Satellite images reveal ocean acidification from space

February 16, 2015
Total ocean alkalinity from space. Credit: Ifremer/ESA/CNES

Pioneering techniques that use satellites to monitor ocean acidification are set to revolutionise the way that marine biologists and climate scientists study the ocean. This new approach, that will be published on the 17 February 2015 in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, offers remote monitoring of large swathes of inaccessible ocean from satellites that orbit the Earth some 700 km above our heads.

Each year more than a quarter of global CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels and cement production are taken up by the Earth's oceans. This process turns the seawater more acidic, making it more difficult for some marine life to live. Rising CO2 emissions, and the increasing acidity of seawater over the next century, has the potential to devastate some marine ecosystems, a food resource on which we rely, and so careful monitoring of changes in is crucial.

Researchers at the University of Exeter, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Institut français de recherche pour l'exploitation de la mer (Ifremer), the European Space Agency and a team of international collaborators are developing new methods that allow them to monitor the acidity of the oceans from space.

Dr Jamie Shutler from the University of Exeter who is leading the research said: "Satellites are likely to become increasingly important for the monitoring of ocean acidification, especially in remote and often dangerous waters like the Arctic. It can be both difficult and expensive to take year-round direct measurements in such inaccessible locations. We are pioneering these techniques so that we can monitor large areas of the Earth's oceans allowing us to quickly and easily identify those areas most at risk from the increasing acidification."

Current methods of measuring temperature and salinity to determine acidity are restricted to in situ instruments and measurements taken from research vessels. This approach limits the sampling to small areas of the ocean, as research vessels are very expensive to run and operate.

The new techniques use satellite mounted thermal cameras to measure ocean temperature while microwave sensors measure the salinity. Together these measurements can be used to assess ocean acidification more quickly and over much larger areas than has been possible before.

Dr Peter Land from Plymouth Marine Laboratory who is lead author of the paper said: "In recent years, great advances have been made in the global provision of satellite and in situ data. It is now time to evaluate how to make the most of these new data sources to help us monitor ocean acidification, and to establish where satellite data can make the best contribution."

A number of existing satellites can be used for the task; these include the European Space Agency's Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) sensor that was launched in 2009 and NASA's Aquarius satellite that was launched in 2011.

The development of the technology and the importance of monitoring are likely to support the development of further satellite sensors in the coming years.

Explore further: Coastal Antarctic study identifies large acidic change

More information: The research is published in the scientific journal Environmental Science and Technology: pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es504849s

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dogbert
1.4 / 5 (9) Feb 16, 2015
How does temperature and salinity translate to pH?
dogbert
2 / 5 (12) Feb 16, 2015
Read the reference text. The temperature and salinity are used to estimate a pH. Not really a measurement of pH.
alfie_null
4.6 / 5 (21) Feb 16, 2015
Read the reference text. The temperature and salinity are used to estimate a pH. Not really a measurement of pH.

Oh - just like how we know we are 150 million km from the sun, even though we haven't put it to a tape measure?

They, anyone else, even you are free to check the accuracy of the correlation against any and all in situ measurement points.

If you doubt the validity, you need to elaborate. Otherwise I'll take this as an attempt to inject a little FUD from an anti-AGW-er.
paulraup
1.5 / 5 (16) Feb 16, 2015
Could be a useful tool, but what it can't do is give meaningful comparisons with historic levels. The big problem with a lot of the science is the accuracy of comparisons to a "normal" when we do not know what is "normal".
Vausch
4.5 / 5 (22) Feb 16, 2015
Could be a useful tool, but what it can't do is give meaningful comparisons with historic levels. The big problem with a lot of the science is the accuracy of comparisons to a "normal" when we do not know what is "normal".


Except we do have measurements for hundreds of years from direct records, hundreds of thousands to millions using various tactics such as carbon dating, ice carbon testing, and radiometric dating, and we can see how life in general is reacting to the very fast changes taking place.

