Science official: Ocean acidity major reef threat

Jul 09, 2012 by KRISTEN GELINEAU
In this Jan. 23, 2006 file photo provided by Centre of Marine Studies, The University of Queensland, fish swim amongst bleached coral near the Keppel Islands in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Ocean acidification has emerged as one of the biggest threats to coral reefs across the world, acting as the "osteoporosis of the sea" and threatening everything from food security to tourism to livelihoods, the head of a U.S. scientific agency said Monday, July 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Centre for Marine Studies, The University of Queensland, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, File)

(AP) — Oceans' rising acid levels have emerged as one of the biggest threats to coral reefs, acting as the "osteoporosis of the sea" and threatening everything from food security to tourism to livelihoods, the head of a U.S. scientific agency said Monday.

The speed by which the oceans' acid levels has risen caught scientists off-guard, with the problem now considered to be climate change's "equally evil twin," National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration chief Jane Lubchenco told The Associated Press.

"We've got sort of the perfect storm of stressors from multiple places really hammering reefs around the world," said Lubchenco, who was in Australia to speak at the International Coral Reef Symposium in the northeast city of Cairns, near the Great Barrier Reef. "It's a very serious situation."

Oceans absorb excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, leading to an increase in acidity. Scientists are worried about how that increase will affect sea life, particularly reefs, as higher acid levels make it tough for coral skeletons to form. Lubchenco likened ocean acidification to osteoporosis — a bone-thinning disease — because researchers are concerned it will lead to the deterioration of reefs.

In this Sept. 2001 file photo provided by provided by Queensland Tourism, an aerial view shows the Great Barrier Reef off Australia's Queensland state. Ocean acidification has emerged as one of the biggest threats to coral reefs across the world, acting as the "osteoporosis of the sea" and threatening everything from food security to tourism to livelihoods, the head of a U.S. scientific agency said Monday, July 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Queensland Tourism, File) EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Scientists initially assumed that the carbon dioxide absorbed by the water would be sufficiently diluted as the oceans mixed shallow and deeper waters. But most of the carbon dioxide and the subsequent chemical changes are being concentrated in surface waters, Lubchenco said.

"And those surface waters are changing much more rapidly than initial calculations have suggested," she said. "It's yet another reason to be very seriously concerned about the amount of carbon dioxide that is in the atmosphere now and the additional amount we continue to put out."

Higher acidity levels are especially problematic for creatures such as oysters, because they slow the growth of their shells. Experiments have shown other animals, such as clown fish, also suffer. In a study that mimicked the level of acidity scientists expect by the end of the century, clown fish began swimming toward predators, instead of away from them, because their sense of smell had been dulled.

"We're just beginning to uncover many of the ways in which the changing chemistry of oceans affects lots of behaviors," Lubchenco said. "So salmon not being able to find their natal streams because their sense of smell was impaired, that's a very real possibility."

The potential impact of all of this is huge, Lubchenco said. Coral reefs attract critical tourism dollars and protect fragile coastlines from threats such as tsunamis. Seafood is the primary source of protein for many people around the world. Already, some oyster farmers have blamed higher acidity levels for a decrease in stocks.

This undated file photo provided by the Australian Institute of Marine Science shows white coral syndrome in Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Ocean acidification has emerged as one of the biggest threats to coral reefs across the world, acting as the "osteoporosis of the sea" and threatening everything from food security to tourism to livelihoods, the head of a U.S. scientific agency said Monday, July 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Australian Institute of Marine Science, File)

Some attempts to address the problem are already under way. Instruments that measure changing acid levels in the water have been installed in some areas to warn oyster growers when to stop the flow of ocean water to their hatcheries.

But that is only a short-term solution, Lubchenco said. The most critical element, she said, is reducing carbon emissions.

"The carbon dioxide that we have put in the atmosphere will continue to be absorbed by oceans for decades," she said. "It is going to be a long time before we can stabilize and turn around the direction of change simply because it's a big atmosphere and it's a big ocean."

