Archive for May, 2015

What is ocean acidification and how will it impact on marine life?

Ocean acidification refers to the increasing acidity levels of the world’s oceans. This is due to human activity.

Human activities such as burning fossil fuels have increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by about 40%1 above pre-industrial levels. Carbon dioxide levels are now unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years.

The world’s oceans are important carbon sinks, absorbing around 30%2 of the additional carbon dioxide emissions every year. This slows the rate at which carbon dioxide levels are rising in the atmosphere, but it is also changing the chemistry of the oceans. (…)

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Public lecture in The Next Wave series: “Ocean Acidification – A Global Problem with Local Impacts”, UCLA, 25 August 2015

Date & time: Tuesday, 25 August, 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm

Location: UCLA Hammer Museum – Billy Wilder Theater

Over the past two centuries, atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations have dramatically increased, leading to sea rise, global warming and ocean acidification. Dr. Richard Feely, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, addresses consequences of an acidifying ocean, and whether there is anything we can do to make a difference.

The Next Wave: Quality, Quantity, and Accessibility of Water in the 21st Century Throughout 2015 the Hammer and the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability explore the most pressing issues surrounding the current and future state of water.

Continue reading ‘Public lecture in The Next Wave series: “Ocean Acidification – A Global Problem with Local Impacts”, UCLA, 25 August 2015’

Post-doctoral Researcher in Coral Reef Biogeochemistry, Southern Cross University, Australia

Deadline for applications: 17 June 2015!

Open to Australian and international applicants

The Centre for Coastal Biogeochemistry, Southern Cross University is looking for a post-doctoral researcher to contribute to our coral reef biogeochemistry program. The ARC funded position will be offered for up to 3 years, with the possibility of a further fixed term contract dependent upon performance and additional external funding being available.

The successful applicant would be responsible for the planning and implementation of field and laboratory work, data analysis, synthesis and interpretation, preparation of manuscripts for submission for publication in refereed journals, preparation of reports to funding sources e.g. ARC, preparation of funding proposals, and assistance, as appropriate, in supervising undergraduate and/or postgraduate students undertaking research projects within this larger program.

Applicants must have a PhD in a relevant field such as biogeochemistry, environmental chemistry or closely related and experience in carbonate geochemistry. Experience with coral reefs, benthic chambers, stable isotope biogeochemistry, electronic field equipment, continuous high-density data sets from automated instrumentation and modelling would also be an advantage. Applicants should be highly motivated, enthusiastic and have a strong desire to publish in high impact journals.

Continue reading ‘Post-doctoral Researcher in Coral Reef Biogeochemistry, Southern Cross University, Australia’

Specialists express serious concerns about the possible impacts of Ocean Acidification on OECS Economies

Specialists are expressing serious concerns about the possible impacts of ocean acidification on OECS economies.This is among the comments at an unprecedented meeting on OECS Ocean Acidification which opened in Saint Lucia on Tuesday.

The early morning session of the meeting demonstrated the effects of acidification on the region’s precious coral reefs during an exaggerated experiment of the destruction of a sea shell when it was placed in a beaker with acid. As the shell quickly dissolved the chemical reaction wowed the capacity packed conference room into an extended and repeated call for international support regarding the impacts of climate change.  Rachal Allen, a research specialist at the University of the West Indies stated that ocean acidification can harm the essential industries of Agriculture and Tourism as well as associated livelihoods in the OECS.

Continue reading ‘Specialists express serious concerns about the possible impacts of Ocean Acidification on OECS Economies’

Green Party leader says the fight has been ‘frustrating’

Green Party leader Elizabeth May said we need a government that’s “excellent” not just “better than awful” to save Vancouver Island from environmental threats like ocean acidification.

May spoke to a room of 115 at the VIU Deep Bay Marine Field Station Friday evening during a recent campaign tour event with Green Party candidate Glenn Sollitt.

“Ocean acidification is not nearly talked about enough in this country,” said May. “We’ve changed the chemistry of the atmosphere through burning fossil fuels so the increase in concentration of carbon dioxide would be much higher if not for the fact that so much carbon dioxide is going into the oceans.”

She said the coastline of Vancouver Island is one of the hardest hit areas. “It’s worse in colder waters so as the carbonic acid is formed it occurs much more in colder waters.”

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Washington Ocean Acidification Center 2015 Science Symposium, 26 June 2015

Please register before 21 June 2015!

The Washington Ocean Acidification Center invites you to attend our 2015 Science Symposium on 26 June 2015 at the University of Washington Center for Urban Horticulture in Seattle, WA.

This day-long symposium will consist of invited presentations from regional experts. Presentations will focus on new results from field observations, biological experiments, modeling and forecasting, and other research relevant to ocean acidification in Washington waters. Presentations will be followed by plenary discussions of emerging science and critical information gaps.

Poster contributions from the OA research community are welcome. If you plan to contribute a poster, please indicate the title on the registration form.

This symposium will offer plenty of opportunities to enhance communications and strengthen regional communities of practice.

Continue reading ‘Washington Ocean Acidification Center 2015 Science Symposium, 26 June 2015’

Juvenile Atlantic cod behavior appears robust to near-future CO2 levels

Ocean acidification caused by the anthropogenic release of CO2 is considered a major threat to marine ecosystems. One unexpected impact of elevated water CO2 levels is that behavioral alterations may occur in tropical reef fish and certain temperate fish species. These effects appear to alter many different types of sensory and cognitive functions; if widespread and persistent, they have the potential to cause ecosystem changes.

