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New ocean monitoring indicators: ocean acidification (video)

Ocean Monitoring Indicators (OMIs) are free downloadable trends and data sets covering the past quarter of a century. These are key variables used to track the vital health signs of the ocean and changes in line with climate change. Knowing how much heat is stored in the ocean, the pH of the ocean, how fast the sea levels are rising and sea ice is melting, is essential to understanding the current state and changes in the ocean and climate. This information is critical for assessing and confronting oceanic and atmospheric changes associated with global warming and they can be used by scientists, decision-makers, environmental agencies, the general public, and in measuring our responses to environmental directives. The OMIs expand the Copernicus Marine Service portfolio to provide not only ocean data products but also key reference information on the state of the ocean.

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You better repeat it: serial ocean acidification experiments on fish early life stages

To detect potential effects of acidification on marine organisms, experimenters most commonly use within-experiment replication, but repeating the experiments themselves is rarely done. While the first approach suffices to detect major CO2 effects, other potentially important responses may get detected and robustly quantified only via serial experimentation. A study by Baumann et al. in Biology Letters comprises a meta-analysis of 20 standard CO2 exposure experiments conducted over six years on Atlantic silverside (Menidia menidia) offspring.

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Sub-surface Automated Sampler (SAS)

The sub-surface automated dual water sampler (SAS) was designed by researchers at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) and the University of Miami to help scientists study water chemistry on shallow reef habitats. It was also created to minimize some of the financial hurdles in marine research by serving as a low-cost open-source alternative to existing water samplers. Explore the SAS website, use it to guide you in building and using your own water samplers, embrace the maker movement and improve on our design. If you are a teacher, there are free lesson plans to download that include labs and activities related to science, technology, and engineering. Enjoy this site and please use the SAS to learn about and explore our oceans!

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Ocean Conservancy expert testifies on coastal & ocean impacts of climate, acidification

WASHINGTON, DC – Rising carbon pollution is not only warming the world’s ocean – it’s also changing its very chemistry, marine scientist Sarah Cooley, Ph.D., told members U.S. House Committee on Science, Space & Technology Subcommittee on Environment today.

“Our ocean and the people who depend on it are facing unprecedented challenges,” Dr. Cooley warned. “The ocean is at risk, struggling to keep pace with rising temperatures, pollution, and the absorption of greenhouse gases.” Today’s hearing, Sea Change: Impacts of Climate Change on Our Oceans and Coasts, explored the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification on oceans and U.S. coastal communities.

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Rapid warming and salinity changes mask acidification in Gulf of Maine waters

Why don’t we see ocean acidification in over a decade of high-frequency observations in the Gulf of Maine? The answer lies in a recent decade of changes that raised sea surface temperature and salinity, and in turn dampened the expected acidification signal and caused the saturation states of calcite minerals to increase. From 2004 to 2014, sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Maine were higher than any observations recorded in the region over the past 150 years. This greatly impacted both CO2 solubility and the sea surface carbonate system, as detailed in a recent paper in Biogeochemistry.

Over the 34 years of the time-series, the recent event is extreme, but interannual and decadal salinity and temperature variability also influenced carbonate system parameters, which makes it difficult to isolate and quantify an anthropogenic ocean acidification signal, especially if relying on shorter-term observations (Figure 1).

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Podcast: ocean acidification

Description: Guest Carl Lundin, Principal Marine and Polar Scientist in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature

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Ocean acidification impacts on coastal communities

Researchers gathered to formulate recommendations for policymakers on the mitigation, adaptation and research priorities needed to avoid the catastrophic impact of ocean acidification on coastal economies.

Problem

Ocean acidification is “one of the greatest scourges from the development of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions to have both concrete and global impact,” H.S.H Prince Albert of Monaco.

The change in seawater chemistry caused by excess atmospheric CO absorbed by the ocean weakens coral reefs and slows their growth. A high CO2 ocean will affect marine organisms and the health of wider ecosystems, and has potentially huge consequences for coastal communities and their economies.

For researchers modelling the type and magnitude of ocean acidification impacts, for governments identifying policy interventions and for coastal communities seeking to maintain current economic activities and benefits, ocean acidification is a growing concern. This is where the Scientific Center of Monaco and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) stepped in to help.

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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