Archive for the 'Media coverage' Category

Podcast: ocean acidification with Marina Washburn

Podcast: University of Alaska Fairbanks, “ocean acidification with Marina Washburn”

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Aquaculture and acidification: field testing the alpha SeapHOx V2

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Installing sensors on the South ORCA mooring. The SeapHOx V2 and a current meter were cabled to a battery and data logger, then installed through an opening on the mooring.

On the northern edge of Hood Canal, a major basin in Washington State’s Puget Sound, a patch of Saccharina latissima (also known as Sugar Kelp) is helping to identify if seaweed aquaculture can help combat ocean acidification. Started in 2015, this project is primarily funded by a $1.5 million grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. It is a collaborative effort led by the Puget Sound Restoration Fund in partnership with various collaborators, including the University of Washington and NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Lab.

In theory, the premise is straightforward—kelp such as Saccharina latissima harness carbon dioxide that would otherwise acidify the surrounding water, helping to mitigate the unwanted decreases in pH that result in ocean acidification. Whether this CO2 uptake is enough to reduce acidification on a wider scale, and if the impact of the kelp can affect natural variations in the environment, are the questions that draw interest in the experiment.

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The world’s shellfish are under threat as our oceans become more acidic

An acidic seawater environment can produce thinner shells in oysters that can be more easily damaged in transit.

For the past few million years the world’s oceans have existed in a slightly alkaline state, with an average pH of 8.2. Now, with carbon emissions escalating, there is more CO₂ in the world’s atmosphere. This dissolves in the oceans, altering the chemistry of the seawater by lowering the pH and making it more acidic – up to 30% more in the past 200 years. This growing acidification of the oceans is becoming a serious problem for the production of shellfish around the world.

Shellfish are creatures which produce calcium carbonate shells and skeletons, such as mussels, oysters and corals. They create their protective shell structures through a process known as biomineralisation – producing hard minerals such as calcium carbonate by filtering calcium and carbonate from the water. If the amount of carbonate available in the oceans is reduced by acidification, it limits the ability of these creatures to create shells.

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Rising concerns over ocean acidification

The oceans cover over 70 percent of the Earth’s surface. Only 5 percent of this area has been adequately mapped and explored since the dawn of marine science. Such immense entities might seem untouchable, but anything is possible in the Anthropocene, our current geological state marked by heavy human influence on the environment. Since the Industrial Revolution in 1760, the acidity of the ocean has increased by 25 percent.

Ocean acidification occurs when carbon dioxide from the atmosphere dissolves into the ocean. Over a third of emitted CO2 ends up in the ocean, where it then reacts with seawater to form carbonic acid. Carbonic acid lowers the pH of the water, creating detrimental effects on the organisms living there. For some time, acidic environments have been known to disrupt and dissolve the calcium carbonate shelters built by organisms such as coral and shelled creatures. Now, it is clear that more than just shelled animals are in danger.

A recent study published in the Journal of Science states that ocean temperatures are rising at rates 40 percent faster than estimated five years ago, which will likely cause a multitude of other problems, including an increased rate of acidification.

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Kuwaiti experts use nuclear technology to study the marine environment

Lamya Al-Musallam, a senior research associate at KISR, checks the pH level in the tanks, which is controlled by a system provided by the IAEA. (Photo: Dean Calma/IAEA)

Kuwait — In the face of climate change and increased industrial activity, scientists in Kuwait are using nuclear science to address challenges to the marine environment, with the assistance of the IAEA.

“Kuwait is facing the effect of climate change, ocean acidification, pollution from the oil and shipping industry, power and desalination activities,” said Nader Al-Awadi, the Executive Commissioner for International Cooperation at the Kuwait Institute of Scientific Research (KISR), adding that these factors also impact the marine environment. “Kuwait is covering a broad range of techniques to study the marine environment and the application of nuclear technology is among the core methods.”

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Commentary: The ocean is changing – it’s getting more acidic

WASHINGTON: Ocean acidification, a change in the ocean’s chemistry, is increasingly posing a threat to ocean health.

While this change may be invisible, its effects are not. It is creating conditions that threaten a range of marine species and ecosystems, and thus the economies of coastal communities. All life on earth would eventually be affected as an increasingly warm and acidic ocean produces less oxygen.

There is therefore an urgent need to build resilience against ocean acidification to protect the marine biodiversity on which we depend on for food, development and recreation.

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UK committee warns of ocean acidification threat

Credit: Alan Smillie/

Credit: Alan Smillie/

The UK’s Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has published its Sustainable Seas report, which has warned that knowledge surrounding ocean acidification and its impacts is too limited.

Human-induced carbon dioxide emissions are causing ocean acidification, warming, and deoxygenation, the EAC wrote. “This will have major implications for fisheries and biodiversity around the UK and some of the UK overseas territories which are reliant on coral reefs for their livelihoods and resilience to extreme weather events.”

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book