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Birger
3 / 5 (14) Jul 09, 2012
Aaand the denialists turn up to claim all this is a propaganda lie, sponsored by the Illuminati/UN/communists in 3...2...1...
CapitalismPrevails
2.5 / 5 (16) Jul 09, 2012
If the EPA would have let the coal industry develop gasification technology, this supposed acidity threat would be much less of a threat. So it's carbon which pollutes the ocean and not mercury and arsenic? I thought 80% of the world's active volcanoes were under the ocean along the tectonic plates? I wonder how much carbon dioxide and sulfur they produce?
rubberman
4.1 / 5 (13) Jul 09, 2012
Cap, over 99% of ocean species can't live near oceanic vents, and the ones that do are adapted to life there.....guess why.
CapitalismPrevails
2.5 / 5 (16) Jul 09, 2012
Rub, and how long have those oceanic vents existed? Probably ever since there's been life on the planet and are all the fish dead yet?
rubberman
4 / 5 (12) Jul 09, 2012
Cap, the ocean dwelling life is very fortunate that the chemicals that escape from the vents don't form an ever increasing cloud in the vent area and concentrations are dissipated by currents, similar to how there aren't pockets of CO2 ever increasing in size and concentration around everything that produces CO2.
freethinking
2.8 / 5 (13) Jul 09, 2012
If this science is as settled as AGW then I'm not worried. We are already suppose to have how much ocean rise? When Al Gore sells off his ocean front mansions, jets, moster cars, then I'll worry.
ryggesogn2
2.6 / 5 (14) Jul 09, 2012
Corals are the sea equivalent of cacti. Their niche is in nutrient poor waters.
If the world is really worried about reefs, there is plenty of man-made junk that can replace the coral structures. It is the structure that attacks the rest of the life. Oil platforms in the middle of the ocean team with life.
Those worried about the life in the coral reef should invest in and promote seasteading.http://www.seaste...trategy/
They will be creating artificial reefs and they could establish their socialist paradise on the sea.
freethinking
3.2 / 5 (10) Jul 09, 2012
rygg, why do you say seasteading wants to establish a socialist paradise? since you need to pay for a place, isn't it more capitalists? I saw a show on the project, apart from being overly idealistic and sci-fi-ish I saw nothing wrong with the idea.
gregor1
3.7 / 5 (12) Jul 10, 2012
It would me nice if, on a science site, we could have at least one citation to support these catastrophic claims. Does anyone reading this have any? Is this omission deliberate? My undergraduates wouldn't get away with this..
gregor1
2 / 5 (8) Jul 10, 2012
For any one interested in a the counter argument it is pretty well summed up, with actual citations, herehttp://www.quadra...f-oceans
Read and make up your own mind
docmordin
4.5 / 5 (16) Jul 10, 2012
Does anyone reading this have any?


Ask, and ye shall receive:

K. Caldeira and M. E. Wickett, "Ocean model predictions of chemistry changes from carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere and ocean", J. Geophys. Res. 110: C09S04, 2005
Y. Shirayama and H. Thorton, "Effect of increased atmospheric CO2 on shallow water marine benthos", J. Geophys. Res. 110: C09S08, 2005
J. C. Orr, et al., "Anthropogenic ocean acidification over the twenty-first century and its impact on calcifying organisms", Nature 437: 681-686, 2005
S. Widdicombe and H. R. Needham, "Impact of CO2-induced seawater acidification on the burrowing activity of Nereis virens and sediment nutrient flux", Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 341: 111-122, 2007
H. L. Wood, et al., "Ocean acidification may increase calcification rates, but at a cost", Proc. Royal. Soc. B-Biol. Sci. 275: 1767-1773, 2008
M. D. Iglesias-Rodriguez, et al., "Phytoplankton calcification in a high-CO2 world", Science 320: 336-340, 2008
docmordin
4.7 / 5 (14) Jul 10, 2012
S. Collins and G. Bell, "Phenotypic consequences of 1000 generations of selection at elevated CO2 in green alga", Nature 431: 566-569, 2004
M. A. Gutowska, et al., "Growth and calcification in the cephalopod Sepia officinalis under elevated sewater pCO2", Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 737: 303-309, 2008
S. Dupont, et al., "Near-future level of CO2-driven ocean acidification radically effects larval survival and development in the brittlestar Ophiothrix fragilis", Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 373: 285-294, 2008.
A. J. Anderson, et al., "Life on the margin: Implications of ocean acidification on Mg-calcite, high latitude and cold-water marine calcifers", Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 373: 265-273, 2008
W. M. Balch and V. J. Fabry, "Ocean acidification: Documenting its impact on calcifying phytoplankton at basin scales", Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 373: 239-247, 2008
docmordin
4.5 / 5 (15) Jul 10, 2012
S. Barker and H. Elderfield, "Formaminiferal calcification response to glacial-interglacial changes in CO2", Science 297: 833-836, 2002
J. A. Berge, et al., "Effects of increased sea water concentrations of CO2 on growth of the bivalve Mytilus edulis", L. Chemosphere 62: 681-687
T. F. Cooper, et al., "Declining coral calcification in massive Porites in two nearshore regions of the northern Great Barrier Reef", Glob. Change Biol. 144: 529-538, 2008
F. Gazeua, et al., "Impact of elevated CO2 on shellfish calcification", Geophys. Res. Lett. 34: L07603, 2007
K. R. Hinga, "Effects of pH on coastal phytoplankton", Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 283: 281-300, 2002
O. Hoegh-Guldberg, et al., "Coral reefs under rapid climate change and ocean acidification", Science 318: 1737-1742, 2007
P. L. Jokiel, et al., "Ocean acidification and calcifying reef organisms: A mesocosm investigation", Coral Reefs 27: 473-483, 2008
docmordin
4.4 / 5 (7) Jul 10, 2012
Is this omission deliberate?


