Archive for October, 2010

St. Thomas’ Chemistry Department to host ocean acidification lecture Nov. 5

The Chemistry Department will host a lecture by Dr. Richard Feely titled “Ocean Acidification: Global Warming’s Evil Twin” at 3 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 5 in 3M Auditorium in Owens Science Hall on St. Thomas’ St. Paul campus. The lecture is free and open to the public.
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Molecular mechanisms underlying calcification in coccolithophores

A number of studies are providing increasing genomic and transcriptomic information on the molecular components of transport, and biochemical control in the cell biology of calcification in coccolithophores. In this review we summarise recent evidence for molecular components involved in the trans-cellular transport of Ca2+, inorganic carbon and H+ between the external medium and the intracellular calcification compartment. We present new hypotheses for the transport of substrates to the site of calcification and for the removal of products, highlighting key gaps in our current knowledge. We also discuss how a cellular and molecular approach will improve abilities to understand and predict responses and adaptation to changing ocean chemistry of this important group of microorganisms.
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Heterozoan carbonates in subtropical to tropical settings in the present and past

Water temperature has received considerable attention as steering factor for the genesis of different types of marine carbonate sediments. However, parameters other than temperature also strongly influence ecosystems and, consequently, the carbonate grain associations in the resulting carbonate rock. Among those factors are biological evolution, water energy, substrate, water chemistry, light penetration, trophic conditions, CO2 concentrations, and Mg/Ca ratios in the seawater. Increased nutrient levels in warm-water settings, for example, lead to heterotrophic-dominated associations that are characteristic of temperate to cool-water carbonates. Failure to recognize the influence of such environmental factors that shift the grain associations towards heterotrophic communities in low latitudes can lead to misinterpretation of climatic conditions in the past. Modern analogues of low-latitude heterozoan carbonates help to recognize and understand past occurrences of heterozoan warm-water carbonates. Careful analysis of such sediments therefore is required in order to achieve robust reconstructions of past climate.
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Ordovician and Silurian sea–water chemistry, sea level, and climate: A synopsis

Following the Cambrian Explosion and the appearance in the fossil record of most animal phyla associated with a range of new body plans, the Ordovician and Silurian periods witnessed three subsequent major biotic events: the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event, the end-Ordovician extinction (the first animal extinction and second largest of the five mass extinctions of the Phanerozoic), and the Early Silurian post-extinction recovery. There are currently no simple explanations for these three major events. Combined extrinsic (geological) and intrinsic (biological) factors probably drove the biodiversifications and radiations, and the appearance and disappearance of marine habitats have to be analysed in the frame of changing palaeogeography, palaeoclimate and sea-water chemistry. The present paper reviews the relationships of the three biotic events to chemical and physical processes occurring in the ocean and atmosphere during the Ordovician and Silurian, including sea-level changes, geochemical proxies (δ13C, δ18O, 87Sr/86Sr) of the ocean waters, and the evolution of the atmosphere (oxygen and carbon dioxide content).
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Comparing the effect of elevated pCO2 and temperature on the fertilization and early development of two species of oysters

This study compared the synergistic effects of elevated pCO2 and temperature on the early life history stages of two ecologically and economically important oysters: the Sydney rock oyster, Saccostrea glomerata and the Pacific oyster, Crassostrea gigas. Gametes, embryos, larvae and spat were exposed to four pCO2 (375, 600, 750, 1,000 µatm) and four temperature (18, 22, 26, 30°C) levels. At elevated pCO2 and suboptimal temperatures, there was a reduction in the fertilization success of gametes, a reduction in the development of embryos and size of larvae and spat and an increase in abnormal morphology of larvae. These effects varied between species and fertilization treatments with S. glomerata having greater sensitivity than C. gigas. In the absence of adaptation, C. gigas may become the more dominant species along the south-eastern coast of Australia, recruiting into estuaries currently dominated by the native S. glomerata.
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Oregon field guide: Ocean acidification (video)

The ocean is turning more acidic as CO2 emissions rise, and shellfish are struggling to survive in the more acidic sea. For those interested in learning more about what is a very complicated topic, check out the following resources; some are fairly academic, others are “plain speak”.
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With world’s coral reefs under threat, UN report urges coordinated protection measures

A new United Nations report urges a global partnership, backed by commitment and resources, to tackle the threats posed to coral reefs by climate change, including damage from increasingly severe tropical cyclones and ocean acidification.

About 20 per cent of the original area of coral reefs has been lost, with a further 25 per cent threatened in the next century, according to the report “Climate, Carbon and Coral Reefs” by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

Tropical coral reefs cover about 0.2 per cent of the world’s ocean, contain about 25 per cent of marine species and are worth an estimated $30 billion annually to the global economy in terms of coastline protection, tourism and food.

For the past 20 years, they have been “under siege” from a growing global threat: increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the two UN bodies said in a joint press release.

“High CO2 emissions lead to ‘double trouble’ for coral reefs,” states the report, which was launched at the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD (COP-10), which is currently taking place in the Japanese city of Nagoya.
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Ocean acidification and its impact on polar ecosystems

We would like to draw your attention to session BG3.1 “Ocean acidification and its impact on polar ecosystems” that we will convene at the next EGU meeting (Vienna, 3-8 April 2011).

Ocean acidity has increased by 30% since preindustrial times due to the uptake of anthropogenic CO2. It is projected to rise by another 100% by 2100 if CO2 emissions continue at current rates. Polar seas are considered to be particularly vulnerable to ocean acidification because the high solubility of CO2 in cold waters results in naturally low carbonate saturation states. CO2-induced acidification will make these waters undersaturated with respect to calcium carbonate and, therefore, corrosive for calcareous organisms. By the time atmospheric CO2 exceeds 490 parts per million (2040 to 2050, depending on the scenario considered), more than half of the Arctic Ocean is projected to be corrosive to aragonite.
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2010 UK-US collaboration development award programme – ocean acidification


The UK Science & Innovation Network is pleased to accept applications for the collaboration development award programme, with a focus on research addressing ocean acidification. These awards provide funding so that UK and US scientists, engineers, academic leaders and innovation experts can travel abroad for short visits to lay the groundwork for collaborative efforts. The programme is sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) and Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s (FCO) Global Partnership Fund.

The programme aims to develop new relationships, leading to long‐term research collaborations. Ideal (long-term) outcomes include joint publications; sharing of equipment, materials, data, and facilities; knowledge exchange of skills and techniques; institutional linkages; joint or complementary funding applications; student / researcher exchange programmes; technology transfer; and industry or philanthropic sponsorship. Please do not be limited by these ideas ‐ we strongly encourage the development of innovative models for collaboration. Initial outcomes should be delivered over the first 6 to 12 months following the visit and lead to the development of long‐term relationships.
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Le Musée océanographique de Monaco accueille “The 2010 Annual Ocean Acidification Reference User Group Meeting” (in French)

3 jours, 30 chercheurs
pour débattre de l’acidification des océans

En croissance constante, les émissions de gaz carbonique (CO2) dues aux activités humaines ont un effet notoire sur le climat. Moins connue, leur absorption par l’océan entraîne une acidification de l’eau de mer. Mais quel est l’impact de ce phénomène sur les organismes et les écosystèmes marins? Où en est la recherche scientifique? Comment limiter les effets de cette menace? Quelles recommandations vers les acteurs politiques et économiques? vers le grand public?
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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book