New Challenges for Ocean Acidification Research

SpaceDaily.com January 2nd, 2015
Kiel, Germany

To continue its striking development, ocean acidification research needs to bridge ocean acidification between its diverging branches towards an integrated assessment. This is the conclusion drawn by Prof. Ulf Riebesell from GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel and Dr. Jean-Pierre Gattuso from the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and Universite Pierre et Marie Curie.

In a commentary in the journal “Nature Climate Change”, the two internationally renowned experts reflect on the lessons learned from ocean acidification research and highlight future challenges.

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 and interact to influence the development of marine organisms and communities.

Read more here

Study Committee Calls for Maine to Act on Ocean Acidification

Portland Press Herald, Dec 2nd, 2014 By Kevin Miller

A report to legislators says more research and local efforts are needed to deal with the threat to shellfish, including lobsters and clams.

AUGUSTA — Maine should increase research and monitoring into how rising acidity levels in oceans could harm the state’s valuable commercial fisheries while taking additional steps to reduce local pollution that can affect water chemistry.

Those are two major recommendations of a state commission charged with assessing the potential effects of ocean acidification on lobster, clams and other shellfish. The Legislature created the commission this year in response to concerns that, as atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have risen, the oceans have become 30 percent more acidic because oceans absorb the gas.

Researchers are concerned that organisms that form shells – everything from Maine’s iconic lobster to shrimp and the tiny plankton that are key links in the food chain – could find it more difficult to produce calcium carbonate for shells in more acidic seawater. They worry that the acidification could intensify as carbon levels rise and the climate warms.

Although research on Maine-specific species is limited, the commission of scientists, fishermen, lawmakers and LePage administration officials said the findings are “already compelling” enough to warrant action at the state and local level.

“While scientific research on the effects of ocean acidification on marine ecosystems and individual organisms is still in its infancy, Maine’s coastal communities need not wait for a global solution to address a locally exacerbated problem that is compromising their marine environment,” according to an unofficial version of the report unanimously endorsed by commission members Monday.

The panel’s report will be presented to the Legislature after Monday’s final edits are incorporated. Those recommendations include:

Work with the federal government, fishermen, environmental groups and trained citizens to actively monitor acidity changes in the water or sediments, and organisms’ response to those changes.

 Conduct more research across various species and age groups to get a better sense of how acidification is affecting the ecosystem.

 Identify ways to further reduce local and regional emissions of carbon dioxide – a greenhouse gas produced by the combustion of fossil fuels – and to reduce runoff of nitrogen, phosphorus and other nutrients that can contribute to acidification.

 Reduce the impact of acidification through natural methods, such as increasing the amount of photosynthesizing marine vegetation like eelgrass and kelp, promoting production of filter-feeding shellfish operations, and spreading pulverized shells in mudflats with high acidity.

 Create an ongoing ocean acidification council to monitor the situation, recommend additional steps and educate the public. This recommendation is the only concrete legislative proposal contained within the report.

Read more here

Lawmakers Pass East Coast’s First Ocean Acidification Bill

Maine Insights, By Ramona Du Houx, April 18th, 2014

The Legislature on Thursday passed the East Coast’s first bill to address the threat of ocean acidification as the Senate gave the measure its final approval with a vote of 33-0. The bill, LD 1602, now goes to Gov. Paul LePage.

“Maine has the opportunity to lead on this issue,” said Rep. Mick Devin, the bill’s sponsor and a marine biologist. “The overwhelming support for my bill shows that Maine understands that ocean acidification is a real problem. It poses a threat to our coastal environment and the jobs that depend on it. We must address this threat head-on.”

The measure would establish a commission to study and address the negative effects of ocean acidification on the ecosystem and major inshore shellfisheries. The committee membership would be made up of stakeholders including fishermen, aquaculturists, scientists and legislators.

Rising levels of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel use are causing changes in ocean chemistry. As carbon dioxide and seawater combine, carbonic acid forms. Carbonic acid can dissolve the shells of shellfish, an important commercial marine resource. Over the past two centuries, ocean acidity levels have increased 30 percent.

If left unchecked, ocean acidification could cause major losses to shellfisheries like clams, oysters, lobsters, shrimp and sea urchins and put at risk thousands of jobs and billions of dollars to the state’s economy.

Shellfish hatcheries on the West Coast have failed in recent years due to 60 to 80 percent production losses caused by ocean chemistry changes, which can take place quickly. A 2007 study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration discovered changes in ocean chemistry not expected for another 50 to 100 years on the West Coast.

Devin’s bill is one of the key legislative issues of the Environmental Priorities Coalition this year. The coalition cited research that found the Gulf of Maine is more susceptible to the effects of ocean acidification than other parts of the East Coast.

Read more here

Nervous Nemo: Ocean Acidification Could Make Fish Anxious

By Douglas Maine, December 6th, 2013  Livescience.com

Ocean acidification threatens to make fish, like this juvenile rockfish, more anxious.

Ocean acidification threatens to make fish, like this juvenile rockfish, more anxious.
Credit: Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Ocean acidification, which is caused by rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere being absorbed into the sea, has made many worry because of the problems it will likely create, such as a decline in shellfish and coral reefs. But humans may not be alone in their anxiety: Ocean acidification threatens to make fish more anxious as well (and not because they are reading about ocean acidification on LiveScience.com. At least so far as we know.)

A new study found that after being placed for a week in an aquarium with acidic seawater — as acidic as the oceans are expected to be on average in a century’s time — juvenile rockfish spent more time in a darkened corner, a hallmark of fish anxiety, and the same behavior exhibited by fish given an anxiety-inducing drug.

“They behaved the same way as fish made anxious with a chemical,” said Martin Tresguerres, a marine biologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego.

Read More Here

Maine’s ocean acidification bill to address harm to Maine’s coast advances

November 21st, 2013, MaineInsights.com

The Legislative Council on Thursday voted to reverse an earlier decision to reject a bill to address ocean acidification for the upcoming legislative session in January.

The measure sponsored by Rep. Mick Devin, would establish an 11-member commission to study and address the negative effects of ocean acidification.If left unchecked, ocean acidification could cause major losses to Maine’s major inshore shellfisheries, including clams, oysters, lobsters, shrimp and sea urchins, risking thousands of jobs and billions of dollars to the state’s economy.

“Maine’s marine resources support a billion dollar industry and thousands of jobs,” said Devin. “Ocean acidification has the potential to shut down Maine’s shellfish industry and we can’t afford to lose it.”

Rising levels of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel use are in part absorbed by the ocean. Because carbon dioxide and seawater combine to make carbonic acid, these naturally alkaline ocean waters become more acidic. Carbonic acid can dissolve the shells of shellfish, an important commercial marine resource. Over the past two centuries, ocean acidity levels have increased 30 percent.

Devin won his appeal by a vote of 7-3.

Nick Battista, Director of Marine Programs at the Island Institute, says that ocean acidification is one of the least understood threats facing Maine’s economy.

Read More Here