Normal may be relative, but we do have a pretty good grasp of what it is when comparing to more recent history.
mndaffy
3.9 / 5 (8) Feb 16, 2015


Except we do have measurements for hundreds of years from direct records, hundreds of thousands to millions using various tactics such as carbon dating, ice carbon testing, and radiometric dating, and we can see how life in general is reacting to the very fast


Do you have a link to any graphics or actual data? My geochem books only offer insights into magnitudes of changes and resulting effects, but really didn't do much to assign an axis for time. People have a right to question whether this is just noise on an acidity vs time graph. That is a reasonable inquiry, but considering other changes going on and their rates, I am betting that dismissing it as noise would be premature. Anyone got a link to the paper?
kminotaur32
3.1 / 5 (11) Feb 16, 2015
I see there some scientifically illiterate deniers on here. Proton-transfer reaction (An acid) is an exchange of protons between 2 substances.
On a pH scale, anything below 7.00 on a pH scale is an acid!
kminotaur32
3.9 / 5 (15) Feb 16, 2015
How does temperature and salinity translate to pH?


The oceans are absorbing our massive CO2 emissions. This is what's causing the pH levels to drop. H20+CO2---------reacts to yield-----H2CO3+H20

The product is carbonic acid. It's in our soda pop. Sounds harmless right? NOT FOR OCEAN LIFE!
kminotaur32
3.6 / 5 (14) Feb 16, 2015
Could be a useful tool, but what it can't do is give meaningful comparisons with historic levels. The big problem with a lot of the science is the accuracy of comparisons to a "normal" when we do not know what is "normal".


You need to go back to school, and take some science classes.
netprophet
2 / 5 (12) Feb 16, 2015
A paper published last October debunks the entire ocean acidification correlation with warming. The paper reconstructs water pH and temperature from a lake in central Japan over the past 280,000 years and clearly shows that pH increases (becomes more basic not acidic) due to warmer temperatures, and vice-versa. This finding is the opposite of the false assumptions behind the "ocean acidification" narrative used to explain away the "pause" in global warming. However, the Japan lake study is compatible with the basic chemistry of Henry's Law and outgassing of CO2 from the oceans with warming.
Thus, if global warming resumes after the "pause," (as the alarmists claim will occur), ocean temperatures will rise along with CO2 outgassing, which will make the oceans more basic, not acidic.
psychosalmon
2.2 / 5 (13) Feb 16, 2015
CO2 levels 20 times higher built massive limestone deposits all over the world, from Mt Everest to Indiana. But the oceans are doomed by increasing CO2 from 350 to 400. The BS never ends with this scam.
netprophet
2.5 / 5 (13) Feb 16, 2015
Why are satellites an acceptable means of measuring ocean pH but summarily rejected for measuring temperature in favor of faulty and inaccurate land-based gauges?
mndaffy
3.9 / 5 (11) Feb 16, 2015
A paper published last October debunks the entire ocean acidification correlation with warming. The paper reconstructs water pH and temperature from a lake in central Japan over the past 280,000 years and clearly shows that pH increases (becomes more basic not acidic) due to warmer temperatures, and vice-versa. This finding is the opposite of the false assumptions behind the "ocean acidification" narrative used to explain away the "pause" in global warming. However, the Japan lake study is compatible with the basic chemistry of Henry's Law and outgassing of CO2 from the oceans with warming.
Thus, if global warming resumes after the "pause," (as the alarmists claim will occur), ocean temperatures will rise along with CO2 outgassing, which will make the oceans more basic, not acidic.


Citation please.
Morgan Wright
2.2 / 5 (10) Feb 16, 2015
The current CO2 level is lower than it's been for all but .02% of earth's history. For 99.98% of Earth' history, it was higher than it is now, usually much higher. Life in the oceans evolved with CO2 levels that were 15 times higher than they are now. I wonder how acidic the oceans were then....
Wake
2.5 / 5 (13) Feb 16, 2015
Isn't it impressive when you take a 0.001% change and chart it to look like a 100% change? And if you don't simply say that acidification increases as plankton changes are in progress?
craig james
3.2 / 5 (10) Feb 16, 2015
The largest positive in this article is a recognition that satellite data is accurate and has many uses.
Land based GISS and oceanic Hadcrut4 are not accurate, and unfortunately very subjective. GISS, and possibly Hadcrut as well, change raw temperature data early and often, as has been reported by the UK Telegraph. GISS temperature data changes go beyond accounting for urbanization and other site changes.
Satellite is the most accurate and most valid temperature provider.
Only since 1979 has satellite temperature data been available. Global temperatures before 1979 have wide margins of error and are basically to rough to be useful.

