Climate: Deep oceans likely to feel CO2 legacy for centuries

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Melting sea ice around Greenland. @bberwyn photo.

‘If we do not implement emissions reductions measures in line with the 2 degrees Celsius target in time, we will not be able to preserve ocean life as we know it’

Staff Report

FRISCO — Removing CO2 from the atmosphere as a last-ditch effort to avoid dangerous climate change probably wouldn’t be enough to ameliorate impacts to the world’s oceans, where the legacy of carbon pollution will likely play out for centuries to come in the form of deep ocean heat and increasing acidification.

These changes would linger even if the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration were to be restored to pre-industrial levels at some point in the future, according to a new Nature Climate Change paper from an international team including Ken Caldeira, of the Carnegie Institution. This is due to the tremendous inertia of the ocean system. Continue reading

Climate: Study assesses impacts of warmer water, ocean acidification on Antarctic fish

Reserarchers see changes in embryo development

sdfg Report on the deep-sea fishes collected by H.M.S. Challenger during the years 1873-1876 Günther, Albert C. L. G. (Albert Carl Ludwig Gotthilf), 1830-1914

A drawing of an Antarctic dragonfish from a report on the deep-sea fishes collected by H.M.S. Challenger during the years 1873-1876.  Günther, Albert C. L. G. (Albert Carl Ludwig Gotthilf).

Staff Report

FRISCO — In another clue as to how warmer and more acidic waters will affect ocean life, scientists with the University of California Davis and San Francisco State University have found that the combination speeds up the development of dragonfish larvae.

The researchers studied the fish in part because their embryos are slow to form, which could make them more susceptible to changed conditions. The findings suggest that higher levels of CO2 and warmer waters have a big impact on the survival and development of the Antarctic dragonfish. The research article was published in the journal Conservation Physiology. Continue reading

Climate study projects big impacts to phytoplankton

Scientists ‘shocked’ by scope of changes

Scientists working in the Gulf of Mexico are tracking BP's spilled oil as it works its way up the food web, from bacteria to plankton. PHOTO COURTESY NOAA.

Scientists say there will dramatic changes in ocean plankton communities by the end of the 21st century. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Global warming is likely to have a big effect on the abundance and diversity of ocean phytoplankton, with some species dying out and other flourishing, researchers said after completing a study that tries to anticipate the impacts of ocean acidification.

Since pre-industrial times, the pH of the oceans has dropped from an average of 8.2 to 8.1 today, and by end of the century, could drop to 7.8 — much lower than any levels seen in open ocean marine communities today. Continue reading

Climate: Ocean acidification threatens Alaska’s burgeoning shellfish hatchery industry

Costly seawater treatment may be needed by 2040

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Shellfish are particularly vulnerable to ocean acidification. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Ocean water around parts of Alaska is acidifying so fast that shellfish hatcheries may soon have to use costly treatment systems to continue commercial operations.

“Our research shows there could be significant effects from ocean acidification on Alaska’s emerging shellfish hatchery industry in a matter of two and half decades,” said Jeremy Mathis, Ph.D., an oceanographer at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory and a co-author of the study, published this week in PLOS ONE.

“We need to continue to partner with industry and other stakeholders to make sure we’re providing the environmental intelligence needed by industry to answer key questions and make decisions to meet these challenges,” Mathis said. Continue reading

Climate: Conservation group tries new path to limiting CO2 emissions

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Increasingly corrosive ocean waters pose a serious threat to shell-building species and other marine life.

‘Future generations will look back and wonder why we didn’t do everything we could to save the world’s oceans …’

Staff Report

FRISCO — Citing the growing threat to the world’s oceans, environmental advocates want the federal government to regulate carbon dioxide under the Toxic Substances Control Act.

The regulations have been used to limit emissions of other harmful chemicals, including chlorofluorocarbons, PCBs and asbestos.

“Time’s running out to avoid a mass extinction of wildlife in our oceans,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “It may not look like a toxic chemical, but when there’s too much CO2 in the ocean, it turns seawater corrosive and dissolves the protective shells that marine animals need to survive,” Sakashita said. Continue reading

Climate: Ocean acidification could reach critical level in key Alaska fishing grounds before mid-century

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Pteropods swimming in the Scotia Sea, where scientists have also tracked the impacts of ocean acidification. Photo courtesy British Antarctic Survey.

Impacts likely to ripple through ocean ecosystem

Staff Report

FRISCO — Parts of the Arctic Ocean are acidifying so fast that some marine species may see their ability to build and maintain shells threatened as early as 2030, according to new research by NOAA, the University of Alaska, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

The study, published in the journal Oceanography, shows that surface waters of the Chukchi and Beaufort seas could reach a critical level of acidity within 15 years, with the Bering Sea reaching the threshold by 2044. Continue reading

Climate: How much acidification can the oceans take?

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Rising CO2 concentrations present fundamental threat to oceans.

Current rate of acidification similar to changes during ancient extinction event

Staff Report

FRISCO — Climate scientists are constantly looking at the past to try and understand the present and forecast the future, and new study by University of Edinburgh researchers offers some worrisome clues about the current rate of ocean acidification.

After tracing changes in ocean chemistry that happened more than 250 million years ago, the scientists said that today’s rate of ocean acidification is similar to changes that led to the greatest known extinctions of marine life during the so-called Permian-Triassic Boundary extinction, which wiped out more than 90 per cent of marine species and more than two-thirds of the animals living on land. Continue reading

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