Tag: ocean acidification

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Satellite images reveal ocean acidification from space

Total ocean alkalinity from space. (Image 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 ocean acidity 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 ...

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Ocean acidification changes balance of biofouling communities

A new study of marine organisms that make up the ‘biofouling community’ — tiny creatures that attach themselves to ships’ hulls and rocks in the ocean around the world — shows how they adapt to changing ocean acidification. Reporting in the journal Global Change Biology, the authors examine how these communities may respond to future change. There is overwhelming evidence to suggest the world’s oceans are becoming, and will continue to become more acidic in the future, but there are many questions about how it will affect marine life. The ‘biofouling community’ — consisting of tiny species like sea squirts, hard shell worms and sponges — affects many industries including underwater construction, desalination plants and ship hulls. Removing these organisms (a process called antifouling) is estimated to cost around $22 billion a year globally. For the first experiment of its kind, over 10,000 animals from the highly productive Ria Formosa Lagoon system in Algarve, Portugal were allowed to colonise hard surfaces in six aquarium tanks. In half the tanks, the seawater had the normal acidity for the lagoon (PH 7.9) and the other half were set at an increased acidity of PH 7.7. The conditions represented the IPCC’s prediction for ...

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New challenges for ocean acidification research

Over the past decade, ocean acidification has received growing recognition not only in the scientific area. Decision-makers, stakeholders, and the general public are becoming increasingly aware of "the other carbon dioxide problem". It is time to reflect on the successes and deficiencies of ocean acidification research and to take a look forward at the challenges the fastest growing field of marine science is facing.In the January issue of the journal Nature Climate Change Ulf Riebesell, professor for Biological Oceanography at GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, and Jean-Pierre Gattuso from the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) urge the international scientific community to undertake a concerted interdisciplinary effort. According to the two experts, future ocean acidification research will have to deal with three major challenges: It needs to expand from single to multiple drivers, from single species to communities and ecosystems, and from evaluating acclimation to understanding adaptation. "The growing knowledge in each of the diverging research branches needs to be assimilated into an integrated assessment", Prof. Riebesell points out. For the scientific community, it is obvious that ocean acidification does not occur in isolation. Rising temperatures, loss of oxygen, eutrophication, pollution and other drivers happen simultaneously ...

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NOC develops innovative sensor to to measure ocean acidification

A team of scientists and engineers from the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) is heading to the USA to take part in a high-profile international competition to develop pH sensors to measure changes in the acidity of the ocean. NOC is one of only two organisations representing the UK in the Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE, which is offering a total prize fund of (US)$2million for the development of accurate and affordable ocean pH sensors to improve our understanding of ocean acidification. The four-phase competition has attracted major players from the scientific community around the world and there are twenty-three organisations taking part. The NOC team has successfully passed Phase 1 and are travelling to California this month for Phase 2, which involves testing the sensor in a lab.  NOC is well-renowned for developing world-leading oceanographic sensors and the pH sensor it has entered into the Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE competition is unique. Very small in size, it is based on a microfluidic design, which requires very small volumes of seawater to generate a reading. It is also being designed as an autonomous system able to operate on a number of oceanographic platforms and down to depths of several thousand ...

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Ocean observatories to monitor Arctic seabed

CAGE, Centre for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Environment and Climate has selected Kongsberg Maritime to develop and deliver two ocean observatories. The observatories will be deployed off the coast of Svalbard (Norwegian islands in the Arctic Ocean) during 2015, to monitor methane leaks from the seabed. The contract for this project was signed 6th October 2014. The observatories will be self-contained, advanced autonomous sensor systems with a range of different sensors integrated. They will be deployed for 12 months continuous operation on the Arctic seabed and are fully self-contained, powered by battery packages and able to wirelessly keep contact with the surface through Kongsberg Maritime developed acoustic communication technology. Kongsberg Maritime's hub for subsea environmental monitoring (Image Credit: Kongsberg Maritime) "It is the first time that research is being done on the entire methane emission system from the seabed to the atmosphere. To measure these emissions we need a lot of instruments that are at the forefront of development," says Benedicte Ferré, team leader at CAGE responsible for the observatories. The ocean observatories will be used as instruments in CAGE's research activities related to frozen methane hydrates under the seabed in the Arctic areas and monitoring of methane gas leaks from ...

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Global economy to lose billions without action to stop ocean acidification

The global economy could be losing as much as $1 trillion annually by the end of the century if countries do not take urgent steps to stop ocean acidification, UN report warns. This figure reflects the economic loss for industries linked to coral reefs alone, which are some of the most vulnerable species to this phenomenon. The overall financial and environmental costs are still uncertain, states the report, An Updated Synthesis of the Impacts of Ocean Acidification on Marine Biodiversity, issued in Pyeongchang by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) at the 12th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD (COP-12). “When ecosystems stop delivering the way they should, they essentially deliver less services and less benefits. In the case of coral reefs, those systems are essential for people’s livelihoods in many regions of the world and they will be significantly affected,” said Salvatore Arico, who acts as the principal focal point on biodiversity and policy at the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Ocean acidification is the ongoing decrease in the pH of the Earth’s oceans, caused by a drastic increase in carbon dioxide emissions due to human activity. The report stresses that this phenomenon ...

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