The ability to change temperature data unencumbered may well be one of the reasons GISS refuses to use the more accurate data from satellite temperature providers.

quickbme
4.2 / 5 (10) Feb 16, 2015
Here is the chemical process that occurs when adding CO2 to the oceans:

CO2 + H2O => H+ + HCO3- (1)

The additional hydrogen ions released by carbonic acid bind to carbonate ions (CO32-), forming additional HCO3-.

H+ + CO32- => HCO3- (2)

This reduces the concentration of CO32-, making it harder for marine creatures to take up CO32- to form the calcium carbonate needed to build their exoskeletons.

Ca2+ + CO32- => CaCO3 (3)

The two main forms of calcium carbonate used by marine creatures are calcite and aragonite. Decreasing the amount of carbonate ions in the water makes conditions more difficult for both calcite users (phytoplankton, foraminifera and coccolithophore algae), and aragonite users (corals, shellfish, pteropods and heteropods).
RWT
2.4 / 5 (11) Feb 16, 2015
Why is phys.org filled with so many science fan boys that don't know what they are talking about?

1. There is no actual ocean measurements showing a decline in surface pH. Dr. Feely's paper demonstrating such has been shown to have occluded thousands of pH measurements that would have changed the results of the 2009 paper in which he was awarded $100,000 for from the Heinz Foundation.
http://www.ipetit...urements

2. Dissolving carbon dioxide into water will decrease the pH of a solution only if the buffering capacity of the solution (ocean water) has a fixed amount of conjugate base for the carbon dioxide to react with. The oceans have virtually an unlimited amount of bases to buffer against pH change as salts continuously are delivered via rivers and carbonate sediment makes up much of the shallow ocean floor. Furthermore, the enthalpy of formation decreases for CaCO3 as temperature increases.
eclipse0101
2.6 / 5 (11) Feb 16, 2015
Science deniers are of no importance, they CANNOT UNDERSTAND the facts, they are merely puppets. Others attempt to impress themselves with their personal knowledge by blowing smoke, all EVIDENCE of evolution.
runrig
4.7 / 5 (12) Feb 16, 2015
netprophet;
A freshwater lake says nothing about ocean acidification. The chemistry is quite different.
The amount of dissolved gas in a body of water is...Henry's Law, which essentially says
"as temp increases, to maintain the same amount of the gas dissolve in the liquid, the partial pressure of the gas must also increase".
The ocean doesn't behave as water in a closed system in a laboratory where the temperature/pressure can be controlled. There are lots of other things happening - waves/currents/wind. If CO2 wasn't increasing and the oceans were warming, they'd emit CO2.
Don't confuse the chemistry of ocean acidification with the solubility of CO2 in sea water. Dissolved CO2 reacts chemically with water. It's the chemical reactions that causes the pH to drop.

The paper deduced that "summer precipitation in the watershed is a factor that controls photosynthesis and, consequently, the pH of the lake water". There's also chemical weathering and more.

runrig
4.4 / 5 (14) Feb 16, 2015
Land based GISS and oceanic Hadcrut4 are not accurate, and unfortunately very subjective. GISS, and possibly Hadcrut as well, change raw temperature data early and often, as has been reported by the UK Telegraph. GISS temperature data changes go beyond accounting for urbanization and other site changes.
Satellite is the most accurate and most valid temperature provider.

There are 2 sat temps series .... here they are alongside the land-based temp series....

https://tamino.fi...mp12.jpg

Notice the same temp trend in all.
Notice how the sat radiometers react over sensitively to the warming of the '98 El Nino (where deniers like to start the "pause" at).

