Archive for the 'Media coverage' Category

This aquatic grass could help shellfish threatened by ocean acidification (video)

An increase in carbon emissions are showing up not only in the air, but also in water. Now researchers and shellfish farmers are teaming up to see how marine plants can help stave off the effects of ocean acidification. Special correspondent Jes Burns of Oregon Public Broadcasting reports.

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Brief: better living through tide pools

Image credits: Vadim Nefedoff via Shutterstock

Algae and seaweed blooms in Greenland’s vast network of Arctic tidal pools offer shelter for some animals from an acidifying ocean.

Many mussels, sea snails and other animals with calcium carbonate shells can’t get the chemicals they need to build their chalky exteriors because of the ocean’s changing chemistry, which has been acidifying in the last century due to carbon dioxide released in the atmosphere. In chilly Arctic waters, which absorb even more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than those in more moderate latitudes, the challenge to mollusks is that much greater.

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Buffering sensitivity

Ocean chemistry is changing due to higher levels of CO2 affecting the carbonate system through alterations in carbonate, bicarbonate and…

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Protecting our estuaries: new bill calls for a closer look at environmental stressors in estuarine environments

Healthy estuaries support the vitality and livelihoods of coastal communities. We gather with friends at estuaries to go fishing, kayak and spend quality time with each other. But we don’t always show estuaries as much love as they show us.

In college, I spent my days staring into my microscope at what can only be described as other-worldly – tiny stars, sunburst shaped disks and alien-like critters. I was examining plankton collected from a nearby estuary—these microscopic larvae would grow up to be crabs and oysters, which spend the beginning of their lifecycle in estuaries, the nurseries of the ocean. Estuaries provide essential habitat for marine life, including over 75% of commercially caught fish in the United States, and support recreational fisheries too.

Beginning my science career at The Evergreen State College, I was fascinated by the natural world. After graduating, I wanted to figure out how to use my science to help communities impacted by environmental challenges. This led me to apply to the Roger Arliner Young Marine Conservation Diversity Fellowship on the ocean acidification team at Ocean Conservancy. The position gave me the opportunity to learn exactly how science can help inform public policy. One of my cornerstone projects for the fellowship has been examining the impact of ocean acidification in estuaries, and how ocean acidification interacts with other environmental stressors and processes

Located near densely populated areas, estuaries are influenced by both human and environmental stressors. Impacts like nitrogen run-off can often lead to harmful algal blooms (HABs), which are dangerous for people and fish. Also, ocean acidification has been measured in the open ocean, but it’s much harder to detect in estuaries and coastal zones because of converging processes like pollution, erosion and upwelling. If scientists can’t precisely measure how water chemistry is changing in these ecosystems, the effects are difficult to prepare for. Adding even more complexity, estuaries themselves are constantly changing as freshwater meets saltwater, tides rise and fall and species change seasonally. We simply don’t know yet how all of these factors influence each other in estuarine environments.

Continue reading ‘Protecting our estuaries: new bill calls for a closer look at environmental stressors in estuarine environments’

Ocean acidification: coral core reveals dropping pH values in South Pacific

Our oceans absorb more than 40% of the anthropogenic greenhouse gas CO2 from the atmosphere, which leads to a drop in the pH value of the seawater. Until recently, reliable long-term measurements and historical data to illustrate the influence of CO2 uptake on the pH value of the seas have been insufficient. A team of scientists has now analysed a coral core to show how the pH value in the Southern Pacific has changed since pre-industrial times. The study was published in the journal “Nature Communications”.

  Taking the core from a coral in the South Pacific.
Photo: John Butscher, IRD-Centre de Noumea, New Caledonia

Burning of fossil fuels, deforestation of tropical rain forests and mangroves are only some of the man-made causes leading to an increase of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Earth’s atmosphere. Oceans are functioning as sinks for CO2 and absorb more than 40% of anthropogenic greenhouse gases.

 

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Saving the planet

Art is an ideal way to communicate climate imperatives in digestible chunks, Pam McKinlay says. Bruce Munro talks to the Dunedin artist and curator ahead of the family-focused art expo “Oku Moana”. 

Pam McKinlay is saving the planet, not one, but a dozen interactive art works at a time.

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‘Electrogeochemistry’ captures carbon, produces fuel, offsets ocean acidification

Credit: © Francesco Scatena / Fotolia

A new study evaluates the potential for recently described methods that capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through an “electrogeochemical” process that also generates hydrogen gas for use as fuel and creates by-products that can help counteract ocean acidification.

Limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius will require not only reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, but also active removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This conclusion from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has prompted heightened interest in “negative emissions technologies.”

A new study published June 25 in Nature Climate Change evaluates the potential for recently described methods that capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through an “electrogeochemical” process that also generates hydrogen gas for use as fuel and creates by-products that can help counteract ocean acidification.

First author Greg Rau, a researcher in the Institute of Marine Sciences at UC Santa Cruz and visiting scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, said this technology significantly expands the options for negative emissions energy production.

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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