Yes and no.

It is a deliberate omission in the sense that the above article is from the Associated Press, which is not a research outlet like Science or Nature and hence caters to a group of people that, most likely, doesn't have access to journal papers and conference proceedings; as a result, they tend to not provide citations (I've never seen an instance where they have, aside from mentioning the journal name and possibly one or two authors). At the same time, there are plenty of papers in the literature, some of which I have listed above, that do, in one way or another, touch on and/or validate the claims listed in the article; had one of the editors at physorg felt inclined to include some references, he or she could have done so with ease.
rubberman
4 / 5 (8) Jul 10, 2012
Welcome to Physorg Doc! And thank you for the references. Rygg, read up on Coral formation, it isn't the nutrients that are the problem. Saying they can be replaced with manmade structures is rediculous, that is like saying that trees can be replaced with man made structures.
CapitalismPrevails
2.8 / 5 (9) Jul 10, 2012
that is like saying that trees can be replaced with man made structures.

So we should just replace our coal plants with wind mills, lead acid batteries, and longer power lines to build and maintain? In other words, we should pay more $ for less and therefor kill business?
ryggesogn2
3 / 5 (8) Jul 10, 2012
rygg, why do you say seasteading wants to establish a socialist paradise? since you need to pay for a place, isn't it more capitalists? I saw a show on the project, apart from being overly idealistic and sci-fi-ish I saw nothing wrong with the idea.

I did not say they wanted to, but if a group of socialists had the courage of their conviction they could attempt to create their own socialist sea-stead paradise.
antialias_physorg
3.3 / 5 (7) Jul 10, 2012
So we should just replace our coal plants with wind mills, lead acid batteries, and longer power lines to build and maintain? In other words, we should pay more $ for less and therefor kill business?

If it means survival: yes.

There's no use being rich when the human species is extinct.
CapitalismPrevails
3.3 / 5 (7) Jul 10, 2012
If it means survival: yes.

There's no use being rich when the human species is extinct.

LMAO, and that's not going to be the result of imposing Cap and Tax on the energy industry, therefor creating energy scarcity, and therefore poverty? Just so we can subject ourselves to a dellusional/religious believe in AGW?
antialias_physorg
4.1 / 5 (9) Jul 10, 2012
LMAO, and that's not going to be the result of imposing Cap and Tax on the energy industry, therefor creating energy scarcity, and therefore poverty?

Energy scarcity is worse than food scarcity? If we keep on destroying the oceans and boosting the temperatures to the point where our crop yields will drop to unsustainability then having a few dollars less in the bank or being able to use a few watthours less per day will be the least of our problems.

The economy and the job market are made up things - HUMAN made up things. They take a back seat to reality. If they don't operate anymore on reality then you get a crash. A much larger crash than merely a few stock prices plummeting.
ryggesogn2
3.3 / 5 (7) Jul 10, 2012
Energy scarcity is worse than food scarcity?

Why do you think food is plentiful?
Much energy.
Replace all the tractors with people with hoes, no problem.
rubberman
3.4 / 5 (5) Jul 10, 2012
Energy scarcity is worse than food scarcity?

Why do you think food is plentiful?
Much energy.
Replace all the tractors with people with hoes, no problem.


There are many ways of producing the energy to grow food, and power your tractor without having to burn something to do it.
docmordin
4.8 / 5 (8) Jul 10, 2012
Welcome to Physorg Doc! And thank you for the references.

