Posts Tagged 'mitigation'

Bio-buffering to combat ocean acidification?

Atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration is rising faster than ever before, due to continuous surge in burning fossil fuel. According to the ‘State of the Climate in 2017’ report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the American Meteorological Society, the global growth rate of atmospheric CO2 concentration was approximately 0.6 ± 0.1 ppm/year in the 1960s [3]. However, in the last decade, the growth rate has jumped to 2.3 ppm/year. The estimated atmospheric CO2 concentration is expected to reach 800–1000 ppm by the end of this century [6]. Oceans absorb nearly 30% of the global CO2 emissions [8], resulting in decrease in ocean pH, known as ocean acidification (OA). While atmospheric CO2 is the major contributor to OA globally, other anthropogenic activities influence OA on a local level. These include acid rain from vehicle emissions and industry in urban areas, inflow of organic carbon to the oceans in the form of sewage, and nutrient loading into the oceans from agricultural runoff; all of which contribute to OA [7].

Ocean acidification not only lowers the pH of ocean water, but also decreases dissolved carbonate ion (CO32−) concentration and alters the saturation states of calcium carbonate minerals. Calcifying organisms, such as corals, mollusks, and shellfishes, which use CO32− ions along with calcium ions to produce their calcium carbonate skeletons and shells, are negatively impacted by decreased CO32− levels. In addition, OA causes changes in habitat quality and nutrient cycling, which have numerous effects on food web interactions. Overall, complex changes occur in populations, communities, and the entire ecosystem; the scope of which is yet to be fully understood.

Continue reading ‘Bio-buffering to combat ocean acidification?’

Ocean solutions to address climate change and its effects on marine ecosystems

The Paris Agreement target of limiting global surface warming to 1.5–2C compared to pre-industrial levels by 2100 will still heavily impact the ocean. While ambitious mitigation and adaptation are both needed, the ocean provides major opportunities for action to reduce climate change globally and its impacts on vital ecosystems and ecosystem services. A comprehensive and systematic assessment of 13 global- and local-scale, ocean-based measures was performed to help steer the development and implementation of technologies and actions toward a sustainable outcome. We show that (1) all measures have tradeoffs and multiple criteria must be used for a comprehensive assessment of their potential, (2) greatest benefit is derived by combining global and local solutions, some of which could be implemented or scaled-up immediately, (3) some measures are too uncertain to be recommended yet, (4) political consistency must be achieved through effective cross-scale governance mechanisms, (5) scientific effort must focus on effectiveness, co-benefits, disbenefits, and costs of poorly tested as well as new and emerging measures.

Continue reading ‘Ocean solutions to address climate change and its effects on marine ecosystems’

Impact of environmental hypercapnia on fertilization success rate and the early embryonic development of the clam Limecola balthica (Bivalvia, Tellinidae) from the southern Baltic Sea – a potential CO2 leakage case study


• Fertilization success of Limecola balthica drops along decreasing pH gradient.
• Low pH causes delays of early embryonic development of the Baltic clam.
L. balthica embryos develop aberrations of early cleavages in CO2-rich environment.
• CO2 leakage from CCS site may affect population’s size by impeding its reproduction.


Carbon capture and storage technology was developed as a tool to mitigate the increased emissions of carbon dioxide by capture, transportation, injection and storage of CO2 into subterranean reservoirs. There is, however, a risk of future CO2 leakage from sub-seabed storage sites to the sea-floor sediments and overlying water, causing a pH decrease. The aim of this study was to assess effects of CO2-induced seawater acidification on fertilization success and early embryonic development of the sediment-burrowing bivalve Limecola balthica L. from the Baltic Sea. Laboratory experiments using a CO2 enrichment system involved three different pH variants (pH 7.7 as control, pH 7.0 and pH 6.3, both representing environmental hypercapnia). The results showed significant fertilization success reduction under pH 7.0 and 6.3 and development delays at 4 and 9 h post gamete encounter. Several morphological aberrations (cell breakage, cytoplasm leakages, blastomere deformations) in the early embryos at different cleavage stages were observed.

