Acid oceans

Seattle Times: Broad stretch of Pacific ocean confirmed to be more acid as CO2 soaks in:
[Via Knight Science Journalism Tracker]

A University of South Florida team published this week what may be the first sign at the scale of an entire ocean basin that sea water acidity is measurably increasing due to higher levels of carbon dioxide. And almost nobody wrote it up.

The exception in view to the Tracker and among traditional media is the Seattle Times, where Sandi Doughton got it in Wednesday’s edition. The news, from a team at the University of South Florida with participation by Seattle-area scientists, has its results in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. Data are from water samples gathered (including from the vessel pictured, UWash’s R/V Thomas G. Thompson) from waters between Hawaii and Alaska in 1991 and again three years ago. They report finding that, when the logarithmic pH scale is converted to a linear measure, acidity in the top 300 feet of ocean has risen about 6 percent.

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This, to me, is the most worrisome aspect of carbon dioxide – water absorbs it, lowering the ocean’s pH. Things with external calcium structures, such as coral or plankton, are unable to properly form them if the pH is just slightly more acidic than ocean water is today.

And if plankton levels crash, so does the entire ocean ecosystem that lives off of plankton. Not too good.

All those denialists who claim our carbon dioxide is having no effect on climate should be worried about the carbon dioxide effects on pH.

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