Ocean off North Olympic Peninsula 10 times more acidic than thought

Measurements of ocean acidification off the North Olympic Peninsula coast at Tatoosh Island show acidity is rising more than 10 times faster than climate models have predicted.

The researchers cannot say whether the trend is widespread.

The eight years of research also revealed that the corrosive effect of acidic ocean waters could trigger a dramatic shift in coastal species and jeopardize some shellfish stocks.

“The increase in acidity we saw during our study was about the same magnitude as we expect over the course of the next century,” said study co-author Timothy Wootton, a marine biologist from the University of Chicago.

While the waters off the Peninsula may be a unique environment, “this raises a warning flag that the oceans may be changing faster than people think,” he said.

Wootton warned that an acidity-driven shift in coastal ecosystems could spell disaster for shellfish industries that rely on mussels and other similar species.

His team’s findings were published last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Increased carbon dioxide emissions from human activities and the burning of fossil fuels have led to a 30 percent rise in ocean acidity in the past 200 years.

Penisula Daily News, 30 November 2008. Full article.

1 Response to “Ocean off North Olympic Peninsula 10 times more acidic than thought”

  1. 1 gattuso 1 December 2008 at 17:58

    The definition of “acidic” in the Oxford English dictionary is “having the properties of an acid; having a pH of less than 7”. This definition does not apply to un-manipulated seawater now nor in the foreseeable future. Hence, the adjective “acidic” should not be used. Note that there are some exceptions, for example in the immediate vicinity of CO2 vents.

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