Is that why you like them?
Especiallyy RSS, because it's colder?

I find it laughable that deniers hold sat series so dear considering they bleat on about thermo data being "changed". Nothing was/is changed more my friends....

http://en.wikiped...ture_dat
howhot2
4.3 / 5 (14) Feb 16, 2015
What is important to know is how dangerous ocean acidification is to our food supply. Many of the smallest forms of life, the very bottom of the food-chain, the diatoms and algea can only exist in pH neutral waters. Their calcium carbonate shells are dissolved in low pH killing the creatures and destroying the base of the food chain. All a direct result of mankind's consumption of fossil fuels and deniers refusal to recognize their own stupid folly to delay action on what 99.5% of scientists agree on is the source of global warming. Man made CO2 from fossil fuels.

Denier's are nothing more than paid for terrorists as far as I'm concerned.



24volts
2.8 / 5 (9) Feb 16, 2015
@Howhot2 sea water isn't normally ph neutral. It's slightly alkaline about 7.5 to 8.5 range. Doesn't change the point you were making though.
lonnie_kempf
1.9 / 5 (9) Feb 16, 2015
@HowHot2,
From the study,
"When pH was adjusted from ambient levels (8.8 to 8.9) to lower levels (pH 8.0 to 8.3), carbon uptake rates of the natural assemblages were enhanced."
Phytoplankton and Diatoms were subjected to pH ranges between 7 and 9. The ocean can never reach neutrality, so that is not an issue. Growth was found to be inhibited <8 and >9. So your entire diatribe, warning, alarmism, whatever...is basless.

Effects of pH on the growth and carbon uptake of marine phytoplankton, Chen et al 1994

These organisms have survived for millenia, through higher pH oceans, through ice-ages, etc.
DarkLordKelvin
4.5 / 5 (10) Feb 16, 2015
I think it's important for the brave defenders (e.g. Magnuss, runrig, etc) to acknowledge the point that several have already made, namely that we currently have no explanation of how massive chalk and limestone formations (made from the exoskeletons of the types of plankton we now suppose are threatened by ocean acidification) were laid down during prehistoric epochs when we KNOW the CO2 levels were many times higher than they are now. Perhaps they were slightly different species, attuned to a different pH .. perhaps they have a secondary pathway whereby they can use bicarbonate instead of carbonate as a raw material to build their exoskeletons .. perhaps there is some sort of geological feedback mechanism that kicks in to buffer the extra acidity from more dissolved CO2. My point is that, while ocean acidification is a reasonable thing to be concerned about, many of the more discrete claims about its effects (e.g. on the food chain) are, at best, uncertain.
DarkLordKelvin
4.3 / 5 (8) Feb 16, 2015
Note that my previous comment is not intended to be the least bit snarky, and I value the insightful, science-based commentary of Maggus and runrig (among others). I also think it's manifest that dumping large amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere are going to have long term effects on the climate, via the well-established *scientific theory* of the greenhouse effect.

(I mention these things only to distinguish myself from other posters who at least seem to not accept these things, but have made similar posts about prehistoric CO2 levels and chalk deposits)
DarkLordKelvin
3.5 / 5 (4) Feb 16, 2015
@Maggnus .. sorry that I misspelled your name (twice)
howhot2
4.6 / 5 (10) Feb 16, 2015
@lonnie_kempf; You said it "Growth was found to be inhibited <8 and >9" and what do you think? The pH of the ocean is typically between 7.5 and 8.4. Ocean acidification tends to push pH below 7.5 (and in some case way below that line). Which is the point. For the calcoreus phytoplantons and diatoms and other creatures that are at the base of the food chain, Ocean acidification is an extinction event. And since carbolic acid forms from CO2 + H2O -> H2CO3 and excessive CO2 is present from excessive man made fossil fuel consumption, the acidity of the ocean is going to go up! (which means the pH will fall). The pH scale is also logarithmic so as the ocean move from Base to Acid, the impact on life is huge. Below neutral it is an extinction event!

