Archive for the 'Media coverage' Category

Acidification of the oceans poses a future challenge to marine life

Acidification of the Oceans Poses a Future Challenge to Marine Life

Oysters that survive and grow in waters with high levels of acidity develop a smaller and brittle shell that breaks more easily.

This consequence of climate change has a great impact on the marine flora and fauna and puts at risk the future of one of the most appreciated seafood: oysters.

One of the lesser-known consequences of climate change is the increase in the levels of water acidity in seas and oceans, with a great impact on marine flora and fauna and which jeopardizes the future of one of the most valued seafood: oysters.

“Oysters, like the rest of the bivalve molluscs, use calcium and carbonate to make their shells. The acidification of the water makes this process difficult and causes the small oysters to die before the shell can be built, “explained Professor of Planetary Sciences at the University of California at Davis, Tessa Michelle Hill.

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Ocean acidification: the other carbon dioxide problem (video)

Large amounts of carbon dioxide produced by fossil fuels are being absorbed into the world’s oceans, according to NOAA. “This change in the ocean’s chemistry will have profound effects on life in the ocean, and those who depend on it,” NOAA says.

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More acidic seas devour marine food web

As more acidic seas spread across the globe, conditions for survival start to change. That could close vast volumes of ocean for vital forms of life.

By the close of the century, parts of the Southern Ocean could become impoverished as more acidic seas displace abundant marine food resources. Tiny sea snails that form the basis of the food supply for one of the world’s richest ecosystems could disappear because the depth at which they can form their shells will have shifted.

Right now, in Antarctic waters, creatures known as pteropods can exploit the calcium carbonate dissolved in the oceans down to a depth of 1000 metres to grow their shells.

But as atmospheric carbon dioxide levels soar, as a consequence of profligate use of fossil fuels by humankind, the chemistry of the oceans will shift towards the acidic.

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Bill aims to protect waterways, addresses ocean acidification

Coast Seafoods is just one of the aquaculture businesses on Humboldt Bay that is directly affected by water quality issues. A new state bill could implement new rules that will address water quality on waterways across the state. (Times-Standard file)

A bill introduced by a state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) that will address ocean acidification and water quality issues has been introduced and it’s being supported by a wide variety of stakeholders.

Senate Bill 69, authored by Wiener, is aimed at reducing land-based sources of pollutants, the restoration of wetlands and the sequestration of greenhouse gases and to protect wildlife and keystone species.

The bill specifically addresses timber harvest practices with an aim to limit the amount of sediment that flows into local rivers and streams and which then impacts the quality of water for bays and the ocean.

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Finally, Rep. Pingree optimistic about bill to address ocean acidification

After years of inaction, Congress appears poised to direct federal authorities to assess the risk posed to coastal communities and fishing and aquaculture interests by ocean acidification, a byproduct of global warming that represents a potentially catastrophic threat to harvesters in Maine.

Rep. Chellie Pingree, the Democrat representing Maine’s 1st District, reintroduced a bill Thursday directing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to work with state and local experts to assess the likely impacts of acidification on coastal communities and identify gaps in knowledge.

The bill, first introduced more than three years ago, never received so much as a hearing while Republicans controlled the U.S. House, despite bipartisan support, including that of then-Rep. Bruce Poliquin, the Republican from Maine’s 2nd District. With Democrats now in the majority, Pingree is bullish on the bill’s prospects.

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Why it matters: carbon uptake and the Southern Ocean

The Southern Ocean is critical for controlling how much CO2 is in the atmosphere, but as the water absorbs more carbon it becomes more acidic—and that could affect the health of a lot of organisms.

The Antarctic ecosystem plays a critical role in balancing the global climate. Scientists estimate that about a billion tons of carbon are absorbed by the Southern Ocean each year—that’s about 40% of the entire ocean uptake, but only about 20% of the surface area. Carbon uptake is the process by which the oceans (or plants and forests) absorb carbon. An area that absorbs a relatively large amount of carbon is called a sink.

Burning fossil fuels creates carbon dioxide. When carbon dioxide dissolves in seawater, the carbon is pushed down into the deep ocean, away from contact with the atmosphere, while the oxygen provides critical nutrients for production. But as the amount of carbon increases in seawater, the acidity of the water also increases. Ocean acidification affects the water chemistry, which could, in turn, affect a lot of organisms, from phytoplankton, coral, and krill to fish and marine mammals.

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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.”

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OA-ICC HIGHLIGHTS

Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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