Archive for May, 2008

KUOW: Program Archive

U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell yesterday convened a group of scientists in Seattle to hear testimony on the health of the oceans. The focus was on how rising acidity of ocean water could be posing a threat to marine life. But the science was not so clear cut. KUOW’s Deborah Wang reports.
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Rising acidity of seawater could disrupt NW food chains

Puget Sound faces an uncertain future due to the increasing acidity of seawater, a panel of marine scientists said Tuesday. The changes are coming more rapidly than expected, and could disrupt food chains and threaten Washington’s shellfish industry.

The acidic seawater is moving closer to shallow waters containing the bulk of marine life, according to an article this month in the journal Science. The increasingly corrosive water threatens the survival of many organisms, from microscopic plants and animals at the base of the food chain to shellfish, corals and the young of some marine species.
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U.S. Pacific coast waters turning more acidic

An international team of scientists surveying the waters of the continental shelf off the West Coast of North America has discovered for the first time high levels of acidified ocean water within 20 miles of the shoreline, raising concern for marine ecosystems from Canada to Mexico.

Researchers aboard the Wecoma, an Oregon State University research vessel, also discovered that this corrosive, acidified water that is being “upwelled” seasonally from the deeper ocean is probably 50 years old, suggesting that future ocean acidification levels will increase since atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide have increased rapidly over the past half century.

Results of the study were just published in Science Express.
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Study: Pacific coast becoming more acidic

Scientists aboard a U.S. research ship have discovered high levels of acidified ocean water within 20 miles of the West Coast shoreline.

The international team of researchers aboard Oregon State University’s research vessel Wecoma surveying the waters of the continental shelf off the West Coast of North America said their finding raises concern for marine ecosystems from Canada to Mexico.
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Sealife at risk from rapid acidification

Scientists conducting a major survey of the North American Pacific coast have found significant increases in acidity that could have a profound effect on sealife.

Rising ocean acidity has been predicted by scientists as a consequence of increased CO2 emissions, but the new research suggests that in some parts of the ocean these increases are happening much faster than predicted. The change seen in the surveys was not expected until 2050.

Experts predict that the changes could have a catastrophic effect on marine life. More acidic seawater means that species such as shellfish, plankton and coral will have much more difficulty making their shells and hard skeletons. That will seriously reduce the productivity of the entire food chain, changing ocean ecology and leading potentially to drastic reductions in fish stocks.
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Oceans turning acidic decades earlier

Greenhouse gases are turning the oceans acidic enough to dissolve the shells of sea creatures decades earlier than scientists had expected, with potentially catastrophic consequences for marine life.

Distribution of the observed surface seawater temperture during our cruise along the Pacific continental margin in May-June 2007.

Many marine organisms produce calcium carbonate (chalk) shells but, when the acidity of the water is increased, a point is reached at which that calcium carbonate starts to dissolve.

Today an American team publishes evidence that this acidic “tipping point” has been reached on the continental shelf along the west coast of North America, where many delicate organisms live.

The work underlines rising concerns that man made emissions will affect the world’s oceans, through acidification, in a much more direct way than climate change.

“This is potentially very bad news,” commented Mr Paul Halloran of Oxford University, a British expert. “The impact on tourism and fisheries may have huge economic consequences.”

He was commenting on the discovery by a team led by Dr Richard Feely of the US Government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Seattle reports that waters which a century ago were not corrosive have now become able to dissolve shells.
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The dark side of a carbon sponge – acidified seawater

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water….

What used to be good news on the climate change front turns out to have a dark side. Scientists have known for years that the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere believed to be creating a greenhouse effect has been slowed by the capacity of the oceans to act as a carbon sink.
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Acidified ocean water rising up nearly 100 years earlier than scientists predicted

Climate models predicted it wouldn’t happen until the end of the century.

So Seattle researchers were stunned to discover that vast swaths of acidified sea water are already showing up along the Pacific Coast as carbon dioxide from power plants, cars and factories mixes into the ocean.

In surveys from Vancouver Island to the tip of Baja California, the scientists found the first evidence that large amounts of corrosive water are reaching the continental shelf — the shallow sea margin where most marine creatures live. In some places, including Northern California, the acidified water was as little as four miles from shore.
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Acidic oceans arrive early

Scientists have found ‘corrosive water’ off the coast of North America, a result of carbon dioxide being absorbed from the atmosphere. This is reputedly the first time acidified ocean water has been detected on the continental shelf of the western United States and – surprise, surprise – it’s that climate change that’s causing it.
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Coastal ocean more acidic than anticipated

Ocean water along the continental shelf of western North America is becoming more acidic and will likely have negative impacts on marine ecosystems, such as the corrosion of calcium carbonate exoskeletons in many organisms, according to Feely et al. in Science 22 May 2008.
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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book