Scientists: Acidity in much of the Sound can be lethal

The acidity has risen so much in parts of Puget Sound that it has become lethal to shellfish larvae, report scientists from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Washington.

Much of the acidification — an estimated 24-49 percent — is the result of the ocean absorbing increased carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The carbon dioxide is coming from such sources as industrial emissions and car exhaust.

Most of the ocean has changed (the pH has decreased from a preindustrial 8.2 to 8.1, a 30 percent increase in acidity), and in spots such as Puget Sound the general increase in acidity combines with natural processes to create areas with more extreme conditions, particularly under the ocean.

The scientists found pHs of 7.4 in parts of southern Hood Canal and 7.7 in the main basin, said Richard Feely, director of the Ocean Acidification Program at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Laboratory. (pH levels are used to measure the acidity levels of water. The lower the level, the more acidic the water.)

“These pHs were not expected, and they were certainly lower than anything we have seen in the open ocean, and they are certainly corrosive.”

Fiona Cohen, seattlepi, 12 July 2010, Full article.

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