Continue reading ‘Impact of environmental hypercapnia on fertilization success rate and the early embryonic development of the clam Limecola balthica (Bivalvia, Tellinidae) from the southern Baltic Sea – a potential CO2 leakage case study’

A strategy for the conservation of biodiversity on mid-ocean ridges from deep-sea mining

Mineral exploitation has spread from land to shallow coastal waters and is now planned for the offshore, deep seabed. Large seafloor areas are being approved for exploration for seafloor mineral deposits, creating an urgent need for regional environmental management plans. Networks of areas where mining and mining impacts are prohibited are key elements of these plans. We adapt marine reserve design principles to the distinctive biophysical environment of mid-ocean ridges, offer a framework for design and evaluation of these networks to support conservation of benthic ecosystems on mid-ocean ridges, and introduce projected climate-induced changes in the deep sea to the evaluation of reserve design. We enumerate a suite of metrics to measure network performance against conservation targets and network design criteria promulgated by the Convention on Biological Diversity. We apply these metrics to network scenarios on the northern and equatorial Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where contractors are exploring for seafloor massive sulfide (SMS) deposits. A latitudinally distributed network of areas performs well at (i) capturing ecologically important areas and 30 to 50% of the spreading ridge areas, (ii) replicating representative areas, (iii) maintaining along-ridge population connectivity, and (iv) protecting areas potentially less affected by climate-related changes. Critically, the network design is adaptive, allowing for refinement based on new knowledge and the location of mining sites, provided that design principles and conservation targets are maintained. This framework can be applied along the global mid-ocean ridge system as a precautionary measure to protect biodiversity and ecosystem function from impacts of SMS mining.

Continue reading ‘A strategy for the conservation of biodiversity on mid-ocean ridges from deep-sea mining’

Effects of CO2 enrichment on two microalgae species: a toxicity approach using consecutive generations


• The paper addresses the potential impacts of CO2 enrichment in the marine environment.
• Two different marine microalgae species were used through four consecutive generations.
• T. chuii showed a slight adaptation through generations, in terms of metabolic activity.
• P. tricornutum was the most sensitive one with almost total growth inhibition in the fourth generation.
• The results give valuable data about the transgenerational effects of CO2 enrichment on microalgae.


As a result of the increasing pressure provoked by anthropogenic activities, the world climate is changing and oceans health is in danger. One of the most important factors affecting the marine environment is the well-known process called ocean acidification. Also, there are other natural or anthropogenic processes that produce an enrichment of CO2 in the marine environment (CO2 leakages from Carbon Capture and Storage technologies (CCS), organic matter diagenesis, volcanic vents, etc). Most of the studies related to acidification of the marine environment by enrichment of CO2 have been focused on short-term experiments. To evaluate the effects related to CO2 enrichment, laboratory-scale experiments were performed using the marine microalgae Tetraselmis chuii and Phaeodactylum tricornutum. Three different pH values (two treatments – pH 7.4 and 6.0 – and a control – pH 8.0) were tested on the selected species across four consecutive generations. Seawater was collected and exposed to different scenarios of CO2 enrichment by means of CO2 injection. The results showed different effects depending on the species and the generation used. Effects on T. chuii were shown on cell density, chlorophyll-a and metabolic activity, however, a slight adaptation across generations was found in this last parameter. P. tricornutum was more sensitive to acidification conditions through generations, with practically total growth inhibition in the fourth one. The conclusions obtained in this work are useful to address the potential ecological risk related to acidification by enrichment of CO2 on the marine ecosystem by using consecutive generations of microalgae.

Continue reading ‘Effects of CO2 enrichment on two microalgae species: a toxicity approach using consecutive generations’

Habitat effects of macrophytes and shell on carbonate chemistry and juvenile clam recruitment, survival, and growth


• Field experiment testing two substrate treatments as OA adaptation strategies
• Clam growth increased in absence of macrophytes, regardless of shell hash treatment.
• Neither treatment improved clam recruitment or survival.
• pH in water column was higher during the day and outside eelgrass beds.
• Added shell hash improved carbonate chemistry in sediment pore-water.


