Published 4 July 2012
Remote sensors and research cruises aim to measure aquatic impacts of carbon dioxide.
A global effort to track ocean acidification has begun to take shape, as researchers this week made plans to set up an international network of monitoring stations.
The seas absorb roughly one-quarter of the carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere each year. This makes the water more acidic, and can affect sea creatures, even weakening the calcium carbonate shells or skeletons of organisms such as corals, oysters and some types of marine plankton.
Researchers estimate that ocean acidity has risen by about 30% since the Industrial Revolution in the nineteenth century, but they need better data to improve assessments of where the problem is most severe, and to model future trends.
Much of what is known about acidification comes from a handful of open-ocean sites that scientists have returned to monthly for the past few decades, and from research cruises that span the globe. “It’s a very expensive way to do monitoring,” says Richard Feely, an oceanographer at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, Washington.
Continue reading ‘Global network will track acidifying oceans’
Published 3 July 2012
Une étude inédite est en préparation près de Nice : elle vise à déterminer comment les coquillages et les plantes aquatiques méditerranéennes réagissent à l’acidification des océans dûe au CO2.
Le gaz carbonique (CO2), émis en quantités de plus en plus importantes par l’homme, est le principal gaz à effet de serre. S’il est à l’origine de la hausse de la température mondiale, il est aussi responsable d’une acidification rapide des océans qui absorbent le quart du CO2 émis.
Ainsi, de 8,2 en 1800, le pH moyen des océans pourrait atteindre 7,75 vers 2100. Une baisse a priori peu spectaculaire mais qui signifie en fait que l’acidité océanique pourrait avoir été multipliée par 2,5 en 300 ans, selon Jean-Pierre Gattuso, directeur de recherche au Laboratoire d’océanographie de Villefranche.
Continue reading ‘La Méditerranée concernée par l’acidification des océans (in French)’
Published 3 July 2012
Media coverage , Science
Some coral reef fish may be better prepared to cope with rising CO2 in the world’s oceans – thanks to their parents.
Researchers at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (CoECRS) today reported in the journal Nature Climate Change, encouraging new findings that some fish may be less vulnerable to high CO2 and an acidifying ocean than previously feared.
“There has been a lot of concern around the world about recent findings that baby fish are highly vulnerable to small increases in acidity, as more CO2 released by human activities dissolves into the oceans,” says Dr Gabi Miller of CoECRS and James Cook University.
Continue reading ‘Fish learn to cope in a high CO2 world’
Published 3 July 2012
Les poissons pourraient s’adapter mieux que prévu à des températures et à une acidité plus élevées des océans, conséquences attendues du changement climatique, estime une étude publiée dimanche 1er juillet dans la revue Nature Climate Change.
Des études menées en Australie sur des poissons clown montrent que les juvéniles résistent mieux à une température et une acidité plus élevée de l’eau si leurs parents ont eux-mêmes fait face à des conditions similaires.
Continue reading ‘Et si les poissons s’adaptaient au changement climatique ? (in French)’
Carbon dioxide concentrations in the surface ocean are increasing owing to rising CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere1. Higher CO2 levels are predicted to affect essential physiological processes of many aquatic organisms2, 3, leading to widespread impacts on marine diversity and ecosystem function, especially when combined with the effects of global warming4, 5, 6. Yet the ability for marine species to adjust to increasing CO2 levels over many generations is an unresolved issue. Here we show that ocean conditions projected for the end of the century (approximately 1,000 μatm CO2 and a temperature rise of 1.5–3.0 °C) cause an increase in metabolic rate and decreases in length, weight, condition and survival of juvenile fish. However, these effects are absent or reversed when parents also experience high CO2 concentrations. Our results show that non-genetic parental effects can dramatically alter the response of marine organisms to increasing CO2 and demonstrate that some species have more capacity to acclimate to ocean acidification than previously thought.
Continue reading ‘Parental environment mediates impacts of increased carbon dioxide on a coral reef fish’
Anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are acidifying the ocean, affecting calcification rates in pelagic organisms, and thereby modifying the oceanic carbon and alkalinity cycles. However, the responses of pelagic calcifying organisms to acidification vary widely between species, contributing uncertainty to predictions of atmospheric CO2 and the resulting climate change. At the same time, ocean warming caused by rising CO2 is expected to drive increased growth rates of all pelagic organisms, including calcifiers. It thus remains unclear whether anthropogenic CO2 emissions will ultimately increase or decrease pelagic calcification rates. Here, we assess the importance of this uncertainty by introducing a dependence of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) production on calcite saturation state (ΩCaCO3) in an intermediate complexity coupled carbon-climate model. In a series of model simulations, we examine the impact of several variants of this dependence on global ocean carbon cycling between 1800 and 3500 under two different CO2 emissions scenarios. Introducing a calcification-saturation state dependence has a significant effect on the vertical and surface horizontal alkalinity gradients, as well as on the removal of alkalinity from the ocean through CaCO3 burial. These changes result in an additional oceanic uptake of carbon when calcification depends on ΩCaCO3 (of up to 270 Pg C), compared to the case where calcification does not depend on acidification. In turn, this response causes a reduction of global surface air temperature of up to 0.4 °C in year 3500. Different versions of the model produced varying results, and narrowing this range of uncertainty will require better understanding of both temperature and acidification effects on pelagic calcifiers. Nevertheless, our results suggest that alkalinity observations can be used to constrain model results, and may not be consistent with the model versions that simulated stronger responses of CaCO3 production to changing saturation state.
Continue reading ‘Calcium carbonate production response to future ocean warming and acidification (update)’
Published 3 July 2012
Research headed by a Swansea University marine biologist has offered potential solution to endangered coral reefs around the world’s oceans.
Dr Richard Unsworth’s team included scientists from Oxford University and James Cook University in Australia. They found varieties of seagrass which may reduce the acidity of water around reefs, protecting them from erosion.
Continue reading ‘Seagrass solution theory for endangered coral reefs’