Southeast Alaska vulnerable to ocean acidification

Southeast Alaska is poised to be among the first regions in the world affected by ocean acidification.

The Alaska Ocean Acidification Network hosted a public presentation Wednesday about the phenomenon that is making ocean water more acidic, and Alaska scientists explained why Southeast is likely to be impacted more quickly than other parts of the world.

Ocean acidification occurs when water absorbs carbon dioxide, which causes the water to become more acidic, and Southeast Alaska waters are uniquely positioned to be particularly susceptible to it, said Jessica Cross, an oceanographer for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center.

“There’s a couple of reasons for that,” Cross said. “One of them is glacial discharge. The second reason Southeast Alaska is more vulnerable to ocean acidification than other areas around the state is because of the communities themselves. When we talk about OA risk, we’re very interested in communities that rely on threatened species or threatened marine resources for economic value, cultural perspectives or subsistence food sources.”

Also, Cross said there are a few factors that make the water in the area naturally more acidic.

“I like to say Alaska waters are old and cold,” Cross said after the presentation.

Ben Hohenstatt, Saving Seafood, 22 February 2019. Article.

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