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

Report shows growing impacts of ocean acidification

CU-Boulder scientists study document decline of calcification rates in marine organisms around Antarctica

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The Southern Ocean may lose its ability to function as a carbon sink. bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

*More Summit Voice stories on ocean acidification

FRISCO — The steady increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide is already causing large-scale shifts in the ocean carbon cycle, according to University of Colorado, Boulder scientists, who calculated the calcification rate of marine organisms in the Southern Ocean.

According to the scientists there has been a 24 percent decline in the amount of calcium carbonate produced in large areas of the Southern Ocean over the past 17 years. Continue reading

Report says ocean acidification likely to take a big economic toll on coastal communities

New England, Gulf of Mexico, Mid-Atlantic regions all vulnerable to ocean acidification threats

Love oysters? Then you should be worried about global warming.

Love oysters? Then you should be worried about global warming. bberwyn photo

Staff Report

FRISCO — Some coastal communities with long traditions of relying on shellfish to support their economies could be facing a triple whammy of pollution.

Increasing ocean acidification, combined with cold, upwelling water and polluted runoff from land could put many of those communities at long-term economic risk, according to a new study funded by the National Science Foundation’s National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center.

“Ocean acidification has already cost the oyster industry in the Pacific Northwest nearly $110 million and jeopardized about 3,200 jobs,” said Julie Ekstrom, who was lead author on the study while with the Natural Resources Defense Council. She is now at the University of California at Davis. Continue reading

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