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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ocean acidification

Ocean acidification

New version of seacarb (2.4)
Published 16 March 2011 Science Leave a Comment

seacarb is an R package that calculates parameters of the seawater carbonate system and includes functions useful for ocean acidification research. Version 2.4 has just been released. It provides three new functions and associated data sets. We are grateful to Andreas Andersson and Steeve Comeau who provided some of the code. Note that it may take a few days before the update is available for all operating systems and CRAN servers.
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Ocean acidification: The acid sea (photo gallery)
Published 16 March 2011 Media coverage 2 Comments

The carbon dioxide we pump into the air is seeping into the oceans and slowly acidifying them. One hundred years from now, will oysters, mussels, and coral reefs survive?

Castello Aragonese is a tiny island that rises straight out of the Tyrrhenian Sea like a tower. Seventeen miles west of Naples, it can be reached from the somewhat larger island of Ischia via a long, narrow stone bridge. The tourists who visit Castello Aragonese come to see what life was like in the past. They climb—or better yet, take the elevator—up to a massive castle, which houses a display of medieval torture instruments. The scientists who visit the island, by contrast, come to see what life will be like in the future.

Owing to a quirk of geology, the sea around Castello Aragonese provides a window onto the oceans of 2050 and beyond. Bubbles of CO2 rise from volcanic vents on the seafloor and dissolve to form carbonic acid. Carbonic acid is relatively weak; people drink it all the time in carbonated beverages. But if enough of it forms, it makes seawater corrosive. “When you get to the extremely high CO2, almost nothing can tolerate that,” Jason Hall-Spencer, a marine biologist from Britain’s University of Plymouth, explains. Castello Aragonese offers a natural analogue for an unnatural process: The acidification that has taken place off its shore is occurring more gradually across the world’s oceans, as they absorb more and more of the carbon dioxide that’s coming from tailpipes and smokestacks.
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Scientists probe Antarctic waters over acidification (video)
Published 16 March 2011 Media coverage Leave a Comment


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Opening for two post-doc positions in the CRE laboratory (closing 1-Apr-2011)
Published 16 March 2011 Jobs Leave a Comment

The CRE laboratory has openings for two Post-Doctoral Research Fellows. The first position will involve working on a Smart State funded project that explores the risks of rapidly warming and acidifying oceans to coral health. This exploration will be done within the large-scale mesocosms established at Heron Island Research Station. The second position will involve research to understand the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification on non-coral invertebrates, macroalgae and topological complexity.
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Investigation grant within the project “Responses of phytoplankton communities from the Subtropical North Atlantic Gyre to increasing CO2 concentrations and consequent carbonate chemistry changes in the ocean ‐ Azores (ROPICO2)”
Published 15 March 2011 Jobs Leave a Comment

Grant: Investigation grant
Scientific area: Environment and Global change

Summary: Open call for one investigation grant within the project “Responses of phytoplankton communities from the Subtropical North Atlantic Gyre to increasing CO2 concentrations and consequent carbonate chemistry changes in the ocean ‐ Azores (ROPICO2)” at the University of the Azores (Terceira). The scholarship includes field and laboratory work.

Job description: One investigation grant is open for a student with a master in Biology, or similar area, to work within a Project entitled “Responses of phytoplankton communities from the Subtropical North Atlantic Gyre to increasing CO2 concentrations and consequent carbonate chemistry changes in the ocean ‐ Azores (ROPICO2)”)” (PTDC/ACCCLI/112735/2009), financed by the Science and Technology Foundation of Portugal (FCT).
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Marine ecosystems’ responses to climatic and anthropogenic forcings in the Mediterranean by ’The MERMEX Group’
Published 15 March 2011 Science Leave a Comment
Tags: review

The semi-enclosed nature of the Mediterranean Sea, together with its smaller inertia due to the relative short residence time of its water masses, make it highly reactive to external forcings, in particular variations of water, energy and matter fluxes at the interfaces. This region, which has been identified as a “hotspot” for climate change, is therefore expected to experience environmental impacts that are considerably greater than those in many other places around the world. These natural pressures interact with the increasing demographic and economic developments occurring heterogeneously in the coastal zone, making the Mediterranean even more sensitive. This review paper aims to provide a review of the state of current functioning and responses of Mediterranean marine biogeochemical cycles and ecosystems with respect to key natural and anthropogenic drivers and to consider the ecosystems’ responses to likely changes in physical, chemical and socio-economical forcings induced by global change and by growing anthropogenic pressure at the regional scale. The current knowledge on and expected changes due to single forcing (hydrodynamics, solar radiation, temperature and acidification, chemical contaminants) and combined forcing (nutrient sources and stoichiometry, extreme events) affecting the biogeochemical fluxes and ecosystem functioning are explored. Expected changes in biodiversity resulting from the combined action of the different forcings are proposed. Finally, modeling capabilities and necessity for modeling are presented. Modeling acts as an integrative tool to investigate the question of how climate change and anthropogenic activities impact the cycle of biogenic elements and marine ecosystems. A synthesis of our current knowledge of expected changes is proposed, highlighting relevant questions for the future of the Mediterranean ecosystems that are current research priorities for the scientific community. Finally, we discuss how these priorities can be approached by national and international multi-disciplinary research, which should be implemented on several levels, including observational studies and modeling at different temporal and spatial scales.
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MEECE Summer School 2011: Marine ecosystem evolution in a changing environment
Published 14 March 2011 Meetings Leave a Comment

