OSU studies rising coastal ocean acidity

ASTORIA — A team of Oregon State University scientists set out Tuesday on the research vessel Wecoma to study coastal ocean acidity and its effects on marine life.

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Over 10 days they’ll test the water near the mouth of the Columbia River.”What we’re seeing is that CO2 levels and pH levels and acidification levels on the coastal ocean are getting worse,” said Professor Burke Hales.Hales said an increasingly acidic ocean was already dissolving juvenile oyster shells and could eventually impact sea life as we know it.He said high CO2 levels are tied to low oxygen levels which can lead to dead zones off the coast, where sea life dies off in notable numbers.The team was using state of the art technology, including a “super sucker” which delivers water to the ship in real time and straight to onboard labs.Water will be pulled from the river, estuaries and the ocean and tested for CO2, oxygen and algae levels.The goal is to find out where the problems are coming from. Are they the result of nature or of mankind?”What we don’t understand perfectly yet is what the relationship is between natural variability and human caused changes,” said Hales.

Keely Chalmers, KGW.com, 4 August 2010. Article and video.

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