The acidification of the world’s oceans from an excess of CO2 has already begun, as evidenced recently by the widespread mortality of oyster larvae in the Pacific Northwest. Scientists say this is just a harbinger of things to come if greenhouse gas emissions continue to soar.
Elizabeth Grossman: Yale Environment 360
|This graph illustrates the correlation between rising levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere at the Mauna Loa observatory off Hawaii with rising CO2 levels in the ocean. As more CO2 accumulates in the ocean, the pH of the ocean decreases. (Courtesy of NOAA/Modified after R.A. Feely, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society|
Ocean acidification — which makes it difficult for shellfish, corals, sea urchins, and other creatures to form the shells or calcium-based structures they need to live — was supposed to be a problem of the future. But because of patterns of ocean circulation, Pacific Northwest shellfish are already on the front lines of these potentially devastating changes in ocean chemistry. Colder, more acidic waters are welling up from the depths of the Pacific Ocean and streaming ashore in the fjords, bays, and estuaries of Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, exacting an environmental and economic toll on the region’s famed oysters.
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Northwest Oyster Die-offs Show Ocean Acidification Has Arrived by Elizabeth Grossman: Yale Environment 360
Here's a link to a scientific seminar presentation providing a detailed overview of ocean acidification. Dr. Chris Sabine presents a seminar on ocean acidification as a part of the “Climate Science 101″ short course sponsored jointly by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), at George Mason University, and NOAA. This session reviews ongoing impacts of acidification on marine ecology and projections of likely future impacts on marine life if this trend continues.