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Climate: Ocean acidification may be stunting coral growth

Mapping coral diseases is helping researchers determine the cause. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Coral growth is slowing dramatically along parts of the Great Barrier Reef. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Will the world’s coral reefs simply dissolve as oceans become more acidic?

Staff Report

FRISCO — Scientists monitoring the Great Barrier Reef said they’ve tracked a “perilous” 40 percent slowdown in coral growth rates since the 1970s.

The trend may be linked with increasing ocean acidification, according to the new study led  by researchers with the Carnegie Institution for Science.

The researchers compared current measurements of the growth rate of a section of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef with similar measurements taken more than 30 years ago. Continue reading

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How does the Southern Ocean regulate global climate?

Major research project to examine carbon cycling, circulation dynamics

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A new research project will help explain how the Southern Ocean helps regulate the global climate. bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Even though it’s eparated from the rest of the world’s oceans by a strong circulation of currents and a distinct temperature gradient, the Southern Ocean is known to be a key driver of global climate and carbon cycles.

Climate researchers and oceanographers may soon know a lot more about the enigmatic ocean as they deploy hundreds of robotic floats deployed around Antarctica in a six-year, $21 million research project aimed at understanding ocean dynamics, chemistry and carbon cycling. The new instruments will increase the flow of Southern Ocean data 30-fold. Continue reading

Report IDs ocean acidification threats to Alaska’s coastal resources, Native American communities

Important crab fisheries to suffer as oceans turn warm and acidiic

A nice haul of blue crabs.

Crabs are among the many commercially important species that will struggle as oceans grow warmer and more acidic. bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO —Alaska’s economically important crab fishery and other coastal and ocean resources face significant global warming threats, according to a new study led by scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The research findings, to be published online in the journal Progress in Oceanography, show that many of Alaska’s nutritionally and economically valuable marine fisheries are located in waters that are already experiencing ocean acidification.

Communities in southeast and southwest Alaska face the highest risk from ocean acidification because they rely heavily on fisheries that are expected to be most affected by ocean acidification. Some of those Native American communities are also more vulnerable to economic risks because of lower average incomes and  fewer employment opportunities, NOAA said in a press release. Continue reading

Report shows global warming threats to Mediterranean

‘We all need to act and there is no time to lose’

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The Ionian Sea near Ksamil, Albania. bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — There’s no reason to believe that any of the world’s oceans will be spared the effects of global warming and ocean acidification, including the Mediterranean Sea, where rapid changes threaten numerous species and entire ecosystems, according to a new report from a team of European researchers.

“We knew next to nothing about the combined effects of warming and acidification in the Mediterranean until this study, now we know that they are a serious double threat to our marine ecosystems,” said project coordinator Patrizia Ziveri, from Institute of Environmental Science and Technology at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona. Continue reading

Climate: Current rate of ocean acidification is 10 times faster than during ancient warming period

pteropod, ocean acidification

Ocean researchers say increasingly acidified water is eating away at the shells of tiny sea snails. Photo courtesy NOAA.

“The real unknown is how individual organisms will respond and how that cascades through ecosystems”

By Staff Report

FRISCO — The surge of carbon dioxide released by humankind’s use of fossil fuels may overwhelm the world’s oceans with an unprecedented rate of acidification, scientists said this week as they released a study showing historic rates of acidification.

Specifically, the researchers looked at pulse of CO2 that happened about 56 million years ago, when global temperatures soared and carbon sediments in the oceans simply dissolved, while some marine organisms went extinct. They traced the rate of acidification during that era by analyzing fossil chemistry, finding that ocean acidity may have increased by a 100 percent in just a few thousand years — and today’s rate is even higher.

Publishing the results of their study in the journal Paleoceanography, the scientists explained that the sudden increase kept acidity levels high for about 70,000 years and radically changed the ocean environment.
Continue reading

Oceans: West Coast oysters facing multiple threats

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Oysters face an uncertain future.

Climate change makes young oysters more vulnerable to invasive snails

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — West Coast oysters could be facing a double whammy of global warming and invasive snails, according researchers with University of California, Davis’ Bodega Marine Laboratory.

Lab tests suggests that, as oceans become more acidic from the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, oysters will be smaller, and invasive snails will take a bigger toll.

Specifically, invasive snails ate 20 percent more juvenile oysters when both species were raised under ocean conditions forecast for the end of this century The results highlight the dangers of multiple stressors on ecosystems, said Eric Sanford, professor of evolution and ecology at UC Davis and first author on the study. Continue reading

Study tracks natural variability of ocean acidity

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Ocean acidification will have impacts on most life in the coastal zone. bberwyn photo.

‘For vulnerable coastal marine ecosystems, this may be adding insult to injury …’

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — In addition to the long-term threat of ocean acidification resulting from increased atmospheric greenhouse gases, marine organisms also must deal with short-term spikes of increased acidity.

Those acute episodes are caused by a variety of natural factors, including temperature and algal activity, according to a new study led by researchers with Duke University, who took a close look at natural cycles of acidity in a North Carolina estuary.

“The natural short-term variability in acidity we observed over the course of one year exceeds 100-year global predictions for the ocean as a whole,” said  Zackary I. Johnson, a molecular biologists at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment. Continue reading

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