Guide to best practices for ocean acidification research and data reporting


Important: download the erratum (PDF; updated 20 July 2011)

Please note that this erratum is for the first edition of the guide.


Please cite this document as:

Riebesell U., Fabry V. J., Hansson L. & Gattuso J.-P. (Eds.), 2010. Guide to best practices for ocean acidification research and data reporting, 260 p. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.

Ocean acidification is an undisputed fact. The ocean presently takes up one-fourth of the carbon CO2 emitted to the atmosphere from human activities. As this CO2 dissolves in the surface ocean, it reacts with seawater to form carbonic acid, increasing ocean acidity and shifting the partitioning of inorganic carbon species towards increased CO2 and dissolved inorganic carbon, and decreased concentration of carbonate ion.

While our understanding of the possible consequences of ocean acidification is still rudimentary, both the scientific community and the society at large are increasingly concerned about the possible risks associated with ocean acidification for marine organisms and ecosystems. As this new and pressing field of marine research gains momentum, many in our community, including representatives of coordinated research projects, international scientific organisations, funding agencies, and scientists in this field felt the need to provide guidelines and standards for ocean acidification research.

To initiate this process, the European Project on Ocean Acidification (EPOCA) and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) jointly invited over 40 leading scientists active in ocean acidification research to a meeting at the Leibniz Institute of Marine Science (IFM-GEOMAR) in Kiel, Germany on 19-21 November 2008. At the meeting, which was sponsored by EPOCA, IOC, the Scientific Council on Oceanic Research (SCOR), the U.S. Ocean Carbon and Biogeochemistry Project (OCB) and the Kiel Excellence Cluster “The Future Ocean”, the basic structure and contents of the guide was agreed upon and an outline was drafted. In the following months, the workshop participants and additional invited experts prepared draft manuscripts for each of the sections, which were subsequently reviewed by independent experts and revised according to their recommendations. Starting 15 May 2009, the guide was made publicly available for an open community review.


We are very grateful to all colleagues who have committed their precious time to the preparation of this guide as section editors, lead and contributing authors, and reviewers. It is envisioned to revisit and possibly revise the guide to accommodate new developments in the field in a few years time.


Ulf Riebesell, Victoria J. Fabry, Lina Hansson and Jean-Pierre Gattuso


Please contact Lina Hansson ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) at the Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre to obtain printed copies of the guide.


Part 1: Seawater carbonate chemistry

Chapter 1 The carbon dioxide system in seawater: equilibrium chemistry and measurements (PDF)

Andrew G. Dickson

Chapter 2 Approaches and tools to manipulate the carbonate chemistry (PDF)

Jean-Pierre Gattuso, Kunshan Gao, Kitack Lee, Björn Rost and Kai G. Schulz


Part 2: Experimental design of perturbation experiments

Chapter 3 Atmospheric CO2 targets for ocean acidification perturbation experiments (PDF)

James P. Barry, Toby Tyrrell, Lina Hansson, Gian-Kasper Plattner and Jean-Pierre Gattuso

Chapter 4 Designing ocean acidification experiments to maximise inference (PDF)

Jon Havenhand, Sam Dupont and Gerry P. Quinn

Chapter 5 Bioassays, batch culture and chemostat experimentation (PDF)

Julie LaRoche, Björn Rost and Anja Engel

Chapter 6 Pelagic mesocosms (PDF)

Ulf Riebesell, Kitack Lee and Jens C. Nejstgaard

Chapter 7 Laboratory experiments and benthic mesocosm studies (PDF)

Steve Widdicombe, Sam Dupont and Mike Thorndyke

Chapter 8 In situ perturbation experiments: natural venting sites, spatial/temporal gradients in ocean pH, manipulative in situ p(CO2) perturbations (PDF)

James P. Barry, Jason M. Hall-Spencer and Toby Tyrell


Part 3:  Measurements of CO2-sensitive processes

Chapter 9 Studies of acid-base status and regulation (PDF)

Hans-Otto Pörtner, Ulf Bickmeyer, Markus Bleich, Christian Bock, Colin Brownlee, Franck Melzner, Basile Michaelidis, Franz Josef Sartoris and Daniela Storch

Chapter 10 Studies of metabolic rate and other characters across life stages (PDF)

Hans-Otto Pörtner, Sam Dupont, Franck Melzner, Daniela Storch and Mike Thorndyke

Chapter 11 Production and export of organic matter (PDF)

Anja Engel, Joana Barcelos e Ramos, Richard Geider, David A. Hutchins, Cindy Lee, Björn Rost, Rüdiger Röttgers and Frede Thingstad

Chapter 12 Direct measurements of calcification rates in planktonic organisms (PDF)

Victoria J. Fabry and William M. Balch

Chapter 13 Measurements of calcification and dissolution of benthic organisms and communities (PDF)

Chris Langdon, Jean-Pierre Gattuso and Andreas Andersson


Part 4: Data reporting and data usage

Chapter 14 Modelling considerations (PDF)

Andreas Oschlies, Jeremy Blackford, Scott C. Doney and Marion Gehlen

Chapter 15 Safeguarding and sharing ocean acidification data (PDF)

Stéphane Pesant, Leslie Alan Hook, Roy Lowry, Gwenaëlle Moncoiffé, Anne-Marin Nisumaa and Benjamin Pfeil


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