Archive for April, 2013

In Washington State ocean acidification is about people (video)

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Dr. Chris Gobler on ocean acidification (video)

When it comes to climate change and the ocean, we often think of the impacts to water temperature, sea level rise and coastal storms. However, Dr. Chris Gobler of Stony Brook University calls ocean acidification a “game-changer in the way we think about how climate change can affect the functioning of our oceans.”

GRACE Communications Foundation (blip)
, April 2013. Video.

Ozean im Stresstest (audio, in German)

Forscher testen in einem Fjord in Schweden, wie Kleinstlebewesen und Fischlarven auf Ozeanversauerung reagieren.

Das Treibhausgas Kohlendioxid heizt nicht nur den Klimawandel an, es führt auch zur Versauerung der Meere. Wie schädlich sich dies längerfristig auf Bakterien, Einzeller, Algen und Fische auswirkt, ist noch ziemlich unklar.

Ein Experiment in einem Fjord nördlich von Göteborg soll mehr Klarheit bringen.

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Impacts of ocean acidification on marine shelled molluscs

Over the next century, elevated quantities of atmospheric CO2 are expected to penetrate into the oceans, causing a reduction in pH (−0.3/−0.4 pH unit in the surface ocean) and in the concentration of carbonate ions (so-called ocean acidification). Of growing concern are the impacts that this will have on marine and estuarine organisms and ecosystems. Marine shelled molluscs, which colonized a large latitudinal gradient and can be found from intertidal to deep-sea habitats, are economically and ecologically important species providing essential ecosystem services including habitat structure for benthic organisms, water purification and a food source for other organisms. The effects of ocean acidification on the growth and shell production by juvenile and adult shelled molluscs are variable among species and even within the same species, precluding the drawing of a general picture. This is, however, not the case for pteropods, with all species tested so far, being negatively impacted by ocean acidification. The blood of shelled molluscs may exhibit lower pH with consequences for several physiological processes (e.g. respiration, excretion, etc.) and, in some cases, increased mortality in the long term. While fertilization may remain unaffected by elevated pCO2, embryonic and larval development will be highly sensitive with important reductions in size and decreased survival of larvae, increases in the number of abnormal larvae and an increase in the developmental time. There are big gaps in the current understanding of the biological consequences of an acidifying ocean on shelled molluscs. For instance, the natural variability of pH and the interactions of changes in the carbonate chemistry with changes in other environmental stressors such as increased temperature and changing salinity, the effects of species interactions, as well as the capacity of the organisms to acclimate and/or adapt to changing environmental conditions are poorly described.

Continue reading ‘Impacts of ocean acidification on marine shelled molluscs’

Ocean acidification: University of Washington’s giant plastic bags help control research conditions

With oceans becoming more acidic worldwide, scientists are getting creative in designing experiments to study them. For example, one group at the University of Washington is using giant plastic bags to study ocean acidification.

Each bag holds about 3,000 liters of seawater and sits in a cylinder-like cage for stability. The group at UW, made up of professors and students, is controlling carbon dioxide levels in the bags over a nearly three-week period, during which they are looking at the effects of increased acidity on organisms living near the San Juan Islands.

“These mesocosms are a way to do a traditional experiment you might do in a lab or classroom,” said Jim Murray, professor of oceanography at the University of Washington. The structures, he said, make it possible to bring a part of the natural environment under controlled conditions.

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A step in the right direction: ocean acidification regulation under section 303(d) of the CWA

The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) is leading the fight against ocean acidification (OA), in my beautiful home state of Washington, using the Clean Water Act’s (CWA) impaired waterbody listing requirement pursuant to § 303(d)[1] in an attempt to combat this prominent problem.

OA is caused by the world’s oceans taking in more Carbon Dioxide (CO2) than they can handle subsequently increasing the acidity and decreasing the pH levels of the oceans.[2] Estimates suggest that over twenty two million tons of CO2 are absorbed by the world’s oceans daily.[3] Oceans are already thirty percent more acidic than they were before the industrial revolution and models suggest that by the end of this century oceans could be 150 percent more acidic.[4] The acidification of the world’s oceans has a direct and dire impact on marine life, particularly to skeleton building organisms such as coral, calcifying algae and mollusks such as mussels and oysters.[5]

Continue reading ‘A step in the right direction: ocean acidification regulation under section 303(d) of the CWA’

Increased carbon dioxide levels damage coral reefs (audio)

Scientists have been worried about coral reefs for years, since realizing that rising temperatures and rising ocean acidity are hard on organisms that build their skeletons from calcium carbonate. Researchers on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef are conducting an experiment that demonstrates just how much corals could suffer in the coming decades.

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Ocean acidification could help fish hear better

A group of researchers unveiled a stunning new insight into the possible effects of acidification on sensory function of larval cobia.

The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, University of Miami researcher Sean Bignami, along with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists Ian Enochs, Derek Manzello, and UM professors Su Sponaugle and Robert Cowen.

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Special symposium on Climate Change and Molluscan Ecophysiology

We would like to draw your attention to a special symposium on Climate Change and Molluscan Ecophysiology, jointly sponsored by the American Malacological Society and the Company of Biologists, to be held at the upcoming World Congress of Malacology in the Azores July 22-26, 2013. The symposium will address the direct (ocean acidification) and indirect (warming and expanding hypoxia) impacts of increased carbon dioxide on the calcification, energetics, ecology, and biogeography of mollusks and the physiological mechanisms available to combat or tolerate these changes.

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Progress in controlled in situ ocean acidification experiments

Ocean acidification is widely recognized as a significant climate-related oceanic threat, not only independently but also in connection with other oceanic stressors, including warming and deoxygenation. Recent work shows that ocean acidification will negatively affect processes such as calcification of most species, including reef-building corals, and could also cause diminished fish sensory ability and respiratory stress. However, almost all of these findings result from short-term experiments on organisms in laboratory aquaria. But how can scientists perform long-term in situ experiments that may confirm, or modify, conclusions drawn from laboratory experiments? With funding from the BNP Paribas Foundation, the xFOCE workshop brought together a group of 20 scientists and engineers to examine this.

Continue reading ‘Progress in controlled in situ ocean acidification experiments’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book