Archive for the 'Media coverage' Category

Lobster experiments help predict future for $1B fishery

St. Andrews Biological Station scientists are studying effects of climate on lobster eggs and offspring

Researchers in Saint Andrews are trying to predict how climate change will affect the future for lobster by manipulating the conditions they face in several experimental tanks.

More than 100 female lobsters are undergoing a range of experiments at the St. Andrews Biological Station.

In a dark, buzzing room, three Department of Fisheries and Oceans researchers are mirroring potential changes lobsters will face with changes in ocean temperature and acidification and with diet limitations.

Continue reading ‘Lobster experiments help predict future for $1B fishery’

As oceans acidify, shellfish farmers respond

Scientists collaborate to mitigate climate impacts in the Northwest

Taylor Shellfish Farm’s Quilcene hatchery perches on a narrow peninsula that juts into the sinuous waterways of Washington’s Puget Sound. On the July day I visited, the hatchery and everything surrounding it seemed to drip with fecundity. Clouds banked over darkly forested hills on the opposite shore, and a tangy breeze blew in from across the bay. But the lushness hid an ecosystem’s unraveling.

Climate change is altering the very chemistry of surface seawater, causing ocean acidification, a chemical process that is lowering the amount of calcium marine organisms can access. Acidification is a relative term; the oceans are not actually turning into acid and will not melt surfboards or sea turtles anytime soon. Still, with enough acidification, seawater becomes corrosive to some organisms. Hardest hit are calcifiers, which use aragonite, a form of the mineral calcium carbonate, to make shells, skeletons and other important body parts. Examples of calcifiers include crabs, sea urchins, sea stars, some seaweeds, reef-forming corals, and a type of tiny floating marine snail, or pteropod, called a sea butterfly. Shellfish, including oysters and clams, are also seriously affected. With the disappearance of many of these sea creatures, oceanic food webs will be irrevocably altered by century’s end.

Continue reading ‘As oceans acidify, shellfish farmers respond’

Alaska ferry to host long-distance ocean acidification study (audio)

The Alaska Marine Highway System ferry Columbia will be part of an international science experiment starting this fall when it resumes its weekly run between Bellingham, Wash., and Southeast Alaska.

Equipment has been installed to continuously measure the ocean’s acidity along the ferry’s nearly 2,000-mile route. The goal is to better understand how acidification affects regional fisheries.

Continue reading ‘Alaska ferry to host long-distance ocean acidification study (audio)’

Box jellyfish will destroy future oceans by gobbling up the food

As the oceans become more acidic, box jellyfish may start eating a lot more. Their greedy appetites could have a huge impact on marine ecosystems.

Some of the carbon dioxide we release is dissolving in the oceans, where it becomes carbonic acid – making the oceans less alkaline and more acidic. Scientists are scrambling to identify which species will be most impacted.

They are particularly concerned about organisms that play pivotal roles in marine food webs, because if they disappear, entire ecosystems may collapse.

Continue reading ‘Box jellyfish will destroy future oceans by gobbling up the food’

Nancy Lord’s pH: a novel

Although Nancy Lord has been writing powerfully about our role in the destruction of our natural environment for a long while, this is the first full-length fiction by the famed Alaska naturalist and former Alaska Writer Laureate (2008-10).

Anyone interested in or concerned about climate change knows that in many ways, Alaska is ground zero in the United States. We’ve all seen photos on the web of the rotting permafrost, the starving polar bears, and the disappearing sea ice, but what Lord’s novel does is give compelling life to one of the most devastating and often unseen aspects of climate change: the acidification of the ocean. The title “pH” refers to the focus of the science at the heart of Lord’s novel: the rapid changes in pH in our waters indicating an increase in ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Nancy Lord’s pH: a novel’

Responses of neurogenesis and neuroplasticity related genes to elevated CO2 levels in the brain of three teleost species

The continuous increase of anthropogenic CO2 in the atmosphere resulting in ocean acidification has been reported to affect brain function in some fishes. During adulthood, cell proliferation is fundamental for fish brain growth and for it to adapt in response to external stimuli, such as environmental changes. Here we report the first expression study of genes regulating neurogenesis and neuroplasticity in brains of three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus), cinnamon anemonefish (Amphiprion melanopus) and spiny damselfish (Acanthochromis polyacanthus) exposed to elevated CO2. The mRNA expression levels of the neurogenic differentiation factor (NeuroD) and doublecortin (DCX) were upregulated in three-spined stickleback exposed to high-CO2 compared with controls, while no changes were detected in the other species. The mRNA expression levels of the proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) and the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) remained unaffected in the high-CO2 exposed groups compared to the control in all three species. These results indicate a species-specific regulation of genes involved in neurogenesis in response to elevated ambient CO2 levels. The higher expression of NeuroD and DCX mRNA transcripts in the brain of high-CO2–exposed three-spined stickleback, together with the lack of effects on mRNA levels in cinnamon anemonefish and spiny damselfish, indicate differences in coping mechanisms among fish in response to the predicted-future CO2 level.

Continue reading ‘Responses of neurogenesis and neuroplasticity related genes to elevated CO2 levels in the brain of three teleost species’

Teachers tackle ocean acidification with Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary

Ocean acidification can be a daunting topic to cover in the classroom, but for Washington state’s coastal communities, the issue is often personal.

In 2005, billions of oysters died along the Northwest coast, and NOAA scientist Richard Feely and other North American scientists have linked this and other shellfish die-offs deaths to falling ocean pH. According to Washington State’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification, Washington’s ocean waters are specifically susceptible to ocean acidification because of coastal upwelling. This brings water that is low in pH and rich in carbon dioxide up from the deep ocean and onto the continental shelf. Ocean acidification, also exacerbated by nutrient runoff and local carbon emissions, threatens Washington’s marine environment, the state and local economies, and tribes.

Continue reading ‘Teachers tackle ocean acidification with Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book