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Ocean acidification affects northeastern US coasts more: studyFriday Mar 1, 2013 5:13 PM
NOAA Environmental Visualization Lab & LiveScience.com
Some U.S. coastal waters resist ocean acidification better than others.
Coastal regions around the United States respond differently to ocean acidification, a large-scale study finds.
In the new study, scientists from 11 U.S. institutions measured levels of carbon dioxide and other forms of carbon in waters off the East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico. If the same amount of carbon dioxide entered both the Gulf of Maine and the Gulf of Mexico, it would have a greater effect on the Gulf of Maine's ecosystem, the scientists found.
"Before now, we haven't had a very clear picture of acidification status on the East Coast of the U.S.," lead study author Zhaohui 'Aleck' Wang, a chemical oceanographer at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), said in a statement. "It's important that we start to understand it, because [an] increase in ocean acidity could deeply affect marine life along the coast and has important implications for people who rely on aquaculture and fisheries," Wang said.
Coastal ocean acidification occurs when excess carbon dioxide is absorbed by, washes into or is produced in coastal oceans, triggering chemical reactions that make the water more acidic. Species like oysters, snails and coral are disproportionally affected, because they cannot form their protective shells in highly acidic conditions.
The researchers set sail off of Galveston, Texas, and made their way past Louisiana, around Florida, and up the East Coast, collecting water samples between the coasts to as far as 300 miles offshore. They measured different forms of carbon and compared that with the water's total alkalinity (a measure of how basic it is, the opposite measure of acidity). The ratio of alkalinity to carbon tells scientists how well the water can resist, or "buffer," changes in acidity.
They found that the Gulf of Mexico waters, for the most part, were more resistant to acidification compared with more northern regions. The waters became less acid-resistant as the researchers moved north from Georgia, and the Gulf of Maine had the lowest ability of the entire Eastern Seaboard to resist acidification.
The results show that waters along the northeast U.S. coast are more susceptible to acidification than southern-facing regions of the country. It's not yet clear what's causing the greater susceptibility near Maine, but its cold ocean currents may be bringing fresh, low-alkalinity water south from the Labrador Sea, Wang said. If so, climate change could melt sea ice and glaciers and bring in more fresh water, though whether this would make the water more susceptible to acidification is unknown.
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increases ocean acidity
One of my conclusions from studying all this so far is that frozen methane hydrates below 1600 feet in depth around the world are melting and turning as it rises into CO2 and other things. As it does this which is caused by the oceans warming and ice melting in the arctic and antarctic CO2 gets higher and higher in both the ocean and the air worldwide.
Basically, now we are in a vicious cycle that might not be broken of acidification of the oceans, fast increases of CO2 in the atmosphere (greenhouse effect), the death or mutation of all sea life and temperatures headed towards 76 degrees Fahrentheit at the north and south poles eventually. What happens then?
For now, grape wine growers move closer towards the poles. Farmers likely will begin doing the same thing if they want to grow the same crops. Staying where they are they are going to have to grow different crops from a warmer area of earth.
I'm not sure what aquaculture people do unless the move further north or further south too where it is still cool enough with enough oxygen in the water for them to be able to still catch fish etc.