Posts tagged with CO2

written by Kristen Gelineau, AP.

"Oceans absorb excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, leading to an increase in acidity. Scientists are worried about how that increase will affect sea life, particularly reefs, as higher acid levels make it tough for coral skeletons to form. Lubchenco likened ocean acidification to osteoporosis – a bone-thinning disease – because researchers are concerned it will lead to the deterioration of reefs."

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mohandasgandhi:

“We are entering an unknown territory of marine ecosystem change;” ocean acidification called “evil twin” of climate change.
The Earth’s oceans are becoming more acidic at a faster rate than at any time in the past 300 million years due to increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, a new study shows.

The study, published in the journal Science, details the work of 21 scientists from the U.S. and Europe.

“The geological record suggests that the current acidification is potentially unparalleled in at least the last 300 million years of Earth history, and raises the possibility that we are entering an unknown territory of marine ecosystem change,” said co-author Andy Ridgwell of Bristol University.

The Albany Times Union explains:

Ocean acidification works like this: Burning of fossil fuels like oil, coal and natural gas releases the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere, There, the gas keeps more of the heat from the sun from radiating back into space, a process that an international scientific consensus says is gradually raising the planet’s temperature.

At the same time, about a quarter of the increasing CO2 is being absorbed by the oceans, where it is converted into carbonic acid. This is steadily making the ocean more acidic, which among other things can harm the ability of sea creatures to thrive, or make hard shells or skeletons. Rising acidification can also affect marine organisms by causing slower growth, fewer offspring, muscle wastage and dwarfism.

Some scientists have called this gradual process the “evil twin” of climate change.

The study “raises the possibility that we are entering an unknown territory of marine ecosystem change,” said Andy Ridgwell, a professor of planetary modeling at the University of Bristol who took part in the study.

Agence France-Presse reports on the study:

The acidification may be worse than during four major mass extinctions in history when natural pulses of carbon from asteroid impacts and volcanic eruptions caused global temperatures to soar, said the study in the journal Science. […]

They found only one time in history that came close to what scientists are seeing today in terms of ocean life die-off — a mysterious period known as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum about 56 million years ago.

Though the reason for the carbon upsurge back then remains a source of debate, scientists believe that the doubling of harmful emissions drove up global temperatures by about six degrees Celsius and caused big losses of ocean life. […]

“We know that life during past ocean acidification events was not wiped out — new species evolved to replace those that died off,” said lead author Barbel Honisch, a paleoceanographer at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

“But if industrial carbon emissions continue at the current pace, we may lose organisms we care about — coral reefs, oysters, salmon.”

Honish and colleagues said the current rate of ocean acidification is at least 10 times faster than it was 56 million years ago.

Ars Technica adds:

While the authors frequently point out the difficulty in teasing apart the effects of ocean acidification and climate change, they argue that this is really an academic exercise. It’s more useful to consider the witches’ brew with all the ingredients—acidification, temperature change, and changes in dissolved oxygen—since, historically, those have come together. That combination produces unequivocally bad news.

The authors conclude, “[T]he current rate of (mainly fossil fuel) CO2 release stands out as capable of driving a combination and magnitude of ocean geochemical changes potentially unparalleled in at least the last ~300 [million years] of Earth history, raising the possibility that we are entering an unknown territory of marine ecosystem change.”

Ocean acidification is something I’ve talked about quite a bit on this blog and it’s an extremely important issue. You can read my posts on the topic here, here, here, here, and here.

I’m with Anna: ocean acidification is one the most critical issues today.

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theeconomist:

Daily chart: climate change. A new measure of global warming, intended partly to address the concerns of “legitimate sceptics”, offers fresh evidence that the world is warming fast.

theeconomist:

Daily chart: climate change. A new measure of global warming, intended partly to address the concerns of “legitimate sceptics”, offers fresh evidence that the world is warming fast.

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Scientists have figured out — with the precise numbers deduced only recently — that forests have been absorbing more than a quarter of the carbon dioxide that people are putting into the air by burning fossil fuels and other activities. It is an amount so large that trees are effectively absorbing the emissions from all the world’s cars and trucks.

Without that disposal service, the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would be rising faster. The gas traps heat from the sun, and human emissions are causing the planet to warm.

Yet the forests have only been able to restrain the increase, not halt it. And some scientists are increasingly worried that as the warming accelerates, trees themselves could become climate-change victims on a massive scale.

“At the same time that we’re recognizing the potential great value of trees and forests in helping us deal with the excess carbon we’re generating, we’re starting to lose forests,” said Thomas W. Swetnam, an expert on forest history at the University of Arizona.

Click link to read the full article.

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A few hundred yards from the preceding scene, CO₂ bubbling from seafloor vents acidifies the water to levels that might one day prevail all over the oceans. Dull mats of algae replace the colorful diversity—”fair warning,” says biologist Jason Hall-Spencer.Read what anthropogenic acidification is doing to our oceans and how, by 2100, this scene could be widespread: The Acid Sea

A few hundred yards from the preceding scene, CO₂ bubbling from seafloor vents acidifies the water to levels that might one day prevail all over the oceans. Dull mats of algae replace the colorful diversity—”fair warning,” says biologist Jason Hall-Spencer.

Read what anthropogenic acidification is doing to our oceans and how, by 2100, this scene could be widespread: The Acid Sea

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This is what a healthy seafloor looks like: sponges, barnacles, lilac coralline algae, sea urchins; the fish is a tompot blenny, etc. Life thrives.The photo is of the island Castello Aragonese, a volcanic island off Naples.Read what acidification is doing to the oceans: The Acid Sea.

This is what a healthy seafloor looks like: sponges, barnacles, lilac coralline algae, sea urchins; the fish is a tompot blenny, etc. Life thrives.

The photo is of the island Castello Aragonese, a volcanic island off Naples.

Read what acidification is doing to the oceans: The Acid Sea.


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