Archive for August, 2008

Study: Acidification of oceans could impact marine life

Chasing camera shy sea life is an occupational hazard when you work with a giant Imax camera. But veteran filmmakers Howard and Michele Hall do it to make people aware of a new hazard to the oceans, they’re becoming more acidic.

“We’re trying to show what carbon dioxide is doing to the ocean, not only because of global warming, but also the chemical effects that carbon dioxide are having on our oceans,” says Underwater Filmmaker Howard Hall.
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Honolulu Declaration Offers Ways to Curb Ocean Acidification

As the oceans absorb increasing amounts of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, they are becoming increasingly acid, weakening the world’s coral reefs. Today, top marine scientists and The Nature Conservancy offered a plan to combat ocean acidification that includes limits on fossil fuel emissions, reduction of stress on reefs, and creation of marine protected areas to build resilience of tropical marine ecosystems.

The plan is contained in the Honolulu Declaration on Ocean Acidification and Reef Management, which the scientists presented to the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force meeting in Kailua-Kona for their last meeting during the International Year of the Reef.
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Stepping back from the acidic abyss

If you have to issue a declaration of some sort, Kona, on the big island of Hawaii, isn’t a shabby place to do it. Especially if the topic involves coral reefs and ocean acidification.

The venue: The 20th meeting of the US Coral Reef Task Force, set up in 1988 to coordinate the nation’s efforts to preserve these important marine habitats. Today, a group of prominent marine scientists presented the task force with its “Honolulu Declaration on Ocean Acidification and Reef Management. ” The four-page document (five if you count references) puts its main focus on what conservation managers can do now to try to ensure some level of resilience in their reef networks as oceans acidify. In many ways, it’s the latter that distinguishes this from other declarations of angst over acidification.
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Scientists Unveil “Honolulu Declaration” To Address Ocean Acidification

The increase in global carbon dioxide emissions is not just damaging the Earth’s climate, but also threatening the very fabric of our oceans. Today, The Nature Conservancy (, along with a dozen of the world’s top marine scientists, introduced key findings and recommendations to tackle ocean acidification as part of the “Honolulu Declaration on Ocean Acidification and Reef Management” revealed at the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force meeting in Kona, Hawai’i.
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Cut greenhouse gases to save coral reefs: scientists

To keep coral reefs from being eaten away by increasingly acidic oceans, humans need to limit the amount of climate-warming greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, a panel of marine scientists said on Wednesday.

“The most logical and critical action to address the impacts of ocean acidification on coral reefs is to stabilize atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration,” the scientists said in a document called the Honolulu Declaration, for release at a U.S. conference on coral reefs in Hawaii.
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Predicting the impact of ocean acidification on benthic biodiversity: What can animal physiology tell us?

For the past 200 years, the oceans have been absorbing carbon dioxide at an unprecidented rate. It is now evident that this ongoing process has already significantly altered seawater carbon chemistry at a global scale and will continue to do so for hundreds of years to come; a phenomenon termed “ocean acidification”. The challenge currently facing scientists is to predict the long term implications of ocean acidification for the diversity of marine organisms and for the ecosystem functions this diversity sustains. This challenge is all the more difficult considering that empirical data which specifically address the impact of ocean acidification on marine biodiversity are currently lacking. In the face of growing political and public pressure to provide answers, what predictions can be made and how reliable are the assumptions on which those predictions depend? Here we review the extent to which the few existing data, and understanding gained from previous physiological studies, can be used to make predictions for marine biodiversity. In doing so we also scrutinise some established paradigms concerning the impact of hypercapnia, resulting from seawater acidification, on marine organisms.
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Be Green Two: US Coral Reefs

The US coral reef task force is meeting in Kona this week.

In tonight’s be green two report, an agenda item reveals a major threat to our coral reef systems.

It’s called the greatest climate change threat facing coral reefs….ocean acidification.
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Corrosive Oceans: Carbon Emissions Threaten Ecosystem

Scientists Concerned About Impact of Acid Levels on Sea Life Worldwide

Under the vast, trackless surface of the ocean, scientists have discovered a monster of a problem, literally rising from the deep.

The world’s oceans are becoming more acidic and corrosive because of the same carbon emissions that cause another immense problem: global warming.

“We think this can have devastating impacts on our ocean ecosystem,” said Richard Feely, program manager at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory.
Continue reading ‘Corrosive Oceans: Carbon Emissions Threaten Ecosystem’

Carbon caveat

Interactions among microbes suggest oceans could absorb less carbon than expected.

It sounds like a cryptic fortune cookie: He who adds carbon to the ocean will find that it has less.

Adding carbon compounds to ocean water can sometimes affect microbe communities in ways that result in less stored carbon dioxide than has been assumed, a new study published online August 20 in Nature suggests. The oceans’ carbon storage is an important factor in predicting the severity of climate change.
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Counterintuitive carbon-to-nutrient coupling in an Arctic pelagic ecosystem

Predicting the ocean’s role in the global carbon cycle requires an understanding of the stoichiometric coupling between carbon and growth-limiting elements in biogeochemical processes. A recent addition to such knowledge is that the carbon/nitrogen ratio of inorganic consumption and release of dissolved organic matter may increase in a high-CO2 world. This will, however, yield a negative feedback on atmospheric CO2 only if the extra organic material escapes mineralization within the photic zone. Here we show, in the context of an Arctic pelagic ecosystem, how the fate and effects of added degradable organic carbon depend critically on the state of the microbial food web. When bacterial growth rate was limited by mineral nutrients, extra organic carbon accumulated in the system. When bacteria were limited by organic carbon, however, addition of labile dissolved organic carbon reduced phytoplankton biomass and activity and also the rate at which total organic carbon accumulated, explained as the result of stimulated bacterial competition for mineral nutrients. This counterintuitive ‘more organic carbon gives less organic carbon’ effect was particularly pronounced in diatom-dominated systems where the carbon/mineral nutrient ratio in phytoplankton production was high. Our results highlight how descriptions of present and future states of the oceanic carbon cycle require detailed understanding of the stoichiometric coupling between carbon and growth-limiting mineral nutrients in both autotrophic and heterotrophic processes.
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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book