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Ocean acidification risks deep-sea reef collapse

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Deep-sea coral reefs face challenges as changes to ocean chemistry triggered by climate change may cause their foundations to become brittle, a study suggests.

The underlying structures of the reefs—which are home to a multitude of aquatic life—could fracture as a result of increasing ocean acidity caused by rising levels of carbon dioxide.

Rising acidity

Hundreds of metres below the surface of the ocean in Southern California, researchers measured the lowest—therefore the most acidic—pH level ever recorded on living coral reefs. The corals were then raised in the lab for one year under the same conditions.

Scientists observed that the skeletons of dead corals, which support and hold up living corals, had become porous due to ocean acidification and rapidly become too fragile to bear the weight of the reef above them.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification risks deep-sea reef collapse’

Smoke and acid: where wildfires meet the ocean

Buildings in West Vancouver are obscured by heavy smoke on Sept. 14 as wildfires burn across the U.S. border. Photo: The Canadian Press / Jonathan Hayward

As forest fires burn uncontrollably south of the U.S. border, the smokey skies over B.C. hint at the suffocating life in an ocean growing increasingly acidic

By Fiona Beaty, PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia studying the impacts of ocean warming and acidification on B.C.’s coastal ecosystems and communities

Yesterday I realized what it might feel like to live in an acidifying ocean. After waking up to red hazy light filtering through my blinds, I prepared to take my daily coffee walk — one of my COVID-19 rituals to break up the monotony of working from home in my small bedroom. Upon stepping outside, my first inhalation brought acrid smoke and ash from 4.7 million acres of land burning in another country into my lungs.

The air we breathe in Vancouver right now is unhealthy. It is filled with toxins that compromise our respiratory systems. It brings sadness and fatigue into our minds and bodies, and most importantly, it does not affect us equally. Portions of our population — the elderly, the young and the immunocompromised — are at a significantly higher risk of acute health impacts caused by the smoke, which further increases their vulnerability to COVID-19.

This experience is exactly what is happening to our ocean and the millions of sea creatures who are trying to breathe, grow and survive in increasingly corrosive and acidic seawater

Continue reading ‘Smoke and acid: where wildfires meet the ocean’

Two Texas students begin NOAA Ocean Acidification Graduate Research Fellowship

The fellowship program was created to develop ocean acidification researchers in the Gulf of Mexico, a region expected to experience increased ocean acidification in the future.

Larissa Dias and Richard Rosas, both nominated by Texas Sea Grant, are beginning their Ocean Acidification Graduate Research Fellowships, a joint effort between Texas Sea Grant, Louisiana Sea Grant, and the NOAA Ocean Acidification Program (OAP). They are among five students selected for the fellowship, which began in Sept. 2020.

The fellowship program was created to develop ocean acidification researchers in the Gulf of Mexico, a region expected to experience increased ocean acidification in the future. Fellows will address issues relevant to coastal ecosystems and communities related to ocean, coastal and estuarine acidification. The goal is to improve the understanding of the potential ecological consequences of increasing carbon dioxide concentration, which causes ocean acidification, in regional ocean, coastal and estuarine waters.

Continue reading ‘Two Texas students begin NOAA Ocean Acidification Graduate Research Fellowship’

A sea of change is coming

Dr. Tessa Hill (left) with colleagues in Tomales Bay, CA (Credit: A. Ninokawa)

Professor partners with community to better understand our oceans

A team of UC Davis faculty and students, community partners, local businesses, and policy makers are working together to turn the tide on a problematic change facing our waters — ocean acidification. Ocean acidification is the change in the pH of water due to the absorption of carbon dioxide, and it’s posing a significant problem for ocean animals and ecosystems.

“The ocean is a tremendous sponge for carbon dioxide. It actually soaks it up,” said UC Davis marine geochemist and oceanographer Tessa Hill. “About 30 percent of what we put in the atmosphere goes straight into the ocean.”

