The Origin and Impacts of Ocean Acidification
Videos, Sun, Mar 21st, 2010
Richard Feely discusses new findings about how increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is making the oceans more acidic, and how that will affect ocean ecosystems and the marine animals that inhabit them.
Editor’s Note: This video is the first in a three-part series in which Dr. Richard Feely, a senior scientist at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, discusses the origin and impacts of ocean acidification. See also:
Part 2: How Will Animals Be Affected by Ocean Acidification?
Part 3: How Will Ocean Ecosystems Be Affected by Ocean Acidification?
What is ocean acidification?
Feely: The process of burning fossil fuels — coal and oil and natural gas — over the last two hundred years has released about 500 billion metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere as carbon. You might think of it this way: We’re releasing right now about 70 million tons of CO2 every day into the atmosphere. And about a third of that, about 20 million tons of CO2, is being absorbed regularly by the oceans. And that ocean uptake then of 20 million tons of CO2 has caused, over the last 200 years or so, about a .1 pH change. pH is a logarithmic scale just like the Richter Scale. So a .1 pH change represents about a 30 percent increase in the overall acidity of the oceans. So the ocean has dropped its pH so far from about 8.2 to about 8.1.
Using present day scenarios of CO2 emissions, we might expect to see a further pH drop of about .3 to .4 pH units, which would mean an increase in acidity of another 150 to 200 hundred percent. This is a dramatic change in the acidity of the oceans. And it has a serious impact on our ocean ecosystems; in particular, it has an impact on any species of calcifying organism that produces a calcium carbonate shell.
To learn more about Richard Feely’s and his team’s research on ocean acidification, please see the ClimateWatch article, titled An Upwelling Crisis: Ocean Acidification.
Credit: Video copyright Oregon Sea Grant Communications, Oregon State University. Directed and produced by Joe Cone, videographer, and Stevon Roberts, video editor.The Origin and Impacts of Ocean Acidification ,
Spring 2013 has brought something fairly unusual in recent years—colder-than-average temperature for the nation as a whole. NOAA’s Deke Arndt talks about how spring temperatures in three U.S. climate divisions compare to the local long-term trend.
During late winter, Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas received sorely needed rain which helped reduce short-term impacts, like wildfire and dry topsoil. But it has taken months to develop deep and severe drought in the region, and a few wet weeks won’t erase that situation. It can take months of ideal conditions to bring soil, rivers, and vegetation back to health.
On any given day or any given month, somebody somewhere experiences colder-than-average temperature, even though the globe as a whole is warmer than average. We know this through climate monitoring, which entails measuring temperature on land and across the ocean.