Marine ecosystems are changing in response to both climate drivers (acidification, light, circulation and temperature) and anthropogenic drivers (fishing, pollution, invasive species and eutrophication). It is essential that we develop the knowledge necessary to learn how to live with, and adapt to these changes. Predictive modelling provides a tool to allow us to explore the possible consequences of such changes.

The aim of this course is to expose graduate students and young scientists to recent developments and methodologies in the simulation of marine ecosystems and their response to a changing environment.
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Acidification and more: Newly recognized threats to marine life emerge as Earth warms
Published 14 March 2011 Media coverage Leave a Comment

When climate change leaped into global consciousness more than 20 years ago, the focus—as one might expect—was on the atmosphere. There was no doubt that sea levels would rise, with the expansion of warming oceans accompanied by a growing cascade of melt water from ice sheets and glaciers. But the main worry among policymakers and the public was how those rising seas would affect civilization, not on how the oceans themselves might be transformed.

Today, a growing body of evidence points to a web of changes already under way in ocean temperature, circulation, and biogeochemistry. These changes pose an array of risks to marine life that’s prompted a surge of research.

The best-known of the climate-related threats to ocean chemistry is acidification. The world’s oceans have soaked up roughly half a trillion tons of carbon dioxide, or about a third of all greenhouse gases produced by human activity since the Industrial Revolution. Because all that dissolved CO2 is weakly acidic, it’s been changing the pH balance of the oceans. On the logarithmic pH scale, the oceans—though still slightly alkaline—have moved toward acidity by about 0.1 point (roughly 30%).

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World Ocean Database 2001. Volume 6, Temporal distribution of pH, alkalinity, pCO2 and tCO2 profiles
Published 14 March 2011 Science Leave a Comment
Tags: chemistry

The oceanographic databases described by this atlas series greatly expands on the World Ocean Database 1998 (WOD98) product. We have expanded these earlier databases to include data from new instrument types such as profiling floats and new variables such as pCO2 and TCO2. Previous oceanographic databases including the NODC/WDC profile archives, and products derived from these databases, have proven to be of great utility to the international oceanographic, climate research, and operational environmental forecasting communities. In particular, the objectively analyzed fields of temperature and salinity derived from these databases have been used in a variety of ways. These include use as boundary and/or initial conditions in numerical ocean circulation models, for verification of numerical simulations of the ocean, as a form of “sea truth” for satellite measurements such as altimetric observations of sea surface height, and for planning oceanographic expeditions. Increasingly nutrient fields are being used to initialize and/or verify biogeochemical models of the world ocean. The databases, and products based on these databases, are critical for support of international assessment programs such as the Intergovernmental Program on Climate Change (IPCC) of the United Nations.
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Impacts of climate change in a global hotspot for temperate marine biodiversity and ocean warming
Published 14 March 2011 Science Leave a Comment
Tags: review

Temperate Australia is a global hotspot for marine biodiversity and its waters have experienced well-above global average rates of ocean warming. We review the observed impacts of climate change (e.g. warming, ocean acidification, changes in storm patterns) on subtidal temperate coasts in Australia and assess how these systems are likely to respond to further change. Observed impacts are region specific with the greatest number of species responses attributable to climate change reported in south-eastern Australia, where recent ocean warming has been most pronounced. Here, a decline of giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) and poleward range extension of a key herbivore (sea urchin) and other trophically important reef organisms has occurred. Although, evidence of changes on other coastlines around Australia is limited, we suggest that this is due to a lack of data rather than lack of change. Because of the east–west orientation of the south coast, most of Australia’s temperate waters are found within a narrow latitudinal band, where any southward movement of isotherms is likely to affect species across very large areas. Future increases in temperature are likely to result in further range shifts of macroalgae and associated species, with range contractions and local extinctions to be expected for species that have their northern limits along the southern coastline. While there is currently no evidence of changes attributable to non-temperature related climate impacts, potentially due to a lack of long-term observational data, experimental evidence suggests that ocean acidification will result in negative effects on calcifying algae and animals. More importantly, recent experiments suggest the combined effects of climate change and non-climate stressors (overharvesting, reduced water quality) will lower the resilience of temperate marine communities to perturbations (e.g. storms, diseases, and introduced species), many of which are also predicted to increase in frequency and/or severity. Thus climate change is likely to, both by itself and in synergy with other stressors, impose change to southern Australian coastal species, including important habitat-forming algae and the associated ecological functioning of temperate coasts. Management of local and regional-scale stresses may increase the resistance of temperate marine communities to climate stressors and as such, provides an attractive tool for building resilience in temperate systems.
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