Just for your references;
http://www.pmel.n...ation%3F
24volts
4.8 / 5 (12) Feb 16, 2015
Read the reference text. The temperature and salinity are used to estimate a pH. Not really a measurement of pH.

Oh - just like how we know we are 150 million km from the sun, even though we haven't put it to a tape measure?

They, anyone else, even you are free to check the accuracy of the correlation against any and all in situ measurement points.

If you doubt the validity, you need to elaborate. Otherwise I'll take this as an attempt to inject a little FUD from an anti-AGW-er.


It is more accurately called an estimate. I taught water chemistry in the Navy and temp/salinity doesn't always add up to the same ph... you get a range and the results depend a lot on what else happens to be in the water too.
Maggnus
5 / 5 (11) Feb 17, 2015
I think it's important for the brave defenders (e.g. Magnuss, runrig, etc) to acknowledge the point that several have already made, namely that we currently have no explanation of how massive chalk and limestone formations (made from the exoskeletons of the types of plankton we now suppose are threatened by ocean acidification) were laid down during prehistoric epochs when we KNOW the CO2 levels were many times higher than they are now.
Well, that's a bit of a loaded question DLK (if I may be so bold, so as to shorten the character limits from here on out). To say we have no explanation is a bit broad. The Cretaceous epoch is, after all, named for the chalk deposits that were laid down in Eurpoe and other places between about 150 - 65 million years ago. That's a pretty long period, 25 million years longer than it has been since dinosaurs and other species were wiped out. To say that all of that period experienced higher CO2 levels than today is a tad broad (TBCNT)
Maggnus
5 / 5 (11) Feb 17, 2015
cnt: Remember DLK that at the start of the epoch, there was only one continent, Pangea, which started breaking up at about that point. At the time, CO2 levels were about 250 - 300 PPM (similar to today's levels) ( see Nasif Nahle. 2007. Cycles of Global Climate Change. Biology Cabinet Journal Online. Article no. 295. for eg) Over the eons, CO2 levels jumped around until about 95 million years ago, during the late cretaceous. Evidence exists to suggest levels rose fairly quickly at the end of that epoch, to as much as 1000PPM (Marcel M. M. Kuypers1, Richard D. Pancost1 & Jaap S. Sinninghe Damsté, Nature 399, 342-345 (27 May 1999) | doi:10.1038/20659) However, during much of the time that the chalk was laid down, and in fact, during the bulk of the Cretaceous, CO2 levels were stable over long periods. (Fractionization of carbon isotopes by phytoplankton and estimates of CO2 levels, Katherine H. Freeman • and J. M. Hayes GLOBAl CYCLES, VOL. 6, NO. 2, PAGES 185-198, June, 1992) cnt..
Maggnus
5 / 5 (11) Feb 17, 2015
So what we can surmise is that much of the chalk and limestone laid down over that period occurred during the long, stable period where the CO2 levels were similar to what the Earth has experienced for about the last 50-55 million years. CO2 levels jumped substantially during the formation of the Deccan Traps in India, but prior to that, they were mostly quite stable, allowing the formation of the huge chalk and limestone deposits that gave that epoch its name. That is not to say it was all stable, but the changes were much slower, covering thousands or tens of thousands of years instead of the hundreds happening today. In other words, they had time to adapt. I think, therefore, we have some pretty good explanations for the large concentrations of plankton that resulted on those large chalk formations.
DarkLordKelvin
5 / 5 (6) Feb 17, 2015
@Maggnus .. thanks for the response ... I should have been a bit more precise in making my point. What I meant was that, several specific chalk formations (the white cliffs of Dover being one), date to periods where the CO2 levels were many times higher than they are today, for at least a significant portion of when they were laid down. What we have "no explanation for" is how diatoms were able to either a) produce exoskeletons during such periods or b) survive such periods at all, so that they could later produce these structures (and similar ones). I have to admit that I am borrowing a bit from remembered conversations with one of my geosciences colleagues here, this is not my area of expertise, so I apologize for not having the references to hand. I can try to find them if desired. Also, I should be clear that the point of concern is not that the CO2 levels were "unstable", but rather that they were stable at several times modern levels.
