Archive for the 'Media coverage' Category

Our oceans are becoming more acidic – what it means for marine life and what you can do

Oceans cover 70 percent of the earth’s surface and account for 97 percent of its water. They play a vital role in the natural carbon cycle and provides a home for over one million species of plants and animals, with another estimated nine million living in the depths left unexplored by humans. Billions of people rely on the ocean’s rich diversity of resources for survival, and its picturesque beauty provides a calming refuge and source of recreation for people around the world.

Plastic trash and other forms of pollution have turned the once pristine waters into a toxin-filled soup, but that’s not the only threat our oceans and marine life are facing. The earth’s levels of carbon dioxide, which the ocean absorbs from the atmosphere as part of the natural carbon cycle, have increased significantly. The excess carbon is lowering the pH levels of the oceans, causing acidification that is killing off coral reefs and threatening fish and other marine life.

Continue reading ‘Our oceans are becoming more acidic – what it means for marine life and what you can do’

Acidifying oceans favor sea vermin

Scientists predict that in the next twenty years, the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in our atmosphere will rise from the roughly 404 ppm it is now to over 450 ppm—and as a result, ecosystems worldwide will change. Many impacts will be particularly felt in our planet’s oceans. As atmospheric COlevels rise, more of the gas dissolves into our seas, causing a chemical chain reaction which makes the water more acidic. Acidification can act independently or synergistically with rising temperatures, impacting different species in different ways. In a desperate rush to conserve species, scientists are racing against the clock to understand how marine habitats and the species that live in them will be affected by acidification and identify the best ways to retain our marine biodiversity going forward.

The bulk of the research on acidification to date has focused on reef-building corals, and rightfully so, as these reef-producing species are the foundation of some of the richest ecosystems on Earth. But reefs aren’t the only prolific habitats in the sea, and corals certainly aren’t the only species that changing water chemistry will affect. Lab-based studies have found that all kinds of organisms, including fish, are sometimes affected by acidified waters, but how these individual impacts on species translates to ecosystem-level effects is less clear. So to understand how acidification might impact fish communities, a team of scientists led by Professor Ivan Nagelkerken, a marine ecologist in the University of Adelaide’s Environment Institute, turned to natural laboratories.

Continue reading ‘Acidifying oceans favor sea vermin’

Snow Dragon to assess acidification of Arctic Ocean

The Chinese icebreaker Xuelong, or Snow Dragon, will set sail on Thursday for a research mission to discover the extent of acidification in the Arctic Ocean.

It is internationally acknowledged that acidification — mainly caused by carbon dioxide emissions into the sea — is rising in the ocean and already covers a larger area, according to Xu Ren, deputy director of the Polar Research Institute of China.

“It may trigger environmental disasters and affect marine biodiversity,” he said at a media briefing on Tuesday. “Ocean acidification is a major issue facing the international community, along with global warming and marine pollution.

Continue reading ‘Snow Dragon to assess acidification of Arctic Ocean’

The future of ocean exploration (video)

A mini-documentary exploring the amazing future of oceanographic discovery, featuring biofluorescent sharks, deep sea mining, seafloor vents, ROV’s (remote operated vehicles), and the disturbing effects of ocean acidification.

(Part on ocean acidification starts at 5.30 and ends at 8.07).


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Mote study finds ocean acidification can slow coral disease (text and audio)

Warming temperatures and ocean acidification are significant threats to coral reefs, but a new study by Mote Marine Laboratory researchers last month provides something of a silver lining.   Researchers found that ocean acidification could actually help slow the progression of a disease that kills corals.

The study was published in June in the Public Library of Science Journal One (PLOS ONE). It explores the effects of ocean acidification, or decreasing pH levels, on the harmful growth of black band disease on hard corals.  Black Band is a bacterium that affects more than 40 coral species worldwide.

Continue reading ‘Mote study finds ocean acidification can slow coral disease (text and audio)’

Kelp as the new kale, and a possible carbon fix

“Blue carbon” is a term you might be hearing more often. It refers to marine vegetation that has an inherent ability to sequester carbon and mitigate the consequences of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

Vegetated coastal habitats including seagrass meadows, mangrove forests and tidal marshes were the first to be labeled as blue carbon. These marine photosynthesizers take up CO2 from the surrounding seawater and sequester carbon in the plants and the sediments below them, similar to terrestrial forests, but far more effectively.

Continue reading ‘Kelp as the new kale, and a possible carbon fix’

CO2 benefits the “rats and cockroaches” of marine world

Ocean acidification may be driving a cascade of changes that drains marine biodiversity

Beneath the waves, swelling levels of carbon dioxide could be boosting some species to ecological dominance while dooming others.

A study published yesterday in Current Biology suggests ocean acidification is driving a cascading set of behavioral and environmental changes that drains oceans’ biodiversity. Niche species and intermediate predators suffer at the expense of a handful of aggressive species.

Continue reading ‘CO2 benefits the “rats and cockroaches” of marine world’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book