Rising temperatures and sea levels, melting glaciers and extreme weather dominate the discussion on global warming, but a parallel issue with potentially tremendous impact on Alaska’s coastal waters is finally gaining attention.
Increased research into ocean acidification caused by the saturation of water with carbon dioxide is the focus of Jeremy Mathis of University of Alaska Fairbanks, who stepped onto the national stage for the first time recently in a briefing to a mix of Congressmen, Senators and staffers in Washington, D.C.
“I was very surprised, especially from the staff standpoint,” Mathis said. “They asked very penetrating, thoughtful questions. They had done a lot of homework before the briefing. I was very impressed with the level of sophistication. It was what I would expect from my colleagues. It was very encouraging.”
A positive response from holders of the purse strings is essential to making up research ground on ocean acidification, which Mathis calls a “sister” or co-equal problem to global warming. Studies of its potential effects on the food chain are few and the lack of baseline data on ocean pH levels is a stark contrast to decades of temperature monitoring from stations positioned around the globe.
Andrew Jensen, Alaska Journal of Commerce, 2 April 2010. Full article.