DarkLordKelvin
5 / 5 (7) Feb 17, 2015
@Maggnus ... Also, I think we differ a bit about the Pangaea timeline .. as far as I understand it, Pangaea started breaking up during the Triassic, and the formation of the modern continents was well on its way during the Cretaceous. So while it may be true that the CO2 levels were near modern values around the time that Pangaea was breaking up, I am pretty sure that most researchers agree that CO2 levels were significantly higher than modern values throughout the Cretaceous period. I will check some of those references when I have journal access at work, but I have not before seen claims that CO2 levels were similar to modern values for any significant part of the Cretaceous. Like I said, this isn't really my field, so perhaps I just missed something significant.
DarkLordKelvin
5 / 5 (6) Feb 17, 2015
@Maggnus .. oh dear, it looks like you have cited a work by Nasif Nahle in one of those posts you made in response to me. You may want to be a bit careful with that .. he has a theory that CO2 actually acts to cools the atmosphere, which is generally regarded as "crack-pot grade" in scientific circles. Also, if you look carefully at the figure in your cited "article" from "biology cabinet" (a personal, non-peer reviewed creation of Nahle himself), you'll see that his number of ~340 ppmV CO2 for the Cretateous doesn't match up with the rest of the data in the plot .. the line showing CO2 during the Cretaceous is higher than the current levels (from the same graph), yet somehow the average is lower than the current value? It's hard to quantify because no vertical axis is provided, but if you poke around you can find similar graphs with a vertical axis, and even the most conservative (Rothman) has Cretaceous CO2 levels at more than double modern levels .. most are in 1000's ppmV.
Maggnus
5 / 5 (7) Feb 17, 2015
I can try to find them if desired. Also, I should be clear that the point of concern is not that the CO2 levels were "unstable", but rather that they were stable at several times modern levels.
My understanding is that the stability is the key. While the CO2 range was indeed several times higher than now, those levels fluctuated slowly, allowing for the phytoplanton of the day to adjust and even thrive in the higher atmospheric CO2 environment. It is also of interest that the ocean temperatures were significantly higher, somewhere in the 30-35C range. Warmer ocean water holds less CO2, which may have also played a role in their ability to survive. Either way, given the very long period of time we are discussing, it is hard to compare today's plankton to those living in the epoch. I think a better question might be, how did they survive the CO2 crash and continue to be a viable species into the modern age?
Maggnus
5 / 5 (7) Feb 17, 2015
Pangaea started breaking up during the Triassic, and the formation of the modern continents was well on its way during the Cretaceous.
True, but it started breaking up about 180MYA whereas the Cretaceous begins about 150MYA. The only point being, the modern continents still infantile until well into the Cretaceous.
I am pretty sure that most researchers agree that CO2 levels were significantly higher than modern values throughout the Cretaceous period
Yes, I think you are right, certainly for the middle to late Cretaceous. I think I dropped a zero!
It looks like you have cited a work by Nasif Nahle in one of those posts you made in response to me.
Lol yes, I was interested in his graph, I hope I didn't confuse things too much!
if you poke around you can find similar graphs with a vertical axis, and even the most conservative (Rothman) has Cretaceous CO2 levels at more than double modern levels .. most are in 1000's ppmV.
You are right.
DarkLordKelvin
5 / 5 (9) Feb 17, 2015
... the stability is the key. While the CO2 range was indeed several times higher than now, those levels fluctuated slowly, allowing for the phytoplanton of the day to adjust and even thrive in the higher atmospheric CO2 environment. It is also of interest that the ocean temperatures were significantly higher, somewhere in the 30-35C range. Warmer ocean water holds less CO2, which may have also played a role in their ability to survive. Either way, given the very long period of time we are discussing, it is hard to compare today's plankton to those living in the epoch. I think a better question might be, how did they survive the CO2 crash and continue to be a viable species into the modern age?

