"Stanford researchers have gotten a glimpse into an uncertain future where increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere will lead to higher levels in the ocean as well, leaving the water more acidic and altering underwater ecosystems."
To read a scientific article entitled, "Oceans' increasing acidity likely to hurt biodiversity "which the above sentence came from please click on the highlighted words in this sentence.
What is Ocean Acidification?
"Simply defined as the ongoing decrease in the pH levels of the earth’s oceans caused by an uptake of atmospheric carbon dioxide, the average pH of the oceans decreased by 0.075 from 1751 to 1994. Though this seems like a very small amount, this roughly 0.5% decrease still has great consequences, and is estimated to get progressively worse within the next 100 years (an additional surface water pH decrease of 0.3 is expected by the end of the century)."
"The ocean is the world’s main sink for anthropogenic (resulting from human activities) carbon dioxide, absorbing roughly 1/3 of what is released (approximately 525 billion tons). Though this absortion has greatly helped by reducing the amount of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, is has contributed to increased temperatures and pH levels of the ocean."
"Ocean acidification occurs when carbon dioxide reacts with seawater generating carbonic acid, which breaks down into bicarbonate and a hydrogen ion, and further into carbonate and a hydrogen ion. These hydrogen ions are what contribute to decreased pH levels, making the oceans more acidic. The reduction in pH also reduces the availability of these carbonate ions which are vital for the formation of many marine organisms such as coral, shellfish, and plankton. Declines in these species would have devastating effects as they are the beginning of many food chains, are tourist attractions, and are necessary for successful fisheries. When the ocean becomes undersaturated with carbonate, structures made of calcium carbonate (shells and plates are made from this compound) will begin to dissolve. The lose os these species is thought to cause changes in Earth’s albedo, which is how reflective it is of sunlight. Altering the ocean’s albedo would also change its temperature, energy fluxes between the ocean and the environment, atmospheric and oceanic circulation patterns, precipitation, the carbon cycle, sea ice, and vegetation." (source: http://asjohnson.wordpress.com/2010/06/20/ocean-acidification-101/
This is what an expert says we all must do on the planet to reduce the Acidification of our oceans!:
Dr Richard Feely: "Ocean acidification is caused by excessive CO2 emissions from fossil-fuel burning. Collectively, all the countries in the world release about 7 billion metric tons of carbon as CO2 into the atmosphere each year. The oceans take up about 2 billion tons of carbon annually. This means that as long as we continue to release excessive amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere the oceans will continue to undergo ocean acidification. Consequently, no one group or nation can reduce ocean acidification. All nations must work together to solve this problem."
("Dr. Richard A. Feely is a Senior Scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, WA. He also holds an affiliate full professor faculty position at the University of Washington School of Oceanography. His major research areas are carbon cycling and ocean acidification processes in the oceans. He received a B.A. in chemistry from the University of St. Thomas, in St Paul, Minnesota in 1969. He then went onto Texas A&M University where he received both an M.S. degree in 1971 and a Ph.D. degree in 1974 in the field of chemical oceanography. He is also a member of the U.S. Science Steering Committees for the U.S. Carbon Cycle Science Program and the U.S. Carbon and Biochemistry Program. He is a member of the American Geophysical Union and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Dr. Feely has authored more than 180 refereed research publications. He was awarded the Department of Commerce Gold Award in 2006 for his pioneering research on ocean acidification. In 2007, Dr. Feely was elected to be a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union. source:http://oneocean.cbc.ca/series/experts/richard-feely )
Well now it is up to all of us! We must put aside our differences and work together to help reduce the level to which the Planet's oceans have been acidified by our actions!
Question: How is it possible to cut back on fossil energy - with China and India among others growing rapidly. - Phil Kithil Answer: Dr Scott Doney: There are broadly three approaches, all of which will need to be adopted by both the developed world and China and India in order to make a large impact on atmospheric CO2. These approaches are: increase energy conservation and efficiency; transition to non-CO2 emitting energy sources; sequester some of the CO2 from fossil fuel use (e.g., into old oil and gas wells; replanted forests, etc.). One argument is that if the developed world with there already high standard of living and past CO2 emissions does not lead on this effort, it is hard to expect the developing world to potentially slow their economic growth (and increased standard of living) to reduce CO2 emissions. (Dr. Doney is Senior Scientist in the Marine Chemistry & Geochemistry Department at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. You can see his academic profile by clicking on the following link:
"Will ocean acidification kill all ocean life?
No. However, many scientists think that ocean acidification will lead to important changes in marine ecosystems. This prediction is largely based on geologic history: millions of years ago, marine ecosystems experienced rapid changes during ocean acidification events, including some species extinctions (see “OA in Geologic History” below). Today, some species and the ecosystems they sustain are threatened by ocean acidification, particularly in combination with other climate changes such as ocean warming. Examples include tropical corals, deep-sea corals, and swimming snails. These species play key roles in the oceans either because they build three-dimensional structures, which host a considerable biodiversity, or because they are key components of the food chain. Some species that build calcium carbonate structures, such as coral reefs, also provide key services to humans by providing food, protecting shorelines, and supporting tourism. Evidence for the ecological effects of ocean acidification today can be found at “champagne sites,” locations where volcanic CO2 vents naturally acidify the water and small CO2 bubbles rise through the water column. At one of these sites around the Island of Ischia (Italy), for example, biodiversity is reduced by 30% at the acidity level that matches the level expected globally in 2100." — Jean-Pierre Gattuso, Senior Scientist, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and Université Pierre et Marie Curie-Paris 6, France; Jason Hall-Spencer, Marine Biology Lecturer, University of Plymouth, UK
How can we as individuals and as a species reduce the level to which our Oceans are being acidified?
"There is only one practical way to avoid ocean acidification, and that is by reducing our emissions of carbon dioxide.
Dr. Lubchenco " is a marine ecologist and environmental scientist by training, with expertise in oceans, climate change, and interactions between the environment and human well-being. She received her B.A. in biology from Colorado College, her M.S. in zoology from the University of Washington, and her Ph.D. in ecology from Harvard University. Her academic career as a professor began at Harvard University (1975-1977) and continued at Oregon State University (1977 - 2009) until her appointment as NOAA administrator.
Dr. Lubchenco has served as president for the American Association for Advancement of Science (AAAS), the International Council for Science, and the Ecological Society of America, and was a board member for the National Science Board." (source:http://www.noaa.gov/lubchenco.html )