Archive for the 'Media coverage' Category

Acidification et réchauffement extrêmement rapides en Méditerranée nord-occidentale (in French)

Ayant analysé une série temporelle de haute fréquence acquise dans la rade de Villefranche-sur-Mer, des chercheurs du Laboratoire d’océanographie de Villefranche (LOV/OOV, UPMC / CNRS) et de l’Institut des relations internationales et du développement durable (Sciences Po, Paris) ont mis en évidence les changements très rapides qu’a connu l’eau de mer dans cette région entre 2007 et 2015. L’augmentation de la température y a été plus rapide que partout ailleurs dans l’océan global et celle de son acidité l’une des plus élevées jamais mesurées dans l’océan. En conséquence, plusieurs organismes sont affectés, ce qui pourrait altérer la chaîne alimentaire méditerranéenne.

Les mers et océans sont affectés de multiples manières par les activités humaines. Il est bien établi que les rejets de gaz carbonique (CO2) par les activités humaines entraînent un réchauffement. Environ 25 % de ces rejets sont absorbés par l’océan, soit 26 millions de tonnes de CO2. Cela permet de limiter les changements climatiques, mais au prix d’un bouleversement de la chimie de l’eau de mer, notamment une augmentation de son acidité.

Continue reading ‘Acidification et réchauffement extrêmement rapides en Méditerranée nord-occidentale (in French)’

The hunt for a super coral: can cold-water corals adapt to ocean acidification?

When most people think of a coral reef they are imagining a sunny tropical beach, but many coral species are actually found in the dark, cold waters of the deep sea. These corals, commonly known as cold-water corals due to their preference for low temperatures, form beautiful ecosystems that are teeming with life. One of the largest threats to these slow-growing and fragile ecosystems is ocean acidification, the gradual reduction in the pH of our oceans caused by the excess carbon dioxide humans emit into the atmosphere. By the year 2100, it is expected that over 70% of stony corals in the deep sea will live in waters that are so acidic that they may corrode corals and make it difficult or even impossible for them to form hard skeletons.

In a previous publication scientists from Marine Conservation Institute and Temple University showed that cold-water corals in different ocean basins had completely opposite responses to ocean acidification, suggesting some populations may be much more resilient to climate change. What about individual corals within a population – could they also exhibit different responses? Enter the hunt for a ‘super coral’, corals with a genetic makeup that render them more resilient to ocean acidification. In an increasingly acidic ocean super corals would have higher survival and reproductive rates, and over many generations would comprise an increasingly large portion of the population. If these super corals already exist in the deep sea, there is a chance that cold-water coral populations may be able to adapt quickly enough to survive in the face of climate change.

Continue reading ‘The hunt for a super coral: can cold-water corals adapt to ocean acidification?’

World gone sour: the impact of CO2 emissions

You’re no doubt familiar with the ongoing and highly contentious political debate on the connection between carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and climate change. But as we battle over greenhouse gases in the air, we overlook an equally serious problem: the increasing acidity of our oceans.

Little known by the public, the impact of CO2 emissions on our oceans is called ocean acidification.

Not all of the carbon dioxide emitted by human industrial activities remains in the atmosphere. In fact, about one-third of the CO2 released as a result of the burning of fossil fuels (like coal, oil and natural gas) currently ends up in the ocean. The ocean is the largest natural carbon sink on Earth; in other words, it acts as a reservoir, accumulating and storing carbon. This reduces the CO2 build-up in our atmosphere, but it also comes at a considerable price.

As ocean waters absorb CO2, the water becomes more acidic. The acidity of global surface waters has increased by 30 percent over the course of the last two centuries—a rather staggering figure—and this rate of acidification is only expected to accelerate. This doesn’t mean that the oceans will become acid. What it means is that there may be catastrophic impacts to marine ecosystems within the next hundred years.

Continue reading ‘World gone sour: the impact of CO2 emissions’

Ocean acidification is global warming’s forgotten crisis

MOST us are familiar with the climate change impacts we see and feel in our communities: heatwaves, storms, droughts, floods, and so on.

