Ocean acidification due to excessive release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is threatening to produce large-scale changes to the marine ecosystem affecting all levels of the food chain, a University of B.C. marine biologist warned Friday.
Chris Harley, associate professor in the department of zoology, warned that ocean acidification also carries serious financial implications by making it more difficult for species such as oysters, clams, and sea urchins to build shells and skeletons from calcium carbonate. Acidic water is expected to result in thinner, slower-growing shells, and reduced abundance. Larvae can be especially vulnerable to acidity.
NORMANBY ISLAND, Papua New Guinea — Katharina Fabricius plunged from a dive boat into the Pacific Ocean of tomorrow.
She kicked through blue water until she spotted a ceramic tile attached to the bottom of a reef.
A year earlier, the ecologist from the Australian Institute of Marine Science had placed this small square near a fissure in the sea floor where gas bubbles up from the earth. She hoped the next generation of baby corals would settle on it and take root.
Fabricius yanked a knife from her ankle holster, unscrewed the plate and pulled it close. Even underwater the problem was clear. Tiles from healthy reefs nearby were covered with budding coral colonies in starbursts of red, yellow, pink and blue. This plate was coated with a filthy film of algae and fringed with hairy sprigs of seaweed.
Instead of a brilliant new coral reef, what sprouted here resembled a slimy lake bottom.
Isolating the cause was easy. Only one thing separated this spot from the lush tropical reefs a few hundred yards away.
California and Oregon are joining forces to help address ocean acidification and hypoxia, a West Coast-wide thereat to our shared marine and coastal ecosystem. The California Natural Resources Agency , on behalf of the California Ocean Protection Council (OPC), today signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the state of Oregon to jointly sponsor a high-level science panel to help address the issue of ocean acidification and hypoxia.
In the summer of 2013 NOAA conducted an in-depth ocean acidification investigation along the U.S. West Coast! Sailing from Seattle, WA to Moss Landing, CA, chemists and biologists on board NOAA Ship Fairweather sampled and analyzed water, alga and plankton in an effort to better understand how the marine ecosystem is responding to corrosive effects caused by changing ocean chemistry.
Acidification, which is driven by increases in human-caused fossil fuel burning, is particularly threatening West Coast waters given the region’s unique hydrology and large biological communities. Data from this cruise may help America's fishing industry and state and local officials can plan, prepare and protect its commercially-valuable ecosystems.
NOAA, academic and international scientific experts are gathering July 24 -26, to further develop the Global Ocean Acidification Network (GOA-ON). The purpose of this network is to facilitate international coordination in order to compare and integrate observational data collection specific to ocean acidification across the globe. This group is designing a global standard for measuring and identifying ocean acidification and is important for establishing a global understanding of ocean acidification including its impacts on ocean life as well as humans. This network will ensure data quality and comparability, facilitated by a structured system based on common standards. It will also assist policy-making through research products and model-based projections of future potential impacts of ocean acidification.