According to Hill, if you look at the earth’s geological records, ocean acidification is rising at an unprecedented rate. She and her colleagues at the Ocean Climate Lab @ UC Davis and the UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory are focused on answering broad questions about how climate change is impacting marine ecosystems.
Continue reading ‘A sea of change is coming’

Reversing ocean acidification is doable, if we have the political will | Opinion

A new study has found that ocean acidification is damaging the shells of young Dungeness crab off the Oregon coast. TNS

Ocean acidification, one of many devastating effects of the warming earth, has been well-documented. It’s no longer up for debate. We now know that this process is adversely affecting many of the species that are the cornerstone of major oceanic ecosystems.

The public has been focusing on recent hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, along with massive wildfires and record heat waves in the West, as dangers of global warming. However, what has been ignored is the other danger, the increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations — the increasing acidification of our oceans!

Continue reading ‘Reversing ocean acidification is doable, if we have the political will | Opinion’

Monitoring ocean acidification from the sky

PML’s research into ocean acidification and its effects spans across scientific disciplines. One study from last year demonstrated how satellite technology can play a vital role in developing this understanding.

As the ocean absorbs carbon dioxide from Earth’s atmosphere, its pH levels are reducing, in a process known as ocean acidification. This is already putting stress on many marine organisms and will continue to do so as ocean acidification worsens. So it’s crucial for researchers to be able to monitor how the sea’s chemistry is changing, especially in regions that are particularly vulnerable and hard to access, such as the Arctic.

Continue reading ‘Monitoring ocean acidification from the sky’

Building resilience to ocean acidification in Fiji and Kiribati

The Pacific Partnership on Ocean Acidification (PPOA) project has been working collaboratively with community members in Fiji and Kiribati to strengthen their coastal resilience to the threat of ocean acidification.

In Fiji, a planning workshop was conducted in October 2019, whereby coral restoration, mangrove planting, and giant clam restoration were identified as key activities for mitigating ocean acidification.

PPOA, in collaboration with Conservation International, Fiji, conducted this work over a 14-day period from 8 – 15 February in Taveuni, particularly in the districts of Vuna and Wainikeli. More than 2,500 mangrove seedlings were planted in the Navakacoa nursery, an initiative undertaken by the women’s group of Navakacoa. The seedlings will be transplanted after four to five months to villages who need them.


Continue reading ‘Building resilience to ocean acidification in Fiji and Kiribati’

International Ocean Acidification Week 8-10 September

A new program will monitor ocean acidity within marine reserves to get a national picture on how New Zealand’s moana will be affected by climate change.

A diver in a kelp forest at Taputeranga Marine Reservein Wellington.
Credit: Vincent Zinten

8-10th September is International Ocean Acidification Week
Ocean acidification is usually associated with poor ocean health, but this Monday we take the opportunity to celebrate DOC’s contribution to a nation-wide monitoring program that will help us track and respond to ocean acidification. This program is linked to the Global and New Zealand Ocean Acidification Observing Networks (GOA-ON and NZOA-ON), which are international and national collaborative efforts to monitor and understand ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘International Ocean Acidification Week 8-10 September’

Alaska Ocean Acidification Network: Sherry Tamone

Sherry Tamone is a crustacean physiologist at the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau who recently started studying the affects of OA on shrimp.

Q: We hear you’re launching a new project on OA and shrimp. What will you be testing and what are your hypotheses?

I recently received funding from Alaska Sea Grant to study the potential effects of ocean acidification and warming temperatures on the physiology of the Northern spot shrimp (Pandalus platyceros). My lab is interested the physiology of molting (growth) and we know that molting is an energetically expensive process. We think that living in a warming an increasingly acidic environment will have a metabolic cost to growing animals. We will test this hypothesis using juvenile spot shrimp that may be most susceptible since they need to molt more often.

Continue reading ‘Alaska Ocean Acidification Network: Sherry Tamone’

What is ocean acidification? (video)

Continue reading ‘What is ocean acidification? (video)’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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