CO2 absorption and nutrient runoffs increase acidity of Puget Sound

A combination of carbon dioxide emitted by human activities and nutrient runoff is transforming the chemistry of Washington state’s Puget Sound, according to a new study.

Without intervention, the one-two punch could threaten the area’s shellfish industry, said lead author Richard Feely, a senior scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle.

Feely and his team sampled waters in Puget Sound in February and August 2008, discovering that the estuary’s waters were surprisingly acidic — and in some areas, likely corrosive to many shelled creatures.

The ocean averages a pH of 8.1, on a 14-point scale where battery acid tests at 0, pure water at 7 and drain cleaner at 14.

Lauren Morello, The New York Times, 13 July 2010. Full article.

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