We investigated whether economically and ecologically important Atlantic cod also display behavioral abnormalities by exposing 52 juvenile cod to control conditions (500 μatm, duplicate tanks) or an end-of-the-century ocean acidification scenario (1000 μatm, duplicate tanks) for one month, during which time the fish were examined for a range of behaviors that have been reported to be affected by elevated CO2 in other fish. The behaviors were swimming activity, as measured by number of lines crossed per minute, the emergence from shelter, determined by how long it took the fish to exit a shelter after a disturbance, relative lateralization (a measure of behavioral turning side preference), and absolute lateralization (the strength of behavioral symmetry).

We found no effect of CO2 treatment on any of the four behaviors tested: activity (F = 1.61, p = 0.33), emergence from shelter (F = 0.13, p = 0.76), relative lateralization (F = 2.82, p = 0.50), and absolute lateralization (F = 0.80, p = 0.26).

Our results indicate that the behavior of Atlantic cod could be resilient to the impacts of near-future levels of water CO2.

Continue reading ‘Juvenile Atlantic cod behavior appears robust to near-future CO2 levels’

Altered neurotransmitter function in CO2-exposed stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus): a temperate model species for ocean acidification research

Studies on the consequences of ocean acidification for the marine ecosystem have revealed behavioural changes in coral reef fishes exposed to sustained near-future CO2 levels. The changes have been linked to altered function of GABAergic neurotransmitter systems, because the behavioural alterations can be reversed rapidly by treatment with the GABAA receptor antagonist gabazine. Characterization of the molecular mechanisms involved would be greatly aided if these can be examined in a well-characterized model organism with a sequenced genome. It was recently shown that CO2-induced behavioural alterations are not confined to tropical species, but also affect the three-spined stickleback, although an involvement of the GABAA receptor was not examined. Here, we show that loss of lateralization in the stickleback can be restored rapidly and completely by gabazine treatment. This points towards a worrying universality of disturbed GABAA function after high-CO2 exposure in fishes from tropical to temperate marine habitats. Importantly, the stickleback is a model species with a sequenced and annotated genome, which greatly facilitates future studies on underlying molecular mechanisms.

Continue reading ‘Altered neurotransmitter function in CO2-exposed stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus): a temperate model species for ocean acidification research’

Oceans and Earth’s habitability

On 8 June, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) celebrates World Oceans Day, a fitting occasion to remind ourselves of the essential role of the oceans in making Earth a habitable planet. We have had an official day of celebration for the oceans only since December 2008. In contrast, Earth Day has been celebrated every year since 1970. Conceived by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson in the aftermath of the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill, Earth Day became a focus for the growing environmental movement (it became an international event in 1990) and the catalyst that led to the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts in the United States. Imagine what might be accomplished if World Oceans Day could similarly inspire actions for improving the state of the oceans worldwide.(…)

It is not just excess heat that the oceans absorb. As CO2 is released to the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels, about a quarter is absorbed by the ocean, lowering its pH. Since the start of the Industrial Revolution, ocean acidity has increased by 30%, with negative repercussions for many organisms, including those that build their shells from calcium carbonate minerals. Such organisms are essential links in marine food webs and the foundation for very profitable fisheries. As the oceans become more saturated with CO2, their ability to mitigate the buildup of CO2 in the atmosphere by absorbing it will decrease, and greenhouse warming will accelerate.

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The effect of ocean acidification on the organic complexation of iron and copper

Trace metal biogeochemistry is projected to be affected by ocean acidification. The understanding of the effects is of particular interest, as trace metals such as Fe and Cu are known for their significant biological roles. Dissolved Fe and Cu in seawater occur predominantly in the form of metal organic complexes. This thesis has investigated the influence that ocean acidification may have on the chemical forms (speciation) of dissolved Fe and Cu in seawater, focusing on their organic complexation, in order to provide a first insight into the possible future changes in their cycling and bioavailability. Competitive Ligand Exchange Adsorptive Cathodic Stripping Voltammetry (CLE-ACSV) was used as an analytical technique throughout this PhD work to determine Fe and Cu organic binding ligand characteristics. Organic Fe complexation was determined at current seawater pH in the high latitude North Atlantic (HLNA), which is an area of climate interest due to the importance of iron limitation on phytoplankton productivity and hence the carbon cycle. Main findings indicate that iron biogeochemistry in surface and subsurface waters of the HLNA is controlled by a combination of phytoplankton iron uptake and microbial iron binding ligand production, whilst in deep waters ligand saturation was evident, suggesting that additional Fe would be removed by scavenging or precipitation. The effect of ocean acidification on organic complexation of Fe and Cu was determined in the northwest European shelf seas, during the first UK Ocean Acidification consortium programme research cruise. Results suggested that a decrease in surface ocean pH will potentially result in a reduction of the free and inorganic metal fraction (Fe’), and also in an increase in the organically complexed iron fraction. Direct impacts on Fe bioavailability, however, are difficult to quantify, as the overall iron solubility, and hence its bioavailability, is controlled by the interrelationship between inorganic solubility, organic complexation, redox chemistry, and phytoplankton-trace metal feedback mechanisms. No significant effects were observed of a decrease in pH on the organically complexed Cu (II) fraction, or on the overall free and inorganically bound fraction (Cu’). Consequently, it is not clear so far whether Cu ligand production will be affected by ocean acidification, or the possible effects on its toxicity. In addition, surface water trace metal distribution in the northwest European shelf seas was assessed. Dissolved metal concentrations of Cd, Cu, Fe, Ni and Zn appeared to be significantly influenced by riverine inputs in the study area; whereas surface seawater pH was not evident as a controlling factor. The diversity of the chemical and biological processes controlling Fe and Cu biogeochemistry, and the way in which they will be altered by ocean acidification, is likely to be complex.

Continue reading ‘The effect of ocean acidification on the organic complexation of iron and copper’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book