said, with several observation sites manned by different research institutions, such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.
Ed Miles, a professor of marine studies and public affairs at the University of Washington, said the prospect of a coordinated federal ocean acidification research program is welcome news, especially given the conditions Feely observed off the California coast in 2008.
"We had better invest in expanding our observing capacity, because what happened in the open and coastal ocean was a major surprise," Miles said. "We can't afford to be taken by surprise of that sort."