Archive for January, 2009

Leading scientists from all over the world call for immediate action to stop ocean acidification

Under embargo until 10.30 am (GMT), Friday 30 January

Paris, 29 January – More than 150 leading marine scientists from 26 countries are calling for immediate action by policymakers to reduce CO2 emissions sharply so as to avoid widespread and severe damage to marine ecosystems from ocean acidification. They issued this warning in the Monaco Declaration, released on 30 January.

The scientists note that ocean acidification is already detectable, that it is accelerating. They caution that its negative socio-economic impacts can only be avoided by limiting future atmospheric CO2 levels.

Prince Albert II of Monaco has urged political leaders to heed the Monaco Declaration as they prepare for climate negotiations at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen this year. “I strongly support this declaration, which is in full accord with my efforts and those of my Foundation to alleviate climate change,” he said.

The Monaco Declaration is based on the Research Priorities Report developed by participants at last October’s 2nd international symposium on The Ocean in a High-CO2 World, organized by UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the International Geosphere Biosphere Programme (IGBP), with the support of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and several other partners.
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Q&A: the importance of protecting coral reefs

Polly Ghazi from World Resources Institute, part of the Guardian Environment Network, asks Lauretta Burke to explain why the recent designation of 195,000 square miles of coral rich marine habitat in the Pacific Ocean is important to global reef conservation efforts

What are the major threats that face the world’s coral reefs and what more needs to be done to protect them?

There’s a wide variety of threats affecting coral reefs, some local in nature and some global. Of the local threats, one of the most pervasive is overfishing pressure which can be reduced by this sort of Monument Status and by restrictions on commercial fishing within these reserves. Some other local threats include coastal development and runoff from the land, also runoff from excessive fertilizer application, and in some areas, tourism impacts. The global threats are obviously more difficult to deal with. As we emit more greenhouse gasses we’re getting warmer seas. We’re also getting acidifying seas. So it’s important that there are actions to reduce the rate of greenhouse gas emissions, particularly CO2. But a combination of local action and global action is needed because, as reefs face increasing pressure from these global threats, one thing we can do is reduce the local threats, thereby giving them a better chance to recover after an event like coral bleaching.
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Baird named chairman of Energy and Environment subcommittee

U.S. Rep. Brian Baird, D-Wash., has been appointed chairman of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee of the House Science and Technology Committee.

Baird said the post will give him a key role in reshaping national energy policy and prevent acid rain from damaging the ocean.

“I am extremely concerned with climate change and ocean acidification and look forward to playing a leading role in using scientific research to craft responsible policies in these areas,” Baird said in a statement Thursday.

The subcommittee has oversight over a number of environmental, energy, and climate change and research programs.
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Goldschmidt Conference. Session 13a: Ocean Acidification: Past, Present and Future

We would like to draw your attention to a special session at the 2009
Goldschmidt Conference in Davos, Switzerland (June 21-26).

Theme 13: Global Geochemical Challenges: Past Record and Future Impact

Session 13a: Ocean Acidification: Past, Present and Future

Keynote: Lee Kump (Pennsylvania State University)

The ocean will absorb increasing amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere if
fossil fuel emissions continue unabated. The resulting decrease in the
pH of surface waters, dubbed ‘ocean acidification’ will push ocean
geochemistry outside of the envelope of at least the last few tens of
millions of years. There is concern regarding what the implications such
changes in environmental conditions will have for living organisms in
the ocean, particularly those which make calcium carbonate (CaCO3)
shells and skeletons. What do we know about past records of ocean
acidification? How large were these carbon cycle perturbations and how
long did they last? How fast will ocean acidification affect changes in
calcite and aragonite saturation horizons in the future and when will
areas of the surface ocean become undersaturated? This session welcomes
all possible aspects of analysis of ocean acidification, from geological
records of past events via measurements of current changes in ocean’s pH
and or calcification to biogeochemical models.
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Animating climate issues

This week students from Ridgeway Community School are working with experts from Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) and the National Marine Aquarium (NMA) to mastermind and produce an informative animation on a major climate issue, know as ocean acidification – the other CO2 problem.

