Acidic Ocean Hits Pacific Northwest

Acidic Ocean Hits Pacific Northwest

Chemical & Engineering News

The path to Cape Flattery is a twisty, moss-carpeted tunnel underneath red cedar and Douglas fir trees that crowd Washington state’s rugged coastline. Micah McCarty scrambles down the forest trail to a shoreline below, leaping across tide pools and slippery rocks to a point where waves break on shellfish beds. We’ve reached the northwesternmost point of the U.S. mainland, a craggy tip of the Olympic Peninsula that belongs to the Makah tribe.

This group of Native Americans has been fishing and harvesting here for the past 2,000 years. McCarty, the tribe’s 42-year-old former chairman, pulls out a pocket knife and squats down to scrape a handful of mussels and barnacles into his hand. “We call them slippers and boots,” he says. “I’ll make them into a Makah paella tonight.”

McCarty and his family grew up picking these marine delights along the coast. Oysters, clams, cockles, barnacles, and other types of mollusks and shellfish have always been part of the Makah diet, as well as the tribe’s culture. The shells are used both as beads in ceremonial regalia and as musical instruments. But now, changes in the global climate have led to rising ocean acidification that has put in peril the future of the Makah harvest.

Monday, March 25, 2013
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Study shows Gulf of Maine likely to be more sensitive to ocean acidification

ClimateWire

Most of the research on ocean acidification has focused on the West Coast, where scientists have known upwelling from the deep ocean makes those coastal environments particularly vulnerable to acidification spurred by climate change.

Work by researcher Zhaohui "Aleck" Wang, a chemical oceanographer at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and a team of colleagues who surveyed the entire Atlantic coast shows that the Gulf of Maine in the northeast Atlantic may also be at risk.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013
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Acid test: Threat to oceans may also harm Great Lakes

Acid test: Threat to oceans may also harm Great Lakes

The Great Lakes Echo

The increased carbon dioxide changing the water chemistry and ecology of oceans may also be affecting freshwater and the organisms that live in it.

It’s called ocean acidification. But some researchers suspect it will impact the Great Lakes.

“Based on our preliminary modeling and understanding of carbon cycles, we think similar acidification trends will take place in the Great Lakes to the degree that researchers are expecting in the oceans,” said Galen McKinley, a professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences at the University of Wisconsin.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013
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Are Oysters Doomed? Don’t believe in climate change? Talk to a clam digger.

The Slate

Unlike other problems caused by CO2, ocean acidification is spurring some action, possibly because the effects are so visibly tied to the cause. “With climate change there’s often a schism between scientists and those who flat out don’t want to believe it,” says Green. “It’s hard to get a man to believe something if his job depends on not believing it.” But in this case, he says, it’s the people in the industry who are leading awareness. “Talk to shellfish clammers—the guys who dig—and every one of them is on board, especially the old timers. They have seen over the years the populations go from incredibly productive to virtually disappearing in many cases.” One bit of anecdotal evidence diggers have reported is clams with thinner shells—so thin, they say, that sometimes it’s not possible to fill bushel baskets to the top because the fragile shells at the bottom will be crushed.

Monday, February 18, 2013
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WA’s First Ocean Acidification Legislation

WA’s First Ocean Acidification Legislation

Slightline Daily

On the heels of Washington State’s pioneering efforts to identify local steps to slow ocean acidification, Sen. Kevin Ranker (D-Orcas Island) has introduced legislation to begin coordinating that response. SB 5547 would create a new council of elected and tribal representatives and affected industries to oversee research and action to curb profoundly troubling changes in ocean chemistry.

The bill would also include acidification as a possible justification for extending urban sewer services to rural areas (normally not allowed under the state’s Growth Management Act), in areas where local pollution from leaky septic systems combines with global carbon dioxide emissions to make the problem worse.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013
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