But a UN meeting this week about climate change and oceans reminds us a related crisis is unfolding largely away public attention: the one-two punch of ocean warming and acidification.

With record temperatures sweeping over continents year after year, it is easy to overlook that the ocean has absorbed some 90% of the heat trapped by the carbon dioxide dumped into the atmosphere since the industrial revolution; and how much of that CO2 has dissolved into seawater as carbonic acid, altering its basic chemistry.

The UN meeting follows on the heels of a new secretary general report that investigates the impacts of these changes and the findings are concerning, to say the least.

The report describes record ocean temperatures pushing fish species toward cooler latitudes and out of reach of artisanal fishers; it documents widespread coral bleaching across the tropical belt and how most reefs could enter a state of permanent decline by 2040; it shows how ocean acidification has damaged a range of calcifying marine life, such as corals and shellfish; and it raises fears that the cumulative effects of the impacts are degrading phytoplankton, zooplankton, and krill, the foundation of the ocean’s food chain.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification is global warming’s forgotten crisis’

Our efforts paid off! Congress is investing in our ocean this year, but more support needed for 2018 (excerpts)

(…) This week, Congress released a late, but welcome, federal budget for 2017. It is a budget that reflects our ocean values, with investments in agencies like the National Ocean Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service. (…) The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) overall faces cuts under the new administration, with specific cuts proposed for Coastal Zone Management, Sea Grant and others.

Drumbeat of support

During the last 15 months, ocean champions ranging from business leaders to surfers and stay-at-home moms called their members of Congress, signed petitions and letters, shared their stories on Facebook and even hopped on flights to D.C. to meet with their senators in person. They talked about the importance of a healthy ocean to their lives and communities, as well as their jobs and their bottom line. (…)

Ocean acidification research will continue at current funding levels, supporting the on-the-water sensors and data that businesses, like shellfish harvesters, need to succeed in the face of changing oceans. (…)

Congress is paying attention, and they have heard from their constituents that cuts to ocean programs simply don’t have public support. (…)

Addie Haughey, Ocean Currents, 4 May 2017. Article.

MARINE MATTERS: Cork based Minister Michael Creed announces increased funding for cutting edge marine research (excerpts)

Michael Creed TD (Fine Gael), Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine was at the Marine Institute’s Dublin office today to meet some of the researchers who were successful in winning research funding through the Marine Research Measure. Minister Creed also announced the launch of a €2m Marine Equipment and Small Infrastructure Call 2017 which will open for applications tomorrow (Thursday 4th May) with awards of between €20,000 and €200,000. The specialist marine equipment and small infrastructure call aims to raise the performance of the marine research and innovation community across all areas by enabling the acquisition of specialist equipment.

An Ocean Acidification project led by NUI Galway was awarded €650,000 over four years. Dr Triona McGrath is the main researcher on this project with contributions from six leading Irish marine scientists. The project ‘Ocean acidification and biogeochemistry: variability, trends and vulnerability’ will address gaps in our current knowledge of the vulnerability of selected marine ecosystems in Irish waters to ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘MARINE MATTERS: Cork based Minister Michael Creed announces increased funding for cutting edge marine research (excerpts)’

Stark warning on health of oceans

A combination of acidification and global warming could be turning oceans toxic and threatens to destabilise the balance of marine life, say US marine scientists.

Ocean acidification and global warming between them could severely damage the health of the oceans.

They could block the biological process that delivers nitrogen in the seawater to nourish micro-organisms. They could spark growth among the invertebrates but cause stress higher up the food web to destabilise the balance of marine life. And they could even create conditions that would make great stretches of oceans toxic.

Toxic oceans

The first two are possibilities based on laboratory experiments and warn of what could happen as the world warms, the climates change and the chemistry of the oceans continues to become more acidic. But the third may already be happening.

Marine scientists from Stony Brook University in New York state report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that they looked at ocean temperature data and the growth of two of the most toxic algae in the North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans.

Continue reading ‘Stark warning on health of oceans’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book