Ocean acidification – Sarah Cooley, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (video)

Ocean acidification: an environmental externality is coming home to roost
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Anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere are altering ocean chemistry worldwide. The resultant ocean acidification alters physiological processes in many marine species by changing pH, carbon dioxide concentration, or the availability of ions in seawater. Individual organisms’ responses could alter their survival, growth, or reproduction, thereby changing population sizes or geographic ranges. Population-scale changes could promote ecosystem-wide shifts as they trickle up through the ocean food web. This could broadly alter the marine ecosystem services—such as harvests, coastal protection, or cultural identity—that human communities depend on.

Although we cannot yet summarize all the likely indirect effects of ocean acidification because we do not fully understand marine ecosystem linkages and cannot comprehensively value ecosystem services, we have begun to forecast ocean acidification’s potential direct effects on humans. We have estimated the economic and nutritional impacts of changing mollusk harvests due to ocean acidification. We can also estimate the economic value of coastal protection provided by coral reefs and shellfish beds. As we begin to evaluate the less easily quantified or indirect impacts of ocean acidification and as we compare them with other stressors acting on marine ecosystems, we should start by incorporating approaches from climate change studies that bring together natural sciences and social sciences.

Kavli Frontiers of Science, Vimeo, 6 October 2011. Video.

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