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Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Acidifying Ocean off the Pacific Coast

posted by on May 22 at 15:50 PM

Ok, just in case slog hasn’t been depressing enough today….

Since the beginning of the industrial era, the oceans have absorbed approximately 127 ▒ 18 billion metric tons of carbon as carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, or about one third of the anthropogenic [human produced] carbon emissions released….

However, the ocean’s daily uptake of 30 million metric tons of carbon dioxide is significantly impacting its chemistry and biology. Recent hydrographic surveys and modeling studies have confirmed that the uptake of anthropogenic CO2 by the oceans has resulted in a lowering of seawater pH by about 0.1 since the beginning of the industrial revolution….

The reaction of CO2 with seawater reduces the availability of carbonate ions that are necessary for calcium carbonate (CaCO3) skeleton and shell formation for a number of marine organisms such as corals, marine plankton, and shellfish…

In May and June of 2007, we conducted a North American Carbon Program (NACP) West Coast Cruise on the Research Ship Wecoma along the continental shelf of western North America, completing a series of 13 cross-shelf transects from Queen Charlotte Sound, Canada to San Gregorio Baja California Sur, Mexico.

(from Science, Richard A. Feely et al. AOP)


What did they find? When the normal seasonal upswelling of deep ocean water occurs, the CO2-laden (and therefore acidified) offshore water comes into the continental shelf. This water is now acidic enough to be corrosive to the shellfish that support the entire ocean ecosystem. So, we’re all just a bit closer to doomed. Sweet!

Aquaman-Posters.jpg
Where’s Aquaman when you need him?

RSS icon Comments

1

You know Aquaman is as powerless to de-acidify the ocean as the fish he controls, Golob. We all know it, Aquaman most of all. You only mention him to mock his weakness and heighten the pathos of our inevitable doom.

Posted by elenchos | May 22, 2008 5:05 PM
2

I will now listen to Avril Lavigne, in penitence.

Posted by Jonathan Golob | May 22, 2008 5:24 PM
3

Wait, what is the scientist's name again?

Posted by collie | May 22, 2008 9:23 PM
4

And I forgot to purchase carbon offsets for my last flight to LA. Crap. Now I am responsible for the end of the world. Crap crap crap.

Posted by croydonfacelift | May 22, 2008 10:57 PM
5

There has also been a massive decline in several species of plankton.

Posted by Morgan | May 22, 2008 11:30 PM
6

@4, don't worry about your flight, I mean Dan Savage flies around weekly and that does not seem to bother him in the least. I am sure you can still say you are green!!!

Posted by But Dan Savage Flies All the Time!!! | May 23, 2008 12:22 AM
7

FUCK AQUAMAN.

Hail Namor, The Sub Mariner!

Posted by Comic Fan | May 23, 2008 1:51 AM
8

Critters adapt and evolve. In a few generations my greatgrandkids will be digging the new razor clams with titanium shells and huge eyeballs that can project flameballs.

Posted by Bob | May 23, 2008 6:21 AM
9

@7, damn right I would fuck Aquaman!! Oh man would I fuck Aquaman!!

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | May 23, 2008 8:51 AM
10

Man, this is so bogus.



"Recent hydrographic surveys and modeling studies have confirmed that the uptake of anthropogenic CO2 by the oceans has resulted in a lowering of seawater pH by about 0.1 since the beginning of the industrial revolutionů."


I'm so sure that Isaac Newton was out measuring the pH of the ocean to within one tenth of a pH unit.

Posted by farsider | May 23, 2008 10:10 AM
11

There is another frightening aspect to this. In a positive feedback loop, more acidic conditions inhibit the formation of CaCO3 scales by coccolithophorids, which are one of the major deep water 'export' routes for carbon from the surface waters. Things will only get worse :/

Posted by boyd main | May 23, 2008 10:11 AM

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