Archive for June, 2009

Community review of Guide to Best Practices in Ocean Acidification Research and Data Reporting

The community review of the Guide to Best Practices in Ocean Acidification Research and Data Reporting is extended by one month. The deadline for sending comments is extended until 15 August 2009. The two chapters that are still missing will be available on 15 July at the latest.
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Corrosive oceans imminent (press release)

Plymouth Marine Laboratory press release, 19 June 2009

The fear that the Arctic Ocean will become corrosive to shell or skeleton forming marine organisms is likely to become reality within decades according to scientists attending a critical meeting in Plymouth UK at the end of the month. Over 100 marine scientists specialising in ocean acidification are gathering to swap experiences, share understanding and decide the path of future research into the dramatic effects resulting from excess carbon dioxide being absorbed from the atmosphere into the oceans.
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IOP Conference Series: Consequences of acidification of land and ocean

Several oral presentations and a poster abstracts are available from the Climate change: Global risks, challenges and decisions conference at the IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science open-access journal web site.
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Effects of ocean acidification on the early life history of a tropical marine fish

Little is known about how fishes and other non-calcifying marine organisms will respond to the increased levels of dissolved CO2 and reduced sea water pH that are predicted to occur over the coming century. We reared eggs and larvae of the orange clownfish, Amphiprion percula, in sea water simulating a range of ocean acidification scenarios for the next 50–100 years (current day, 550, 750 and 1030 ppm atmospheric CO2). CO2 acidification had no detectable effect on embryonic duration, egg survival and size at hatching. In contrast, CO2 acidification tended to increase the growth rate of larvae. By the time of settlement (11 days post-hatching), larvae from some parental pairs were 15 to 18 per cent longer and 47 to 52 per cent heavier in acidified water compared with controls. Larvae from other parents were unaffected by CO2 acidification. Elevated CO2 and reduced pH had no effect on the maximum swimming speed of settlement-stage larvae. There was, however, a weak positive relationship between length and swimming speed. Large size is usually considered to be advantageous for larvae and newly settled juveniles. Consequently, these results suggest that levels of ocean acidification likely to be experienced in the near future might not, in isolation, significantly disadvantage the growth and performance of larvae from benthic-spawning marine fishes.
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Global sunscreen won’t save corals

Emergency plans to counteract global warming by artificially shading the Earth from incoming sunlight might lower the planet’s temperature a few degrees, but such “geoengineering” solutions would do little to stop the acidification of the world oceans that threatens coral reefs and other marine life, report the authors of a new study in the journal Geophysical Research Letters*. The culprit is atmospheric carbon dioxide, which even in a cooler globe will continue to be absorbed by seawater, creating acidic conditions.

“There would be a slight reduction in this problem, because land plants would be expected to be able to grow more vigorously in a high CO2, but cool world,” says Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology, a co-author of the study with lead author Damon Matthews of Concordia University, Canada, and Carnegie geochemist Long Cao. Land plants and soils would hold onto more carbon in this scenario, so less would find its way into the oceans. “However this expansion of the land biosphere, while it’s a slight help to ocean acidification is not enough to make a big difference.”
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Swimmer’s ear

Acidity is supposed to make building calcium bones more difficult, scientists thought. That’s why researchers were surprised to find the opposite to be true for young fish raised in more acid waters.

In this week’s Science, they report their results as yet another unexpected consequence of climate change. The authors, led by David Checkley at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, kept white sea bass eggs and larvae under varying carbon dioxide concentrations. The fishes’ otoliths, ear bones that help them orient and accelerate, were larger in those raised under higher carbon dioxide conditions. Today, rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations are causing the ocean to acidify as excess gas dissolves in marine waters.
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Surprise: Fish in acidic waters grow bigger ears

Listen up! Carbon dioxide being absorbed by the oceans is having a puzzling effect on fish — their ears get bigger.

Now, that doesn’t mean you’re going to reel in the Mr. Spock of the sea. Fish ears are inside their bodies.

But, as in humans, their ears perform a major role in sensing movement and whether the animal is upright — abilities that are important for survival.

“It was a surprise,” biological oceanographer David M. Checkley of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, said of the discovery.
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Fish ear bones affected by CO2

As researchers contemplate the impacts of accumulating greenhouse gases, their concerns are not restricted to rising temperatures and sea levels and other problems they are pretty sure we can expect. They also worry about impacts, big and small, that no one has thought of.

Now scientists say they may have discovered one of those unanticipated possibilities: a significant change in the ear anatomy of fish raised in water with elevated concentrations of carbon dioxide, the main heat-trapping emission, much of which is absorbed by the sea.

As oceans absorb CO2, the water becomes more acidic. Already, scientists say, ocean acidification may be hindering shell formation by corals and some shellfish. This new research, led by David Checkley of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, involved fish exposed to waters with high levels of the gas.
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Rising CO2 in oceans may hurt fish (audio)

An experiment by UC San Diego researchers shows that rising carbon dioxide levels in the ocean have the potential to affect the health of fish.

Previous studies have shown that increasing carbon dioxide levels in the ocean hurt shell-forming creatures and corals.

But a new study from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography shows for the first time that CO2 can impact a fundamental bodily structure in fish.

The researchers exposed white seabass to high levels of carbon dioxide.

The fish experienced abnormally large growth in their ear bones as a result of the exposure.
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High C02 levels cause big-eared fish

White seabass that live in ocean water with high concentrations of carbon dioxide end up with bigger ear bones, according to a newly released study by researchers at the UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

The study, due to be published Friday in the journal Science, is the first to show that rising carbon dioxide levels in oceans can impact the bodily structures of marine life.

David Checkley, a Scripps professor and lead author of the study, said he and other researchers were expecting to show that higher C02 levels would cause the seabass ear bones to grow more slowly. Instead, the opposite happened.
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