Fair enough ... I am satisfied that we agree that there is uncertainty, and that these are important questions that should be acknowledged when discussing ocean acidification from increased CO2. It's obvious Nature solved the problem .. but how?, and how fast?, are crucial questions.
Maggnus
5 / 5 (8) Feb 17, 2015
Fair enough ... I am satisfied that we agree that there is uncertainty, and that these are important questions that should be acknowledged when discussing ocean acidification from increased CO2. It's obvious Nature solved the problem .. but how?, and how fast?, are crucial questions
Agreed.
earthling98765
4 / 5 (6) Feb 17, 2015
Mr. Forest Mims III was able to construct a hand-held atmospheric ozone monitor that was more accurate than low-Earth-orbit observations because the ozone was seen against the backdrop of space. Perhaps some kinds of ocean measurements can be done from the floor of the ocean looking up more accurately/cheaply than from orbit.
howhot2
5 / 5 (5) Feb 17, 2015
Forest Mims was a brilliant man, but he was also a creationist and believe that Earth was only 6000 years old. I think those where just a few reasons he wasn't hired by Scientific America for the hobbyist sciience column. Still I enjoyed his Radio Shack design books on electronics. In this case I would fully trust the new satellite for ocean acidification measurements because for one, it does the whole damn globe, and not just some spot measurement. That allow one to see the full global consequences of high concentrations of CO2 on the ocean and allows use to predict when certain areas will be devoid of life from the excess acidity caused by the carbolic acid formed by the said CO2.

DarkLordKelvin
5 / 5 (6) Feb 17, 2015
.. the excess acidity caused by the carbolic acid formed by the said CO2.


(nitpick) you mean carbonic acid, I think ... carbolic acid is another name for phenol, which most certainly is not being put into the oceans by increased atmospheric CO2. (/nitpick)
howhot2
5 / 5 (5) Feb 18, 2015
Opps, typo on my part. I did mean carbonic acid, not carbolic acid.
phatgeek
2.6 / 5 (5) Feb 18, 2015
Ummm... No, microwaves can only measure the ionization of the water. How can satellites possibly tell the difference between acidity and alkalinity and salinity?!? This doesn't seem right.
DarkLordKelvin
5 / 5 (5) Feb 18, 2015
Ummm... No, microwaves can only measure the ionization of the water. How can satellites possibly tell the difference between acidity and alkalinity and salinity?!? This doesn't seem right.


Well, you can see for yourself here .. the paper seems to be available for free, at least at the moment. http://pubs.acs.o...s504849s
Gaby_64
3.4 / 5 (5) Feb 19, 2015
really, a local lake system debunks global ocean system behavior?

the ocean acts as not only a heat buffer, but a CO2 buffer aswell

id rather not wait until methane releases sends warming exponential.
phatgeek
3 / 5 (4) Feb 19, 2015
@DarkLordKelvin:
.. the paper seems to be available for free, at least at the moment.


Thanks for linking the paper in your comment. Having read it, I still don't believe it. It is all based on equilibrium models (required to solve with 2 variables), with no experimental validation. TA is affected by lots and lots of variables, including buffering. Also, TA is not the only source of salinity variation. Also, pH, not just salinity is a source of ionization that could skew measurements from space. The argument that anions and cations are evenly distributed is highly questionable when talking about changes over large volumes that never reach equilibrium. And at last, where do we get pH out of these data? Also, these measurements are indications only of a very thin surface layer (less than a centimeter, for sure). Assuming I'm wrong about everything else, is that measurement a fair indication of the buffered pH even six inches beneath the surface?
DarkLordKelvin
5 / 5 (5) Feb 19, 2015
It is all based on equilibrium models (required to solve with 2 variables), with no experimental validation.