In 2008 the Plymouth school won the European Schools Film Contest against participants from Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Netherlands, Poland and Sweden with an animation explaining climate change and its impacts. Dr Carol Turley, senior scientist at PML and a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore in 2007, was so impressed with the animation that she commissioned the school, with funding from the European Project on OCean Acidification (EPOCA), to produce a short film on ocean acidification.
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Ocean Acidification and Its Impact on Marine Life

If you thought you couldn’t get enough of ocean acidification since Miriam’s post, think again! There’s so much more that you just don’t know (at least I didn’t) and Lina Hansson and Jean-Pierre Gattuso from the EPOCA Project Office in Villefranche-sur-mer, France are on hand to tell us exactly what we need to know to keep our marine organisms and ecosystems safe. Read on to find out what you can do and make sure to check out the additional links found at the bottom of the page.
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Scientists discover new marine life off Tasmania

A team of researchers from Australia and the United States have uncovered new marine life, including fiery red coral and purple-spotted sea anemones, in deep waters off the Australian state of Tasmania, according to findings released Sunday.

Scientists who took part in the US$2 million four-week expedition also found that most reef-forming coral deeper than 4,200 feet (1,300 meters) in the area were newly dead. Researchers will study samples of the coral to try and determine whether the creatures are dying because of ocean warming, disease, a rise in ocean acidity or some other reason.

“Mathematical models predict that we could be seeing impacts of ocean acidification in this region,” one of the expedition’s chief scientists, Ron Thresher of Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, said in a statement. “If our analysis identifies this phenomenon as the cause of the reef system’s demise, then the impact we are seeing now below 1,300 meters (4,200 feet) might extend to the shallower portions of the deep reefs over the next 50 years, threatening this entire community.”
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Senate passes Lautenberg measure on ocean acidification

Legislation authored by Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) to focus research on rising ocean acidity passed the Senate yesterday. Ocean acidification harms marine life and poses serious risks to the fishing industry.

“Ocean acidification is a serious threat to our environment and to our marine life,” said Sen. Lautenberg. “Changes in ocean chemistry, caused by greenhouse gases, will affect our food supply and the health of our oceans. But research on ocean acidification is still in its infancy. My legislation would provide the needed research to analyze and address the environmental and economic impacts of ocean acidification.”
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Fish Guts May Shed Light on Mystery of Upper Ocean’s Chemistry

Fish guts may hold the answer to a mystery that’s puzzled ocean chemists for decades: Why seawater becomes more alkaline the deeper you go.

Ocean waters become more alkaline, or less acidic, as carbonates produced by plankton dissolve. The chemical compounds typically don’t break down until a depth of several kilometers where the pressure is enough, said Rod Wilson, lead author of a study today in the journal Science. The ocean’s alkalinity increases by about 4 percent in the first kilometer, his team said.

“That left a mystery of what’s causing this increasing alkalinity in the surface layers,” Wilson, a fish biologist at the University of Exeter, southwest England, said in a telephone interview. His team found fish produce a more soluble form of carbonate in their gut that can dissolve in shallower waters.
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UBC researcher gives first-ever estimate of worldwide fish biomass and impact on climate change

Are there really plenty of fish in the sea? University of British Columbia fisheries researcher Villy Christensen gives the first-ever estimate of total fish biomass in our oceans: Two billion tonnes.

And fish play a previously unrecognized but significant role in mitigating climate change by maintaining the delicate pH balance of the oceans, according to a study published in tomorrow’s edition of the journal Science, co-authored by Christensen and a team of international scientists.

“By drinking salt water, fish ingest a lot of calcium, which needs to be removed – or they will get renal stones,” says Christensen, an associate professor in the UBC Fisheries Centre.
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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book