Archive for the 'Media coverage' Category

Ocean acidification

For tens of millions of years, Earth’s oceans have maintained a relatively stable acidity level. It’s within this steady environment that the rich and varied web of life in today’s seas has arisen and flourished. But research shows that this ancient balance is being undone by a recent and rapid drop in surface pH that could have devastating global consequences.

Since the beginning of the industrial revolution in the early 1800s, fossil fuel-powered machines have driven an unprecedented burst of human industry and advancement. The unfortunate consequence, however, has been the emission of billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases into Earth’s atmosphere.

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The question of ocean acidification

Unprecedented floods that swamp cars and damage homes; dangerous storm surges that batter coastal roads and smash seawalls. We can already see the dramatic effects of climate change in the Northeast. But even on the clearest and calmest of days, a change is brewing in our world’s oceans that could have worse and more destructive consequences for local industries and livelihoods.

Oceans are warming and acidifying. Warming seawater has already caused economic damages such as periodic closures of Dungeness crab fishing. Ocean acidification is starting to take a toll. And the long-term effects of this change could be ruinous for marine life worldwide, and the people who depend on it for their food and income. Will ocean acidification hurt stocks in the Gulf of Maine, where the fishing industry nets hundreds of millions of dollars annually? If acidifying waters contribute to the decline of marine life in the region, can we slow the decline? Who is responsible for the damages—and can they be made to pay?

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Robert McLean’s podcast: PhD candidate Ellycia Harrould-Kolieb helps us understand something about ocean acidification (audio)

Dr Peter Kristoff described the recent presentation at the Australian-German Climate and Energy College by Ellycia Harrould-Kolieb as among the most important given at the college.

Ellycia, a PhD candidate a young women with an already impressive biography, discussed “Governing ocean acidification: Framing an emergent issue across existing multilateral environmental aqreements”.

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Marine Scotland contributes to international publication on ocean acidification

Figure 1. Schematic of potential impacts of OA on marine organisms with outer skeletons containing calcium carbonate (left), and pteropod Limacina retroversa observed under light microscopy (right).

Concern is growing globally about the impacts of ocean acidification (OA) on the marine environment. OA results from a change in the carbonate chemistry of the ocean making it more acidic, primarily as a result of the increased uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This increased acidity of seawater may negatively impact many marine organisms that live in it, including plankton, shellfish, fish larvae, seaweed and seagrasses, potentially affecting commercially exploited species.

There is a great concern about the potential impact of OA on calcifying plankton, microscopic organisms with outer skeletons made of calcium carbonate. Examples of calcifying plankton include the larval stages of many shellfish such as mussels and scallops, and pteropods, which are small marine snails commonly known as the “sea butterfly” (e.g. Limacina sp.). Increased seawater acidity would create more corrosive conditions that may dissolve their calcareous shells and make it harder to build them (figure 1).

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Study will focus on greenhouse gas impact on oceans

A research team led by the University of Victoria has a $540,000 grant to study how quickly oceans absorb carbon dioxide produced by human activity and what the implications could be for the future of the Earth.

The three oceans bordering on Canada absorb a massive amount of carbon dioxide but not enough is known about how quickly this happens or long-term implications for ocean acidification and marine life, the Vancouver Sun reported on July 15.

The project aims to bring together government, researchers and students to determine how to better model how rising rates of carbon dioxide will impact oceans around Canada.

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Progress and planning in understanding ocean acidification

Earth’s oceans are absorbing more and more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, causing ocean acidification (OA) that has harmful consequences for many marine organisms. Among other impacts, this acidification can throw food webs out of balance and negatively affect fisheries upon which humans rely.

The Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network (GOA-ON) is an international collaboration to observe OA worldwide, identify drivers of OA and its impacts on marine ecosystems, and provide biogeochemical data to optimize OA modeling and projections. Since its inception in 2012, GOA-ON has built a community of scientists through international workshops and regional training sessions intended to define priorities and approaches that advance these efforts. The 2019 international workshop, the fourth of its kind, was hosted in Hangzhou, China, by the State Key Laboratory of Satellite Ocean Environment Dynamics (SOED), part of the Second Institute of Oceanography within the Ministry of Natural Resources, and was attended by 270 participants from 60 countries.

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Acidification detrimental to ocean health: Pasifika Future

Ocean health is challenged in numerous ways from marine litter to the warming seas.

Academic and Head of Marine Studies at USP, Dr. Stuart Kininmonth explains that another nasty inclusion is acidification.

Speaking at the first Pasifika Future series on Healthy Oceans
co-hosted by the World Bank and USP, Dr. Kininmonth says with the effects of climate change more evident, Pacific communities now find themselves at the front-line of a storm on the horizon.

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book