Ocean Chemistry

April 19, 2016

a52285ccb8f107a55bcb6e7f500a9aa0A goodly part of California is the Pacific Ocean. Although just hugging our coast, the Pacific carries a shitload of influence all over, spread out vast to the west from where I’m sitting, and is apparently getting smothered.
Climate change and the ‘other CO2 problem.’

Oceans absorb about a quarter of the CO2, changing the chemistry of the seawater, a process called ocean acidification. And California could feel the first bite.
From the LA Times this morning: ‘“Although ocean acidification is a global phenomenon, emerging research indicates that the U.S.-Canadian West Coast will face some of the earliest, most severe changes in ocean carbon chemistry,” the report says.’

Problems beyond just shellfish and abalone…

(Illustration found here).

Deep-seated damage: ‘“If the oceans die, we die,” said Jason Scorse, director of the Center for the Blue Economy of Monterey. “And if the oceans die, it’s mostly going to be (because of) ocean acidification.”

Key points from the Times story:

Because of the way the Pacific Ocean circulates, the West Coast is exposed to more acidic water than other areas of the globe.
Oyster production in the Pacific Northwest has already declined, as changes in ocean chemistry tamper with shell formation, and scientists warn that popular game fish and other species are also at risk.
“For some organisms, and perhaps ultimately for some ecosystems, high carbon dioxide levels where they had not previously been expected could be a problem,” said Andrew Dickson, a professor of marine chemistry at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and a member of the panel.
Disturbance of ocean chemistry is the lesser known twin to the atmospheric warming and weather changes wrought by climate change.
About a third of the carbon released by humans is absorbed by the ocean, according to the report.
That keeps some of the excess carbon out of the air but creates its own problems when carbon dioxide reacts with water.
Together, they form a weak acid that sours the sea.

Same same wheel we have to turn, in the ocean and on dry land. Bruce Steele, a longtime sea urchin fisher and member of California Current Acidification Network: ‘“We’re going to have a lot of trouble in the open ocean. The way we deal with environments we can’t control is we have to try to control other inputs and stresses on the environment. The first thing is to try and not emit as much CO2.”


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