Research buoy raises red flags about San Francisco Bay’s health (text and video)

A research buoy anchored off the San Francisco waterfront is raising red flags when it comes to the levels of carbon dioxide in the air we breath.

Once a year, researchers pull the buoy out of the water and analyze the data it has gathered.

“So when it comes up, you get a sense of all the life that’s in the Bay that we normally don’t get to see but here it is,” said Mary Miller, Exploratorium Environmental Science Partnership Director. “It’s right in front of us.”

Data collected by buoys near Hawaii reveal CO2 levels in the north Pacific. The latest readings show those readings are now up to more than 400 parts per million.

The buoy in the Bay reveals CO2 readings in the local air at about 412 parts per million.

“What were seeing is that it’s going up over time and as a matter fact, carbon dioxide here in San Francisco is higher than in most places,” Miller said.

Researchers say the carbon dioxide measurements are higher because of cars, trucks and industries nearby that emit carbon dioxide. The CO2 levels in the water are even higher.

Those higher concentrations are causing what scientists call “ocean acidification”. The increases in carbon dioxide actually change the chemistry of the water, making it more acidic. As a result, it makes it harder for shellfish and certain fish to survive which scientists say will eventually cause drastic affects to the San Francisco Bay food chain and marine ecosystem.


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