Friday, December 7, 2012

War on Ocean Acidification

Ocean acidification is a global problem and continues to worsen as carbon dioxide emissions continue to rise. Since the year 1750, the average world’s ocean acidity of the water has increased by 30%. Many species are vulnerable to acidification; species like sea urchins, oysters, clams and mussels are several species that are vulnerable. They are vulnerable due to wind-driven upwelling events that occur which bring low-PH waters from the deep parts of the ocean towards the shore. Also land-based nutrient runoff from farming fuels algal growth that also lowers the PH of the ocean. The rising acidity of the ocean waters is corrosive to many larval shellfishes, the acidic water reduces the amount of available carbonate, many marine organisms need carbonate present to form their calcium carbonate shells or skeletons.
Washington State has launched a 3.3 million dollar science based plan that has forty-two steps to reduce ocean acidification. The panel that is composed of scientists, policy-makers and shellfish industry representatives recommends creating an “acidity” budget. This accounts for natural and human-influenced sources of acidity, a way to improve methods of predicting corrosive conditions and a way to use sea grasses to soak up carbon dioxide in shellfish hatcheries.
The panels advises how crucial it is to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions but the state of Washington cannot do this alone it is a global effort and the oceans will not change so overnight. This is a problem that the whole world faces and that only reduction in carbon dioxide will reduce ocean acidification. If not many species that are known today are in jeopardy of going extinct.

This article is reproduced with permission from the magazine Nature. The article was first published on November 27, 2012.

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