The United States National Climate Assessment—Alaska Technical Regional Report

The Alaskan landscape is changing, both in terms of effects of human activities as a consequence of increased population, social and economic development and their effects on the local and broad landscape; and those effects that accompany naturally occurring hazards such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and tsunamis. Some of the most prevalent changes, however, are those resulting from a changing climate, with both near term and potential upcoming effects expected to continue into the future.

A new phenomenon that was not reported in previous assessments is ocean acidification. Uptake of carbon dioxide (CO2) by oceans has a significant effect on marine biogeochemistry by reducing seawater pH. Ocean acidification is of particular concern in Alaska, because cold sea water absorbs CO2 more rapidly than warm water, and a decrease in sea ice extent has allowed increased sea surface exposure and more uptake of CO2 into these northern waters. Ocean acidification will likely affect the ability of organisms to produce and maintain shell material, such as aragonite or calcite (calcium carbonate minerals structured from carbonate ions), required by many shelled organism, from mollusks to corals to microscopic organisms at the base of the food chain. Direct biological effects in Alaska further along the food chain have yet to be studied and may vary among organisms.

The report contains a section on ocean acidification.

Markon C. J., Trainor S. F. & Chapin F. S., III, eds., 2012, The United States National Climate Assessment— Alaska Technical Regional Report: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1379, 148 p. Report.

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