Long-term measurements (i.e. months) of in situ pH have not previously been reported from the Arctic; this study shows fluctuations between pH 7.5 and 8.3 during the spring bloom 2012 in a coastal area of Disko Bay, West Greenland. The effect of acidification on phytoplankton from this area was studied at both the community and species level in experimental pH treatments within (pH 8.0, 7.7 and 7.4) and outside (pH 7.1) in situ pH. The growth rate of the phytoplankton community decreased during the experimental acidification from 0.50 ± 0.01 d-1 (SD) at pH 8.0 to 0.22 ± 0.01 d-1 at pH 7.1. Nevertheless, the response to acidification was species-specific and divided into 4 categories: I, least affected; II, affected only at pH 7.1; III, gradually affected and IV, highly affected. In addition, the colony size and chain length of selected species were affected by the acidification. Our findings show that coastal phytoplankton from Disko Bay is naturally exposed to pH fluctuations exceeding the experimental pH range used in most ocean acidification studies. We emphasize that studies on ocean acidification should include in situ pH before assumptions on the effect of acidification on marine organisms can be made.