Navigation Links
Ocean acidification -- another undesired side effect of fossil fuel-burning

Up to now, the oceans have buffered climate change considerably by absorbing almost one third of the worldwide emitted carbon dioxide. The oceans represent a significant carbon sink, but the uptake of excess CO2 stemming from mans burning of fossil fuels comes at a high cost: ocean acidification.

Research on ocean acidification is a newly emerging field and was one of the major topics at this years European Geosciences Union (EGU) General Assembly held in Vienna in April. The European Science Foundation EUROCORES (European Collaborative Research) programme EuroCLIMATE, which addresses in particular global carbon cycle dynamics, organized and co-sponsored several sessions on ocean acidification.

The chemistry is very straight-forward: ocean acidification is linearly related to the amount of CO2 we produce. CO2 dissolves in the ocean, reacts with seawater and decreases the pH. Since the industrial revolution, the oceans have become 30 percent more acidic (from 8.2 pH to 8.1 pH). Under a business as usual scenario, predictions for the end of the century are that we will lower the surface ocean pH by 0.4 pH units, which means that the surface oceans will become 150 percent more acidic and this is a hell of a lot , said Jelle Bijma, chair of the EuroCLIMATE programme Scientific Committee and a biogeochemist at the Alfred-Wegener-Institute Bremerhaven. Ocean acidification is more rapid than ever in the history of the earth and if you look at the pCO2 (partial pressure of carbon dioxide) levels we have reached now, you have to go back 35 million years in time to find the equivalents continued Bijma. A maximum allowed change in pH, where the system is still controllable, needs to be found. This is a major challenge considering the multifaceted unknowns that still are to be clarified. This so-called tipping point is currently estimated to allow a drop of about 0.2 pH units, a value that could be reached in as near as 30 years. More research and further modeling needs to be undertaken to verify the predictions.

The expected biological impact of ocean acidification remains still uncertain. Most calcifying organisms such as corals, mussels, algae and plankton investigated so far, respond negatively to the more acidic ocean waters. Because of the increased acidity, less carbonate ions are available, which means the calcification rates of the organisms are decreasing and thus their shells and skeletons thinning. However, a recent study suggested that a specific form of single-celled algae called coccolithophores actually gets stimulated by elevated pCO2 levels in the oceans, creating even bigger uncertainties when it comes to the biological response. There are thousands of calcifying organisms on earth and we have investigated only six to ten of them, we need to have a much better understanding of the physiological mechanisms demanded Jean-Pierre Gattuso, a speaker from Laboratoire dOcanographie Villefranche invited by EuroCLIMATE. In addition, higher marine life forms are likely to be affected by the rapidly acidifying oceans and entire food webs might be changing.

So far, hardly any economic impact assessments of ocean acidification exist, but with the fragile marine ecosystems under threat, it can be assumed that fisheries and many coastal economies will be severely affected. Many of these societies depend on the sea as their main source of food and the loss of species is highly detrimental to them; coral reefs serve as highly valuable tourist destinations and as natural protections against natural hazards such as tsunamis. Together with climate change, ocean acidification poses a major challenge to the oceans as a human habitat.

Ocean acidification is happening today and its happening on top of global warming, so we are in double trouble stated Bijma. Only a serious cut of CO2 emission can reduce ocean acidification. Therefore, knowledge on ocean acidification is being disseminated and awareness among policymakers and the general public raised. We need to make sure that the message gets delivered to the right people at the right time urged Carol Turley, lead author of the Nobel prize-winning IPCC report and scientist at the Plymouth Marine Laboratory. According to her, a concise integrated opinion of leading scientists is necessary, and it would be useful for policy makers to devote one integrated chapter on the impacts of climate change including ocean acidification on the marine environment in a future IPCC report.

European science has taken the initiative to act and gain more urgently needed insight on this phenomenon of global change; an EU project on ocean acidification will be launched next month. The European Geosciences Union (EGU), an influential interdisciplinary organization, is also being proactive: EGU is in the process of putting together a position statement on ocean acidification said Gerald Ganssen, President of the EGU. As a result attained at a strategic workshop held in January, the ESF is currently producing a Science Policy Briefing which is to be targeted at the major stakeholders and actors in the field. In addition it was felt that the issue of ocean acidification needs to be addressed in a pan-European effort and that more intensive European collaboration is required, which could be achieved through one of the ESF Science Synergy tools such as EUROCORES.


Contact: Dr. Michiko Hama
European Science Foundation

Related biology news :

1. Study in Science cites impact of anthropogenic nitrogen on ocean biology, atmospheric CO2
2. Atmosphere threatened by pollutants entering ocean, prof says
3. Ponds found to take up carbon like worlds oceans
4. Diatoms discovered to remove phosphorus from oceans
5. Oxygen depletion: A new form of ocean habitat loss
6. Scripps Oceanography Research pegs ID of red tide killer
7. Viruses, oxygen and our green oceans
8. Researchers to develop ocean sanctuary noise budget to evaluate potential impact on marine mammals
9. Continents loss to oceans boosts staying power
10. Oceanic sharks worldwide at serious risk from high-seas fishing, rising demand for shark products
11. Giant ocean eddy shadows Sydney
Post Your Comments:
(Date:5/16/2017)... TEANECK, N.J. , May 16, 2017  Veratad ... leading provider of online age and identity verification solutions, ... the K(NO)W Identity Conference 2017, May 15 thru May ... Ronald Regan Building and International Trade Center. ... across the globe and in today,s quickly evolving digital ...
(Date:4/24/2017)... -- Janice Kephart , former 9/11 Commission ... LLP (IdSP) , today issues the following statement: ... 6, 2017 Executive Order: Protecting the Nation ... instilled with greater confidence, enabling the reactivation of ... are suspended by until at least July 2017). ...
(Date:4/17/2017)... -- NXT-ID, Inc. (NASDAQ: NXTD ) ("NXT-ID" or ... 2016 Annual Report on Form 10-K on Thursday April 13, 2017 ... ... Investor Relations section of the Company,s website at  under ... . 2016 Year Highlights: ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/12/2017)... , ... October 12, 2017 ... ... has launched Rosalind™, the first-ever genomics analysis platform specifically designed for life ... Named in honor of pioneering researcher Rosalind Franklin, who made a major ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... ... today it will be hosting a Webinar titled, “Pathology is going digital. Is ... , on digital pathology adoption best practices and how Proscia improves lab economics ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... Singh ... orphan drug designation to SBT-100, its novel anti-STAT3 (Signal Transducer and Activator of ... SBT-100 is able to cross the cell membrane and bind intracellular STAT3 and ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... research firm Parks Associates announced today that Tom Kerber ... Annual Meeting , October 11 in Scottsdale, Arizona . ... how smart safety and security products impact the competitive landscape. ... Parks Associates: Smart Home Devices: Main Purchase Driver ... "The residential security market has experienced continued growth, and the ...
Breaking Biology Technology: