Archive for August, 2006

Oceanography: Sick seas

The rising level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is making the world’s oceans more acidic. Jacqueline Ruttimann reports on the potentially catastrophic effect this could have on marine creatures.

Ruttimann, 2006. Sick seas. Nature 442: 978-980. Article

IGBP-SCOR Fast Track Initiative “Ocean Acidification”

This Fast Track Initiative (FTI) is a joint activity of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) and the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR). It has been set up as a cross-disciplinary activity to bring together experts on past and present biogeochemical changes in order to address the following overarching question: What can we learn from past changes in the Earth system to better understand the consequences of ongoing ocean acidification?”

Contributing disciplines include marine biology, marine geochemistry, paleoceanography, biogeochemistry, and others, involving scientists from many projects within IGBP and SCOR.

The first workshop will take place on 28-30 September 2006. Web site:

Submarine venting of liquid carbon dioxide on a Mariana Arc volcano

Lupton, J., et al. (2006), Submarine venting of liquid carbon dioxide on a Mariana Arc volcano, Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst., 7, Q08007, doi:10.1029/2005GC001152.


Although CO2 is generally the most abundant dissolved gas found in submarine hydrothermal fluids, it is rarely found in the form of CO2 liquid. Here we report the discovery of an unusual CO2-rich hydrothermal system at 1600-m depth near the summit of NW Eifuku, a small submarine volcano in the northern Mariana Arc. The site, named Champagne, was found to be discharging two distinct fluids from the same vent field: a 103°C gas-rich hydrothermal fluid and cold (<4°C) droplets composed mainly of liquid CO2. The hot vent fluid contained up to 2.7 moles/kg CO2, the highest ever reported for submarine hydrothermal fluids. The liquid droplets were composed of ∼98% CO2, ∼1% H2S, with only trace amounts of CH4 and H2. Surveys of the overlying water column plumes indicated that the vent fluid and buoyant CO2 droplets ascended <200 m before dispersing into the ocean. Submarine venting of liquid CO2 has been previously observed at only one other locality, in the Okinawa Trough back-arc basin (Sakai et al., 1990a), a geologic setting much different from NW Eifuku, which is a young arc volcano. The discovery of such a high CO2 flux at the Champagne site, estimated to be about 0.1% of the global MOR carbon flux, suggests that submarine arc volcanoes may play a larger role in oceanic carbon cycling than previously realized. The Champagne field may also prove to be a valuable natural laboratory for studying the effects of high CO2 concentrations on marine ecosystems.

A Chemical Imbalance

Growing seawater acidity threatens to wipe out coral, fish and other crucial species worldwide.

Continue reading ‘A Chemical Imbalance’

Permanent carbon dioxide storage in deep-sea sediments

Kurt Zenz House, Daniel P. Schrag, Charles F. Harvey, and Klaus S. Lackner, 2006. Permanent carbon dioxide storage in deep-sea sediments. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 103(33): 12291-12295.

Continue reading ‘Permanent carbon dioxide storage in deep-sea sediments’

Oceans in Crisis But U.S. Slow to Act

The federal government is failing to respond to alarming evidence that the oceans are in crisis, ocean experts told a Senate panel last week. Two years after a federal commission called on the Bush administration and Congress to aggressively overhaul the nation’s ocean policy, key recommendations have not been implemented and critical ocean research efforts face deep funding cuts.

Continue reading ‘Oceans in Crisis But U.S. Slow to Act’

Tropical Fish Trade Threatens to Devastate Reefs

Leading marine biologists have called for a crackdown on the trade in tropical fish, which is threatening to destroy the world’s already endangered coral reefs.

Continue reading ‘Tropical Fish Trade Threatens to Devastate Reefs’

Okay Coral

Weeks after the National Science Foundation released a report about the connection between increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide and the acidity of the oceans, doomsayers continue to prophesy that global warming will kill the coral reefs off our picturesque Florida coast.

Continue reading ‘Okay Coral’

Ocean acidification: the other CO2 problem

As the oceans soak up ever more carbon dioxide, coral reefs could perish along with innumerable other sea creatures. New Scientist …

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification: the other CO2 problem’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book