WASHINGTON (AP) — Seawater — increasingly acidic due to global warming — is eating away the limestone framework for the coral reef of the upper Florida Keys, according to a new study. It’s something that scientists had expected, but not… Read More ›
Though the tide can’t be totally turned back, the report, “Major Findings, Recommendations, and Actions,” found ways to blunt the environmental and economic impact now.
“Communities around the country are increasingly vulnerable to ocean acidification and long-term environmental changes,” said Richard Spinrad, chief scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and former OSU vice president for research. “It is crucial that we comprehend how ocean chemistry is changing in different places…”
Two cold winters have given the gulf some breathing space, but climate models and recorded trends indicate our seas are going to keep warming, with the conditions experienced in the “ocean heat wave” becoming the new normal by mid-century. The result will be dramatic changes in an ecosystem Mainers have relied on since the end of the last ice age, ones for which our communities, industries and government are poorly prepared to face.
“Overall, we found there’s a decrease in species diversity and abundance irrespective of what ecosystem we are looking at. These are broad scale impacts, made worse when you combine the effect of warming with acidification.
That culprit, ocean acidification, is the caustic cousin of climate change, and it shifts the chemistry of ocean water, making it harder for oysters to grow. That’s because about 30 percent of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere is absorbed by the ocean, causing pH levels to plummet and making the water more acidic. The more pollution in the air, the more carbon dioxide the ocean absorbs.