Welcome to our blog! Here you can explore hot ocean topics and find postings that highlight a few of the most interesting new articles added in the Center for Ocean Solution’s Pacific Ocean Library. We hope to inspire you to participate in the ongoing conversation and encourage you to explore the resources of the Pacific Ocean Library.
April 2012: Managing and Mitigating Ocean Acidification in California and the Pacific
In April, we focus on ocean
acidification. How is carbon dioxide (CO2) affecting our oceans,
what are the consequences of increased levels for marine ecosystems, and what
can we do to manage and mitigate rising CO2 in our oceans? As
California takes steps to better understand the impacts of ocean acidification
and how to develop a response, state leaders recently asked the Center for
Ocean Solutions to analyze the issue. COS’s newly released report, Why Ocean Acidification Matters to
California, and What California Can Do About It: A Report on the Power of
California's State Government to Address Ocean Acidification in State Waters,
highlights known causes of chemical change in the coastal ocean and features a
wide variety of legal and policy tools that California’s government agencies
can use to mitigate the problem. COS created a “toolbox” for California that
also offers a wealth of information that can be used by other countries and states as
a case study and reference in addressing their own ocean acidification challenges. Want to know more? Check out this related law review article, Ten Ways States Can Combat Ocean Acidification (and Why They Should).
Below we offer an overview of ocean acidification and highlight a few additional articles that provide insight into defining the ocean acidification problem and solution.
A Critical Turning Point
Levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have increased nearly 40 percent, from 284ppm to 394ppm, since the Industrial Revolution due to humankind's industrial and agricultural activities and this number continues to increase every day. But, what does this mean to the ocean and why should we care? Higher levels of dissolved CO2 lower the ocean’s pH, making it more acidic. Ocean acidification may negatively affect many ecosystems but causes the most harm to marine organisms relying on calcium carbonate for their shells and skeletons; at low enough pH levels, the shells will literally dissolve. Ocean acidification is an emerging global problem with effects that could cascade down the food chain, with significant impacts on many biological systems.
Ocean acidification is of particular importance in California and the entire Pacific Ocean region because of biological and economic impacts. Currently very few field studies focus on California; however, evidence from other similar geographies provides useful information for how ocean acidification could impact the state. For example, studies have shown that oysters in the Pacific Northwest are dissolving and that larval development is being hindered in species that are also commercially important to California. Reduced fish and shellfish populations could dramatically impact commercial to artisanal fisheries and could eliminate critically important food sources – seafood provides 20% of the global protein supply.
Finding effective solutions to ocean acidification depends significantly upon more robust research and improved data collection. Improving our understanding of how changes in pH will affect individual species and assemblages of species, as well as the impacts to economic and ecological vitality of productive ecosystems – which varies across ecosystems, from coral reefs to kelp forests – can provide critical information for effective management efforts.
Still have questions about ocean acidification? Check out Ocean Acidification: The Other CO2 Problem, an informational video that breaks down the science of ocean acidification presented by world leading Australian marine scientists.
Other Ocean Acidification Research
This month we have selected three articles that highlight the amplified rate at which the ocean is absorbing CO2 and offer some insights into how policies can help provide part of the solution. Click on the title links below to view the abstracts in the library...and while you are there, have a look around!
This article looks at North and South Pacific seawater chemistry to determine results of how anthropogenic CO2 from the atmosphere is decreasing the pH and lowering the CO3 concentration and CaCO3 saturation states of aragonite and calcite in the upper ocean. It details how estimates based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) business-as-usual emission scenarios suggest that atmospheric CO2 levels could approach 800 ppm near the end of the century; increasing the ocean's acidity by about 150% relative to the beginning of the industrial era.
This article determines that hydrographic and time-series data for the North Pacific show direct evidence of ocean acidification. These surveys, as well as the time-series data from Ocean Stations Aloha and Papa, have confirmed that the oceans are absorbing increasing amounts of carbon dioxide.
This article describes policy options for local and state governments to reduce local and regional “hot spots” of ocean acidification. One solution the article emphasizes is an anti-sprawl land-use plan, which can help to reduce vehicle miles traveled and impermeable surface cover, limiting emissions and runoff.
Explore the Library!
Did you know that the Pacific Ocean Library now contains more than 6,500 articles, government publications and reports from the Pacific region that focus on the greatest threats, environmental and socioeconomic impacts, and potential solutions for the region? The library is a great resource for anyone involved in coastal and ocean conservation and management. Each month, we select focal topics of importance to practitioners, managers, academics, decision-makers and stakeholders within Pacific Ocean communities and add interesting reports, resources and tools to help provide you with a robust one-stop information source. This month, we added 34 new articles related to ocean acidification, pollution and whaling with a focus on California and the United States, Japan and the open-ocean. To view these articles and browse for other helpful resources on topics of interest, click here.
We invite you to have a look and check back in May for next month’s topics. If you have an idea for a focal topic, send it to us at email@example.com!