Thank you! I'd post more than just references, but the 1000 word comment limitation is rather unforgiving.

So we should just replace our coal plants with wind mills...

No, what we should be doing is focusing more on designing/building more compact cities with spacious/eco-friendly buildings, no roads/cars, no traditional homes, an efficient public transportation like maglev vactrains and heated/cooled walkways, a city-wide pneumatic system for delivering parcels/groceries/etc., robot-operated warehouses, etc. If we did that, we'd easily be able to significantly cut our power/oil usage yet retain almost all of the luxuries we do today.

(As an aside, I chair a small group of architects/engineers/mathematicians from MIT/Harvard/Yale/Cornell working toward this goal. Right now, we've got a couple of building designs in place and will, eventually, perform various simulations to see how such a city would fare.)
gregor1
Jul 10, 2012
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
ryggesogn2
3 / 5 (4) Jul 10, 2012
Energy scarcity is worse than food scarcity?

Why do you think food is plentiful?
Much energy.
Replace all the tractors with people with hoes, no problem.


There are many ways of producing the energy to grow food, and power your tractor without having to burn something to do it.

How?
rubberman
4 / 5 (4) Jul 11, 2012
Energy scarcity is worse than food scarcity?

Why do you think food is plentiful?
Much energy.
Replace all the tractors with people with hoes, no problem.


There are many ways of producing the energy to grow food, and power your tractor without having to burn something to do it.

How?


Do you own the only computer that doesn't support the Google search engine?

ryggesogn2
3.4 / 5 (5) Jul 11, 2012
Energy scarcity is worse than food scarcity?

Why do you think food is plentiful?
Much energy.
Replace all the tractors with people with hoes, no problem.


There are many ways of producing the energy to grow food, and power your tractor without having to burn something to do it.

How?


Do you own the only computer that doesn't support the Google search engine?


How do you power a tractor without fuel? Even if you use a horse or a water buffalo you still need to feed it and their efficiency is quite poor.
rubberman
5 / 5 (2) Jul 11, 2012
Google electric tractors, here is a link to how long they have existed.

http://www.eeevee...cle.html

I know you really aren't interested, but there are several sites that show innovative designs ranging from windmill to solar recharge...
ryggesogn2
3 / 5 (4) Jul 11, 2012
Google electric tractors, here is a link to how long they have existed.

http://www.eeevee...cle.html

I know you really aren't interested, but there are several sites that show innovative designs ranging from windmill to solar recharge...

"a prototype "Solar Tractor". It was designed as a multi-purpose farm tractor, with a solar panel canopy that helps recharge the batteries while providing shade. It has up to 60 horsepower at peak, and includes a Category I three-point hitch and PTO. He predicted a cost of $15,000 - $25,000, but has never gone into production "
Ever wonder why?
This is what is needed for efficient production today:
http://www.deere....es.page?
rubberman
5 / 5 (2) Jul 11, 2012
Or you could go with ones that have been built and function....

http://contest.te...-tractor

http://www.farmha...on#forum

http://www.renewa...tter.htm

I'd need a few hours to post links to every one.....
ryggesogn2
2.6 / 5 (5) Jul 11, 2012
Or you could go with ones that have been built and function....

http://contest.te...-tractor

I'd need a few hours to post links to every one.....

Don't know much about modern agriculture do you?
CapitalismPrevails
3.8 / 5 (5) Jul 11, 2012
Rub, I am a rancher/farmer in Montana. You can not, i repeat, can not match the power density of diesel with current lithium batteries. Besides, electric batteries wear out and particularly in cold weather. Needless to say, they also have a long recharge time and prohibitively high cost. I'm also not so confident electric batteries can pull a duckfoot dragging 21 shovels through the soil, pull a swather and power the PTO, pull a bailer and power the PTO, etc...
A "prototype "Solar Tractor""? I wouldn't bet a solar tractor would be a means of doing more with less. If it were a good idea i would have heard about it or it would be mainstream but it's not.
rubberman
5 / 5 (2) Jul 11, 2012
Hi Cap. I know that deisel currently is the way to go and don't disagree with any of your points, the only point I proved was that tractors can and do run on renewables. If I owned a large farm and had to compete with other farms for productivity I would be deisel all the way...unless as part of a CO2 mitigation policy the government subsidized the 6 electric tractors I would need to replace the John Deere. Rygg asked how, I answered.

