Archive for March, 2008



Alarm bells as evidence of slowed coral growth on the GBR emerges

Worrying signs that warmer seawater combined with a possible change in the ocean’s acid balance may be curtailing the growth of an important reef-building coral species have been documented by a research team from AIMS in Townsville.

The paper, published in the journal Global Change Biology*, points to a 21 per cent decline in the rate at which Porites corals in two regions of the northern Great Barrier Reef (GBR) have added to their calcium carbonate skeletons over the past 16 years.

Continue reading ‘Alarm bells as evidence of slowed coral growth on the GBR emerges’

Ocean acidification: double trouble for nature and man (session at EGU 2008, Vienna)

The impacts of “Ocean Acidification” (OA) are probably just as dramatic as those of “Global Warming” and the combination of the two even more so. Despite this threat, has “Ocean Acidification” only recently been put on the research agendas. Contrary to “Global (regional) Warming”, can the change in ocean carbonate chemistry, due to CO2 emissions, be predicted with very high confidence. However, the impact of OA on biota and ecosystems is largely unknown. Therefore, there is a broad scientific consensus that the topic of Ocean Acidification needs serious and immediate attention, and should be addressed at the European level and beyond.

One important lesson learned from decades of “Climate Change” or “Global Warming” research is that the political response largely depends on our ability to estimate possible socio-economic costs (the “Stern report”). It is therefore of high priority to stimulate a discussion at the interface between biological research, economy, social sciences and politics as soon as possible.
The Peace Nobel prize, recently awarded to the IPCC and Al Gore signals that the timing is right and provides momentum to address these interdisciplinary issues. This session will consist of invited speakers addressing the impact of Ocean Acidification from the different angles mentioned above trying to bridge the gap between disciplines.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification: double trouble for nature and man (session at EGU 2008, Vienna)’

Ocean acidification: double trouble for nature and man (session at EGU 2008, Vienna)

The impacts of “Ocean Acidification” (OA) are probably just as dramatic as those of “Global Warming” and the combination of the two even more so. Despite this threat, has “Ocean Acidification” only recently been put on the research agendas. Contrary to “Global (regional) Warming”, can the change in ocean carbonate chemistry, due to CO2 emissions, be predicted with very high confidence. However, the impact of OA on biota and ecosystems is largely unknown. Therefore, there is a broad scientific consensus that the topic of Ocean Acidification needs serious and immediate attention, and should be addressed at the European level and beyond.

One important lesson learned from decades of “Climate Change” or “Global Warming” research is that the political response largely depends on our ability to estimate possible socio-economic costs (the “Stern report”). It is therefore of high priority to stimulate a discussion at the interface between biological research, economy, social sciences and politics as soon as possible.
The Peace Nobel prize, recently awarded to the IPCC and Al Gore signals that the timing is right and provides momentum to address these interdisciplinary issues. This session will consist of invited speakers addressing the impact of Ocean Acidification from the different angles mentioned above trying to bridge the gap between disciplines.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification: double trouble for nature and man (session at EGU 2008, Vienna)’

Reef coral expert fears ocean acidifying

A slowing in the growth of an important reef-building coral in the Great Barrier Reef may point to a disastrous phenomenon that will one day affect all sea creatures, a new report says.

The Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) study examined two regions at the northern end of the reef and found a 21 per cent decline in the rate at which Porites corals, also known as finger corals, had grown in the past 16 years.

Continue reading ‘Reef coral expert fears ocean acidifying’

Ocean acidification may effect photosynthesis in marine algae

MBARI researcher Zbigniew Kolber will present findings on the effects of ocean acidification on photosynthesis in the sea at a press conference during the 2008 Ocean Sciences Meeting March 2 through 7 in Orlando, Florida. Kolber’s lab team grew phytoplankton (microscopic marine plants) under conditions that mimic an acid environment predicted 100-300 years into the future. When the pH (the measure of change in acidity) shifted by more than 0.25 units, key steps in the chemical process of photosynthesis were affected. Under conditions typical of the coastal ocean, acidic shifts greater than 0.5 pH units reduced phytoplankton growth rates by 10-20%. Current estimates indicate that upper ocean pH has already shifted 0.1 units worldwide. Phytoplankton generate roughly half of the oxygen we breathe and are often called the “lungs of the planet.” In addition to Kolber’s talk, other MBARI researchers will offer more than 35 presentations during the meeting.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification may effect photosynthesis in marine algae’

Second Symposium on The Ocean in a High-CO2 World, Monaco, 6-9 October 2008

We are pleased to announce the opening of registration and abstract submissions for the Second Symposium on The Ocean in a High-CO2 World in Monaco on Oct. 6-9, 2008. The symposium Web site can be found at http://www.highco2world-ii.org. Space is limited, so it will be important to register early. Please contact one of us if you have any questions about the event. We look forward to a meeting that will be as interesting and productive as the first symposium in 2004!

Best regards,

Jim Orr (IAEA), Chair of Planning Committee (J.Orr@iaea.org)
Ed Urban (SCOR) (ed.urban@scor-int.org)
Maria Hood (IOC) (m.hood@unesco.org)
Emily Breviere (IGBP) (emily.breviere@igbp.kva.se)

Climate Change Hitting the Sea’s Little Guys Too

When it comes to climate change, polar bears and sharks may grab the bulk of the headlines—but it’s the threat to the sea’s tiniest creatures that has some marine scientists most concerned.

Malformed seashells show that climate change is affecting even the most basic rungs of the marine food chain—a hint of looming disaster for all ocean creatures—experts say.

Climate change could drastically reduce sea urchin populations in particular, according to Gretchen Hofmann, a marine biologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

The purple sea urchin is commonly found off the coast of Australia and Antarctica. It is an essential food source for many marine animals such as cod or lobster, as well as a common ingredient in sushi.

Hofmann is concerned because increasing amounts of atmospheric carbon dioxide are also raising the amount of the gas dissolved in ocean water. This makes the seas more acidic, decreasing the available amount of shell-forming calcium carbonate.

Future Ocean in a Box

To test the theory, Hofmann tested sea urchins in highly acidic water similar to what is predicted for the oceans.

“We checked if they can make the skeleton that forms their bodies, and yes it is formed,” Hofmann said. “But it was shorter and stumpier—not the same shape—so they swim and move differently. Plus it comes at a cost, which is they are more sensitive to temperature.”

Hofmann refers to this malformed skeleton and sensitivity to heat as “double jeopardy.”

She went further than any previous research by analyzing the recently sequenced sea urchin genome to find out what genes were turning off and on under this new environmental stress.

“We wanted to ask them how they were doing and get a sense of their health and physiology,” Hofmann said. “We found it caused their shell-forming genes to go up threefold, so their developing system was having to put more energy into making the skeleton and less into other things.”

Hofmann presented her findings at the recent meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston, Massachusetts.

Continue reading ‘Climate Change Hitting the Sea’s Little Guys Too’


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OA-ICC HIGHLIGHTS

Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book

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