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Ocean Acidification

Ocean Acidification may be the most pressing issue facing the planet today.

While many have become aware of the thermal aspects of climate change that result from too much carbon dioxide (C02), few are aware of the results that this is having on the acidification of the oceans.

Every time we send more carbon dioxide ( CO2 ) into the atmosphere it is either taken up by terrestrial plants, remains in the atmosphere, or is absorbed by oceans.  

 

All three places have one thing in common, they all contribute to disrupting the natural checks and balances of nature.

 

CO2 levels are now at a level that is no longer healthy for the oceans to maintain life as it has in the past.  The increasing ocean acidification is threating coral reefs and other shell life in the oceans.

 

Research has shown that corals are stable at 350 parts per million of C02.  

 

We have now surpassed a safe level and are at about 385 parts per million CO2 .   If the levels increase to 450 or higher, the oceans may no longer be able to sustain coral reefs of which 1/3 of all species in the oceans are dependent for survival.

 

The full ecological consequences remain uncertain, though the most probable outcome is that certain marine species will be in trouble and face the possibility of extinction.

 

The ABC News story below gives a good introduction to this critical issue.


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Recently Updated
Ocean acidifying 10 times faster than anytime in the last 55 million years, putting polar ecosystems at risk Last Updated on 2014-03-11 09:01:11 An assessment of ocean acidification, presented at the UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw in November 2013, starkly concluded that acidity is on track to rise 170 percent by the end of this century. As many key species are sensitive to changes in acidity, this would drastically impact ocean ecosystems, with effects especially pronounced in polar regions where the cold waters intensify acidification, and which are home to many organisms that are particularly vulnerable to acidification. The ocean acts as a giant sink for carbon, absorbing 24 million tons of CO2 from the atmosphere every day. Since industrialization, approximately 30 percent of anthropogenic (human generated) CO2 has been absorbed in this way. In the context of climate change this is incredibly important, as the amount of atmospheric CO2 is directly linked to global temperatures. But as CO2 is absorbed, the pH of the... More »
Rising ocean acidification leads to anxiety in fish Last Updated on 2014-01-01 19:09:30 by Mario Aguilera A new research study combining marine physiology, neuroscience, pharmacology, and behavioral psychology has revealed a surprising outcome from increases of carbon dioxide uptake in the oceans: anxious fish. A growing base of scientific evidence has shown that the absorption of human-produced carbon dioxide into the world's oceans is causing surface waters to decline in pH, causing a rise in acidity. This ocean acidification is known to disrupt the growth of shells and skeletons of certain marine animals but other consequences such as behavioral impacts have been largely unknown. In a study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego and MacEwan University in Edmonton, Canada, have shown for the first time that rising acidity levels increase anxiety in... More »
cean poverty: warming seas will affect poorest first Last Updated on 2013-12-31 13:18:08 By Tim Radford Almost a billion people rely on the oceans for food and jobs. What will happen to them when fish and shellfish decline as the waters get warmer and more acidic?                       LONDON—GREENHOUSE-GAS EMISSIONS FROM industry and power generation have begun to trigger ocean changes that will impose huge costs to the poorest people on the planet. Only in the polar regions would there be any increase in productivity or in oxygen levels. Nowhere would there be any cooling. These changes are likely to cascade through marine ecosystems and habitats to the deep ocean itself and to affect humans along the way, according to a report published recently in the journal Public Library of Science Biology. “The consequence of these co-occurring changes are massive: everything from species survival to... More »
Ocean Deteriorating More Rapidly Than Thought Last Updated on 2013-10-15 18:06:24 By Alex Kirby, Climate News Network LONDON – Marine scientists say the state of the world’s oceans is deteriorating more rapidly than anyone had realized, and is worse than that described in last month’s U.N. climate report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. They say the rate, speed and impacts of ocean change are greater, faster and more imminent than previously thought – and they expect summertime Arctic sea ice cover will have disappeared in around 25 years. Their review, produced by the International Program on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and published in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin, agrees with the IPCC that the oceans are absorbing much of the warming caused by carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. But it says the impact of this warming, when combined... More »
Carbon Dioxide at NOAA’s Mauna Loa Observatory reaches new milestone: Tops 400 ppm Last Updated on 2013-05-10 00:00:00 Contact: John Ewald, 240-429-6127 NOAA's Mauna Loa Observatory after a snowstorm. Courtesy of Mary Miller, Exploratorium On May 9, the daily mean concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of Mauna Loa, Hawaii, surpassed 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time since measurements began in 1958. Independent measurements made by both NOAA and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography have been approaching this level during the past week. It marks an important milestone because Mauna Loa, as the oldest continuous carbon dioxide (CO2) measurement station in the world, is the primary global benchmark site for monitoring the increase of this potent heat-trapping gas. Carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere by fossil fuel burning and other human activities is the most significant greenhouse gas (GHG) contributing to climate change. Its concentration has increased every year... More »