"Don't know much about modern agriculture do you?" - Rygg

More than you ever will.
ryggesogn2
3 / 5 (4) Jul 11, 2012
Hi Cap. I know that deisel currently is the way to go and don't disagree with any of your points, the only point I proved was that tractors can and do run on renewables. If I owned a large farm and had to compete with other farms for productivity I would be deisel all the way...unless as part of a CO2 mitigation policy the government subsidized the 6 electric tractors I would need to replace the John Deere. Rygg asked how, I answered.

"Don't know much about modern agriculture do you?" - Rygg

More than you ever will.

How many years did you work on your family farm?
rubberman
5 / 5 (2) Jul 11, 2012
"How many years did you work on your family farm?"

That would have nothing to do with "modern agriculture" as it was 11 years, starting 32 years ago. You?
CapitalismPrevails
3.4 / 5 (5) Jul 11, 2012
Ryg, over 2 decades now.
rubberman
5 / 5 (2) Jul 11, 2012
Cap, I would imagine your Montana ranch is considerably larger than the 200 head dairy farm I grew up with. It was successful but turned out to be worth more as land than a farm because of it's proximity to a city so the family sold it...and regret it everyday. They (my parents) are mennonite background (not amish, although I get why they are how they are)so there were no pesticides, just alot of companion planting which I remember as a kid thinking the companions were more useful than the main crop. Do you use any of that on your farm?
CapitalismPrevails
3 / 5 (4) Jul 11, 2012
No, we use natural gas derived herbicides and pellet fertilizers. We don't us a lot of manual labor as a lot of the heavy lifting is automated. The Hutterite colonies around here are the closest thing we have to the Omish but they use equipment and technology when it comes get getting work done. Everything else like entertainment(TVs, mp3 players, etc) they don't allow. Although they're alcoholics.
ryggesogn2
2.6 / 5 (5) Jul 11, 2012
I repeat:
Why do you think food is plentiful?
Much energy.

Howhot
5 / 5 (1) Jul 12, 2012
R2 asks "Why do you think food is plentiful?". After this past drought I wonder if that question should be, "what food"?

Cap says "No, we use natural gas derived herbicides" Yumm.

ryggesogn2
2.5 / 5 (6) Jul 12, 2012
R2 asks "Why do you think food is plentiful?". After this past drought I wonder if that question should be, "what food"?


Prices will tell.
Too bad so many countries,like Zimbabwe, are socialist and don't have efficient farming methods.
CapitalismPrevails
2.3 / 5 (6) Jul 12, 2012
Cap says "No, we use natural gas derived herbicides" Yumm.

Well apparently you vote for our herbicide use with your wallet.
Howhot
5 / 5 (2) Jul 12, 2012
You can't eat dollar bills. There is no nutrition in cellulose.

Actually CAP, I just go to the very liberal whole food store and buy USDA Organic. I reward the farmers that don't use "natural gas derived" herbicides with my green backs. That is how it works with me.

SatanLover
5 / 5 (3) Jul 15, 2012
R2 asks "Why do you think food is plentiful?". After this past drought I wonder if that question should be, "what food"?


Prices will tell.
Too bad so many countries,like Zimbabwe, are socialist and don't have efficient farming methods.

to bad Monsanto is destroying the whole agricultural industry with their practices.
ryggesogn2
2.7 / 5 (3) Jul 15, 2012
the very liberal whole food store

Really?
Their CEO is opposed to Obamacare.

""The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out
of other people's money."

Margaret Thatcher "
"While we clearly need health-care reform, the last thing our country needs is a massive new health-care entitlement that will create hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and move us much closer to a government takeover of our health-care system. "
"Repeal government mandates"
"Health care is a service that we all need, but just like food and shelter it is best provided through voluntary and mutually beneficial market exchanges."
"At Whole Foods we allow our team members to vote on what benefits they most want the company to fund."
"every American adult is responsible for his or her own health. "
http://online.wsj...070.html
John Mackey, CEO, Whole Foods. Doesn't' sound very 'liberal'.
Howhot
not rated yet Jul 16, 2012
the very liberal whole food store


Really?
Their CEO is opposed to Obamacare.


Your right R2. I forgot about that. There was a huge boycott of Whole Foods due to the CEO's opposition to (the then just proposed) ObamaCare laws. What a tool for the Republican party the toady is. He probably has half the company's profit invested in one the GOP's SuperPACs. I'll just have to take my business else where. Fortunately in the land of the Fruits and Nuts it's not that difficult to find providers of good locally grown Fruits and Nuts.

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