Adverse habitat conditions associated with reduced seawater pH often, but not always, negatively affect bivalves in early life history phases. Improving our understanding of how habitat-specific parameters affect clam recruitment, survival, and growth could assist natural resource managers and researchers in developing appropriate adaptation strategies for increasingly acidified nearshore ecosystems. Two proposed adaptation strategies, the presence of macrophytes and addition of shell hash, have the potential to raise local seawater pH and aragonite saturation state and, therefore, to improve conditions for shell-forming organisms. This field study examined the effects of these two substrate treatments on biological and geochemical response variables. Specifically, we measured (1) recruitment, survival, and growth of juvenile clams (Ruditapes philippinarum) and (2) local water chemistry at Fidalgo Bay and Skokomish Delta, Washington, USA, in response to experimental manipulations. Results showed no effect of macrophyte or shell hash treatment on recruitment or survival of R. philippinarum. Contrary to expectations, clam growth was significantly greater in the absence of macrophytes, regardless of the presence or absence of shell hash. Water column pH was higher outside the macrophyte bed than inside at Skokomish Delta and higher during the day than at night at Fidalgo Bay. Additionally, pore-water pH and aragonite saturation state were higher in the absence of macrophytes and the presence of shell. Based on these results, we propose that with increasingly corrosive conditions shell hash may help provide chemical refugia under future ocean conditions. Thus, we suggest adaptation strategies target the use of shell hash and avoidance of macrophytes to improve carbonate chemistry conditions and promote clam recruitment, survival, and growth.

Continue reading ‘Habitat effects of macrophytes and shell on carbonate chemistry and juvenile clam recruitment, survival, and growth’

Carbon sequestration via enhanced weathering of peridotites and basalts in seawater


• Enhanced weathering of ultrafine peridotites and basalts in seawater was studied.
• Open system experiments were performed in batch reactors at ambient conditions.
• Peridotites induced CO2 drawdown directly from the atmosphere via mineralization.
• The basalt did not yield any significant changes in seawater composition.
• The precipitation of sepiolite could reduce the carbon sequestration efficiency.


Enhanced weathering of mafic and ultramafic rocks has been suggested as a carbon sequestration strategy for the mitigation of climate change. This study was designed to assess the potential drawdown of CO2 directly from the atmosphere by the enhanced weathering of peridotites and basalts in seawater. Pulverized, and ball milled dunite, harzburgite and olivine basalt were reacted in artificial seawater in batch reactor systems open to the atmosphere for two months. The results demonstrate that the ball-milled dunite and harzburgite changed dramatically the chemical composition of the seawater within a few hours, inducing CO2 drawdown directly from the atmosphere and ultimately the precipitation of aragonite. In contrast, pulverized but unmilled rocks, and the ball-milled basalt, did not yield any significant changes in seawater composition during the two-month experiments. As much as 10 wt percent aragonite was precipitated during the experiment containing the finest-grained dunite. These results demonstrate that ball milling can substantially enhance the weathering rate of peridotites in marine environments, promoting the permanent storage of CO2 as environmentally benign carbonate minerals through enhanced weathering. The precipitation of Mg-silicate clay minerals, however, could reduce the efficiency of this carbon sequestration approach over longer timescales.


Continue reading ‘Carbon sequestration via enhanced weathering of peridotites and basalts in seawater’

Negative-CO2-emissions ocean thermal energy conversion


•  OTEC can generate electricity while cooling the surface ocean/atmosphere.
•  Vertically transporting fluids other than seawater increases OTEC efficiency.
•  Conversion of OTEC electricity to H2 via electrolysis allows energy transport onshore.
•  Modifying electrolysis to consume CO2 produces negative-CO2-emissions OTEC, NEOTEC.
•  CO2 is converted to ocean alkalinity for carbon storage and for acidity mitigation.


