Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Ocean Acidification

Ocean acidification has not yet been a major contributor to ocean problems but more and more studies have been focusing on this.  According to NOAA the ocean absorbs approximately a quarter of the Carbon Dioxide we release into the air every year.  As we discussed in class acidification of waters can happen through the reaction shown below and has the potential to hurt many habitats.  
Ocean Acidification Illustration
Since this is just recently becoming noticeable in the oceans first signs of effects on the wildlife are beginning to appear.  The most noticed problem is inability to form calcium carbonate structures, which has been effecting mostly corals and animal that secrete shells.  
In one study done at Oregon State University there was signs that acid environment during larval development of oysters lead to an inability to grow correctly and to low recruitment levels   This immediately has an affect on businesses using oysters and other shelled animals to make a profit, but will soon be noticeable in the environment.  The reduction of these animals may be an indication of future problems to come and act as a sort of "canary in the coal mine" for the ocean.   
Although the results of this ocean acidification have not been immediately evident there are beginning to be signs that it is affecting the wildlife.  Since there are calcium carbonate animals such as corals that are already being greatly reduced in numbers it is important the situation becomes controlled as soon as possible.  Also, since areas of upwelling will soon be bringing waters that were previously acidified the situation will not just get better on its own.  

References

2 comments:

  1. I did a project on this last year. It's pretty interesting stuff. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. Did you come across what was affecting ocean acidification the most? Is it more of a natural process, carbon from the atmosphere, emissions from humans (global warming). I know there are several opinions on reasoning for ocean acidification but I did not know what ideas you came across in your research.

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