It doesn't seem like we read the same paper. They explain in great detail precisely how they are working to test/calibrate algorithms using satellite data. From p. 1990
"NOAA's experimental Ocean Acidification Product Suite (OAPS) is a regional example of using empirical algorithms with a combination of climatological SSS and satellite SST to provide synoptic estimates of sea surface carbonate chemistry in the Greater Caribbean Region.[14] ... In general the derived data were in good agreement with in situ measured data ... "

and

"A quite different approach is the assimilation of satellite data into ocean circulation models.[65] The model output carbonate parameters can then be used directly. ... Here we seek to assess the direct use of satellite data through empirical algorithms to improve OA estimates."

That's not seeking "experimental validation"?
DarkLordKelvin
5 / 5 (6) Feb 19, 2015
TA is affected by lots and lots of variables, including buffering. Also, TA is not the only source of salinity variation. Also, pH, not just salinity is a source of ionization that could skew measurements from space.


They expressly address those points in the paper .. I am satisfied they know these basic considerations and how to account for them.

The argument that anions and cations are evenly distributed is highly questionable when talking about changes over large volumes that never reach equilibrium.


Huh? Solutions are homogeneous .. that is a basic principle of chemistry, as is the idea that cations and anions must remain closely balanced in an electrolyte in the absence of a large driving force. I am not aware of huge electrical gradients building up in the oceans, and unless that's happening, it's a pretty safe bet that cations and anions are in close balance down to scales much smaller than those probed by these satellite measurements.
DarkLordKelvin
5 / 5 (6) Feb 19, 2015
And at last, where do we get pH out of these data?
I don't know, it's not my field, but they cite plenty of papers that presumably explain the algorithms that are used to determine pH from the various available data. from p. 1988:

"Increasingly, as in situ data accumulate, attempts are being made to use in situ hydrographic data[10−13] and/or remotely sensed data[14,15] to provide proxies and indicators for the condition of the carbonate system, enabling data gaps to be filled in both space and time."

So there's 6 references right there.

Also, these measurements are indications only of a very thin surface layer (less than a centimeter, for sure). Assuming I'm wrong about everything else, is that measurement a fair indication of the buffered pH even six inches beneath the surface?


Again, I can't help much, since it's not my field, so I'd have to suggest checking the references. Try to give the researchers credit for not just "winging it" and dig in.
DarkLordKelvin
5 / 5 (6) Feb 19, 2015
Solutions are homogeneous .. that is a basic principle of chemistry


I should probably clarify that I meant *locally* homogeneous .. I certainly don't think the entire global ocean system is a homogeneous solution, but on a local scale, say within 1000 sq. meters of ocean surface far from shore, the lateral concentration gradients of dissolved ions and gases (i.e. the things the satellite measurements are sensitive to) should be pretty small.
DarkLordKelvin
5 / 5 (6) Feb 19, 2015
Thanks for linking the paper in your comment. Having read it, I still don't believe it.


Just a final remark on your opening statement here ... I think you raised questions that are quite reasonable in your posts, but that's just it ... they are questions that are more likely to indicate possible gaps in your understanding, rather than actual methodological or interpretational flaws in the paper, which after all was written by experts in this field after years of work and study.

In general, whenever something about a scientific presentation or study from outside one's field seems "wrong", it is usually indicates a gap in one's understanding. Asking probing questions (and following up on the answers) generally resolves the confusion. Occasionally that initial intuition that there was some sort of problem will be proved correct, but it is rare, because most scientists are careful, and understand that their reputations depend on their papers being as error-free as possible.
phatgeek
2.5 / 5 (4) Feb 20, 2015
Just a final remark on your opening statement here ... I think you raised questions that are quite reasonable in your posts ... they are questions that are more likely to indicate possible gaps in your understanding, rather than actual ... flaws in the paper.[\q]

Fair enough. And given your locality arguments, I agree about the homogeneity of ions, although i have heard of a rare phenomenon called "lightning". :)

My issue is that I disagree with your assumption that experts in their fields are honest brokers of their research, and we should assume they are correct because "they are the experts." There is quite a bit of "science" out there that is just not scientific. Such things give ammunition to "deniers". Best to do good science, and to write down in each paper exactly what is taken from what prior research, what assumptions they imply, how many degrees of freedom remain, etc. before relying on references to "prove" their assumptions and empirical evidence.

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