Conversion of the ocean’s vertical thermal energy gradient to electricity via Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) has been demonstrated at small scales over the past century, and represents one of the largest (and growing) potential energy sources on the planet. Here we describe how OTEC could be modified to provide a large source of CO2-emissions-negative energy while also allowing heat removal from the surface ocean, helping to directly counter ocean/atmosphere warming. Most OTEC energy potential is far offshore, thus the conversion of the produced electricity to a chemical energy carrier such as H2 or derivatives is required. This can be achieved by employing a method of electrochemically generating H2 that also consumes CO2, converting the carbon to a common form of ocean alkalinity. The addition of such alkalinity to the ocean would provide high-capacity carbon storage while countering the chemical and biological effects of ocean acidification. For each gigawatt (GW) of continuous electric power generated over one year by the preceding negative-emissions OTEC (NEOTEC), roughly 13 GW of surface ocean heat would be directly removed to deep water, while producing 1.3 × 105 tonnes of H2/yr (avoiding 1.1 × 106 tonnes of CO2 emissions/yr), and consuming and storing (as dissolved mineral bicarbonate) approximately 5 × 106 tonnes CO2/yr. The preceding CO2 mitigation would result in an indirect planetary cooling effect of about 2.6 GW. Such negative-emissions energy production and global warming mitigation would avoid the biophysical and land use limitations posed by methods that rely on terrestrial biology.

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Expected limits on the ocean acidification buffering potential of a temperate seagrass meadow

Ocean acidification threatens many marine organisms, especially marine calcifiers. The only global‐scale solution to ocean acidification remains rapid reduction in CO2 emissions. Nevertheless, interest in localized mitigation strategies has grown rapidly because of the recognized threat ocean acidification imposes on natural communities, including ones important to humans. Protection of seagrass meadows has been considered as a possible approach for localized mitigation of ocean acidification due to their large standing stocks of organic carbon and high productivity. Yet much work remains to constrain the magnitudes and timescales of potential buffering effects from seagrasses. We developed a biogeochemical box model to better understand the potential for a temperate seagrass meadow to locally mitigate the effects of ocean acidification. Then we parameterized the model using data from Tomales Bay, an inlet on the coast of California, USA which supports a major oyster farming industry. We conducted a series of month‐long model simulations to characterize processes that occur during summer and winter. We found that average pH in the seagrass meadows was typically within 0.04 units of the pH of the primary source waters into the meadow, although we did find occasional periods (hours) when seagrass metabolism may modify the pH by up to ±0.2 units. Tidal phasing relative to the diel cycle modulates localized pH buffering within the seagrass meadow such that maximum buffering occurs during periods of the year with midday low tides. Our model results suggest that seagrass metabolism in Tomales Bay would not provide long‐term ocean acidification mitigation. However, we emphasize that our model results may not hold in meadows where assumptions about depth‐averaged net production and seawater residence time within the seagrass meadow differ from our model assumptions. Our modeling approach provides a framework that is easily adaptable to other seagrass meadows in order to evaluate the extent of their individual buffering capacities. Regardless of their ability to buffer ocean acidification, seagrass meadows maintain many critically important ecosystem goods and services that will be increasingly important as humans increasingly affect coastal ecosystems.

Continue reading ‘Expected limits on the ocean acidification buffering potential of a temperate seagrass meadow’

Enhanced rates of regional warming and ocean acidification after termination of large‐scale ocean alkalinization

Termination effects of large‐scale Artificial Ocean Alkalinization (AOA) have received little attention because AOA was assumed to pose low environmental risk. With the Max‐Planck‐Institute Earth System Model, we use emission‐driven AOA simulations following the Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5 (RCP8.5). We find that after termination of AOA warming trends in regions of the Northern hemisphere become ∼50% higher than those in RCP8.5 with rates similar to those caused by termination of solar geoengineering over the following three decades after cessation (up to 0.15 K/year). Rates of ocean acidification after termination of AOA outpace those in RCP8.5. In warm shallow regions where vulnerable coral reefs are located, decreasing trends in surface pH double (0.01 units/year) and the drop in the carbonate saturation state (Ω) becomes up to one order of magnitude larger (0.2 units/year). Thus, termination of AOA poses higher risks to biological systems sensitive to fast‐paced environmental changes than previously thought.

Continue reading ‘Enhanced rates of regional warming and ocean acidification after termination of large‐scale ocean alkalinization’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book