Ocean Acidification and the Weskeag

Friends of the Weskeag will host a public informational meeting about Ocean Acidification and the Georges River and Weskeag Estuaries — what we need to know, how we can find out, and how citizens can participate. The meeting will take place at 6:30PM Thursday January 26 at the Wessaweskeag Historical Society in South Thomaston.

Jon Eaton, Georges River Tidewater Association (GRTA), and Sherm Hoyt, Fisheries Outreach Coordinator for Maine Sea Grant and Cooperative Extension, will discuss plans for a new citizen monitoring program and how this can be applied to the Weskeag. GRTA has been developing this monitoring program over the past several months with generous assistance from the Friends of Casco Bay, the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment, and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. The advisory committee for this program includes some of Maine’s top marine scientists and shoreline stewards. Monitoring begins in spring 2012, to track pH, dissolved oxygen, total nitrogen, chlorophyll, turbidity, temperature, and salinity in the estuary.

Scientists report an alarming trend in the Gulf of Maine and elsewhere around the world toward lower pH values-i.e., increasing acidity. Offshore, the culprit appears to be climate change; as carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere increase, the oceans absorb more and more CO2, which forms carbonic acid in seawater. Inshore this background trend can be accelerated by nutrient loading from shoreline runoff.

Nutrient enrichment leads to unnatural blooms of algae, the decomposition of which consumes oxygen, releases carbon dioxide, and thus lowers both dissolved oxygen and pH. And there is alarming evidence that even a slight reduction in pH disrupts the recruitment and growth of clams, mussels, and possibly lobsters.

FMI: Vivian Newman, 691-2120, newviv@roadrunner.com

 

Vivian Newman, Marine Environmental News, 18 January 2012. Article.


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