Archive for June, 2014

Commission on ocean acidification begins work to protect Maine’s coastal economy

Maine becomes first state on east coast to take proactive approach to study, plan, and prepare

(PORTLAND) The world’s ocean water is becoming more acidic, and that spells trouble for shellfish like clams and oysters, say marine scientists.  In order to get a handle on the problem as well as possible solutions, the Maine Legislature voted overwhelmingly in April to form the Maine Ocean Acidification Commission.  Today the 16-member panel was announced at a gathering on the Portland waterfront that featured U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree, commission co-chairman Chris Johnson, and a demonstration of the acidification process by Joe Payne, Casco Baykeeper.

“This commission is the first of its kind on the east coast,” said Beth Ahearn, Program Manager for Maine Conservation Alliance.  “There is no doubt that the time to act is now. This marks an important step forward in protecting Maine’s shellfish and coastal jobs from the growing threat of ocean acidification.”

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Climate change goes underwater

When it comes to climate change, almost all the attention is on the air. What’s happening to the water, however, is just as worrying — although for the moment it may be slightly more manageable.

Here’s the problem in a seashell: As the oceans absorb about a quarter of the carbon dioxide released by fossil-fuel burning, the pH level in the underwater world is falling, creating the marine version of climate change. Ocean acidification is rising at its fastest pace in 300 million years, according to scientists.

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Climate change and ocean acidification: a free workshop for Oregon educators Monday, August 11 – Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Scientists and Teachers in Education Partnerships (STEPs) is back with another free summer workshop to introduce educators to current research underway on the science and impacts of climate change and ocean acidification in the College of Earth, Oceanographic, and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University. Join researchers Andreas Schmittner, Burke Hales, George Waldbusser, Brian Haley, Kathie Dello, Gwen Bury, Susan Capalbo for talks, tours, and hands-on activities.

WHEN: August 11 & August 12
WHO: 6-12th grade educators
WHERE: Oregon State University

Continue reading ‘Climate change and ocean acidification: a free workshop for Oregon educators Monday, August 11 – Tuesday, August 12, 2014’

Strengthening ocean acidification data


Photo by Greg McFall

Off of Georgia’s coast is Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary (GRNMS). GRNMS is approximately 17 nautical miles offshore and encompasses 22 square miles of marine protected area that is home to many large invertebrates such as sponges, corals and sea squirts.

In 2013, as part of NOAA’s Ocean Acidification (OA) Program, SECOORA received funds to provide support to the GRNMS buoy. The buoy is maintained by the University of Georgia and is part of international efforts to quantify the effects of OA on the world’s ocean. OA is a global change in ocean chemistry resulting from the ocean’s uptake of carbon dioxide (CO2), which is increasing in the atmosphere due to the burning of fossil fuels, land use change and more. It is important to measure OA because the increase in CO2 levels can decrease the ocean’s pH, adversely affecting a variety of organisms, particularly those with calcium carbonate shells or skeletons.

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Acid trip: ocean acidification alters marine animal behaviour


Photo by Jeff Clements

When assessing the impacts of ocean acidification (OA) on marine animals, peer-reviewed studies predominantly address the mortality and physiology of these organisms. However, over the past few years, it has become apparent that animal behavior can also be altered under increasingly acidifying conditions.

Continue reading ‘Acid trip: ocean acidification alters marine animal behaviour’

Soft corals could help protect reefs

Soft corals are more resilient to changes in oceanic acidity than previously believed, a new study has found.

Coral reefs provide shelter to thousands of marine organisms. Rising levels of carbon dioxide and ocean temperature are threatening the existence of these beautiful “forests of oceans.”

A new study from Tel Aviv University researchers and colleagues has shown that soft corals can resist the harmful effects of decreasing pH in the ocean.

The research is published in the journal PLOS One.

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Answers on acidification should be prizeworthy

At a time when just about every issue has polarized the parties in Congress, two Western Washington representatives have found some common ground: Both see a desperate need to find answers to questions about ocean acidification.

Turning back the hands of time is impractical; carbon emissions related to fossil fuel use are already creating acidic conditions in the world’s waters, which absorb carbon dioxide.

That isn’t expected to change in the near future. So U.S. Reps. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, and Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, are proposing legislation that would spur researchers to work on issues surrounding acidification and its impacts, which are already being felt in their congressional districts.

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A modest pledge makes a big difference for ocean acidification research and collaboration

Taylor Shellfish in Shelton,, WA

By Barbara Kinney

Despite this week’s excited headlines about ocean research and conservation during Secretary Kerry’s “Our Oceans” conference, you still might have missed Prince Albert of Monaco’s Monday announcement that the U.S. State Department and Department of Energy have pledged a total of $640,000 to the Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre (OA-ICC), based at the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA’s) Monaco lab.

This is great news for ocean acidification research and decision-making around the world. The OA-ICC engages scientists in international collaborative research, education, and advice to policymakers. For example, the OA-ICC and its partners have put out several informational brochures for the public in many languages about ocean acidification, and OA-ICC-affiliated scientists have presented at high-level international events like this week’s “Our Oceans” conference and the past five sessions of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties. But the OA-ICC’s best known activity among specialists is their news stream, which is a thoughtfully-curated daily feed (available by email, Twitter, or RSS) about ocean acidification news stories, research outcomes, opportunities, and educational materials. The OA-ICC gets a lot done for a small price tag.

Continue reading ‘A modest pledge makes a big difference for ocean acidification research and collaboration’

Ocean acidification (CLIM 043) – European Environment Agency assessment, June 2014

The European Environment Agency (EEA) has recently issued an assessment on ocean acidification, with a temporal coverage for collected data from 1998 to 2100. The assessment tries to address a major policy question: what is the trend in the acidity of ocean water? Some of the key messages comprised in the assessment refer to: the pace at which ocean acidification is currently occurring; the impact on marine organisms and, respectively, ecosystems and fisheries; the most affected parts of the world ocean and decreasing pH of deep ocean waters, particularly in the high latitudes. The assessment gives an overview of the past trends and presents several future projections, while also emphasizing the terms of the prospective recovery from human-induced acidification.

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Can coral save our oceans? Researchers discover soft coral tissue may help protect reefs

Coral reefs are home to a rich and diverse ecosystem, providing a habitat for a wide range of marine animals. But the increasing acidification of ocean water is jeopardizing the calcified foundations of these reefs, endangering the survival of thousands upon thousands of resident species.

New research by Prof. Yehuda Benayahu, Dr. Zehava Barkay, Prof. Maoz Fine, and their jointly supervised graduate student Yasmin Gabay of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Zoology, Wolfson Applied Materials Research Center and the Interuniversity Institute for Marine Sciences in Eilat has uncovered the protective properties of soft coral tissue, which proved resilient when exposed to declining oceanic pH levels. The study, published in PLOS One, provides insight into the changing face of coral reefs threatened by dropping oceanic pH levels and may provide a new approach toward preserving the harder, calcified reef foundations.

Continue reading ‘Can coral save our oceans? Researchers discover soft coral tissue may help protect reefs’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book