Again and again, “communication” was mentioned as one of the strongest needs in ocean acidification (OA) science during the week of the second ocean acidification principal investigators’ (OAPI) meeting this September in Washington, DC. But, as Holly Greening (Tampa Bay Estuary Program) pointed out on the meeting’s last day, the OA community has already generated so much conversation around the science that big results have already materialized in just a decade or two: major multi-year commitments of research funding by numerous federal and private organizations, national and state policies, discussion about OA at international levels, and early integration of OA science with other earth science issues like warming and deoxygenation. But the OA community isn’t stopping there, as proven by recent events in Washington!
Ocean acidification is warming up policy discussions about marine resources.In fact, state agencies and legislatures in the Pacific Northwest and Northeast are considering new laws and regulations to mitigate the effects of climate change on shellfish harvesters and other marine industries.
In August, California and Oregon established the West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Science Panel.This panel was tasked with developing new research and policy proposals to respond to risks from ocean acidification.Those states’ action built on a November 2012 report by the Washington State Blue Ribbon Commission on Ocean Acidification (Commission) that resulted in the creation of a new state panel in Washington to analyze policies to mitigate ocean acidification.1
The most serious, debilitating circumstance affecting the ocean today may be acidification, the changing pH or acid balance in the water column with devastating impacts on the marine food chain, species migration and reproduction. In this episode of World Ocean Radio, host Peter Neill will report on the recently-released 20 Facts About Ocean Acidification.
One of the challenges faced by all researchers when writing a NSF proposal is providing substantive broader impacts beyond the research outcomes themselves. Resisting the expeditious fallbacks of creating a webpage or speaking to community groups, I contemplated developing an ocean acidification exhibit for spectrUM, our on-campus science museum (http://spectrum.umt.edu/). If we can’t bring Montana to the ocean why not bring the ocean to Montana? The spectrUM director (Holly) was receptive to the idea and wrote a strong supporting letter. We subsequently proposed the exhibit within the Broader Impacts section of an Arctic Observing Network (NSF-ARC) proposal, with a budget of $10,000. The proposal was funded and the panel and reviewers specifically mentioned the exhibit as one of the proposal’s strengths.
As climate change warms the world’s oceans, they are becoming more acidic. Researchers in Europe and the US have found the rising acidity is bad news for several species.
The chemistry of the oceans is changing. And it isn’t just the corals and the baby oysters that are unhappy. It makes juvenile rockfish really anxious, and it upsets the digestion of sea urchins.
The pH (a measure of acidity – the lower the pH, the more acid the water) of the planet’s oceans is dropping rapidly, largely because the carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are increasing. Since carbon dioxide dissolves in water to form carbonic acid, the seas are responding to global change.
CO2-induced ocean acidification increases anxiety in Rockfish via alteration of GABAA receptor functioningPublished 5 December 2013 Science Leave a Comment
Tags: biological response, fish, laboratory, performance
The average surface pH of the ocean is dropping at a rapid rate due to the dissolution of anthropogenic CO2, raising concerns for marine life. Additionally, some coastal areas periodically experience upwelling of CO2-enriched water with reduced pH. Previous research has demonstrated ocean acidification (OA)-induced changes in behavioural and sensory systems including olfaction, which is due to altered function of neural gamma-aminobutyric acid type A (GABAA) receptors. Here, we used a camera-based tracking software system to examine whether OA-dependent changes in GABAA receptors affect anxiety in juvenile Californian rockfish (Sebastes diploproa). Anxiety was estimated using behavioural tests that measure light/dark preference (scototaxis) and proximity to an object. After one week in OA conditions projected for the next century in the California shore (1125 ± 100 µatm, pH 7.75), anxiety was significantly increased relative to controls (483 ± 40 µatm CO2, pH 8.1). The GABAA-receptor agonist muscimol, but not the antagonist gabazine, caused a significant increase in anxiety consistent with altered Cl− flux in OA-exposed fish. OA-exposed fish remained more anxious even after 7 days back in control seawater; however, they resumed their normal behaviour by day 12. These results show that OA could severely alter rockfish behaviour; however, this effect is reversible.