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pottyprof

The Future of the World's Oceans and Seas

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What is in store for two thirds of our planet? Is the carbon cycle dropping hints about the future of the oceans? If the ocean becomes more acidic, what happens to the animal kingdom and plants that rely on them? Is there anything we can do to prevent any failure of the support systems or is it already too late considering the length of the circulation currents?

Discuss....... :)

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One thing is certain and that is we will see further changes to this area of the globe.

The Ocean has provided a huge sink for CO2 but it can also turn into a net producer of CO2 if we impact global temps too much.

As with the Polar ice Cap the oceans can feel a little 'remote' to many of us and so changes there appear far away but as New York just discovered recent changes to sea level alone can bring far reaching finacial impacts and cripple Cities infrastructures.

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I would recommend a book that touches on this subject, "The Dance of Air and Sea; How oceans , weather and life link together", by Arnold H Taylor..

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Animals are already dissolving in Southern Ocean acid

In a small patch of the Southern Ocean, the shells of sea snails are dissolving. The finding is the first evidence that marine life is already suffering as a result of man-made ocean acidification.

"This is actually happening now," says Geraint Tarling of the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, UK. He and colleagues captured free-swimming sea snails called pteropods from the Southern Ocean in early 2008 and found under an electron microscope that the outer layers of their hard shells bore signs of unusual corrosion.

As well as warming the planet, the carbon dioxide we emit is changing the chemistry of the ocean. CO2 dissolves in water to form carbonic acid, making the water less alkaline. The pH is currently dropping at about 0.1 per century, faster than any time in the last 300 million years.

Lab experiments have shown that organisms with hard shells, such as corals and molluscs, will suffer as a result. To build their shells, corals and molluscs need to take up calcium carbonate from the water, but more carbonic acid means more hydrogen ions in the water. These react with carbonate ions, making them unavailable to form calcium carbonate.

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New study out next week:

 

Emissions of CO2 driving rapid oceans 'acid trip'

 

The world's oceans are becoming acidic at an "unprecedented rate" and may be souring more rapidly than at any time in the past 300 million years.

 
In their strongest statement yet on this issue, scientists say acidification could increase by 170% by 2100. They say that some 30% of ocean species are unlikely to survive in these conditions. The researchers conclude that human emissions of CO2 are clearly to blame. The study will be presented at global climate talks in Poland next week.
 
In 2012, over 500 of the world's leading experts on ocean acidification gathered in California. Led by the International Biosphere-Geosphere Programme, a review of the state of the science has now been published. This Summary for Policymakers states with "very high confidence" that increasing acidification is caused by human activities which are adding 24 million tonnes of CO2 to oceans every day.
 
Pickled waters
 
The addition of so much carbon has altered the chemistry of the waters. Since the start of the industrial revolution, the waters have become 26% more acidic. "This is the state of the art," said Prof Jean-Pierre Gattuso, from CNRS, the French national research agency. "My colleagues have not found in the geological record, rates of change that are faster than the ones we see today." What worries the scientists is the potential impact on many ocean species including corals.
 
Studies carried out at deep sea vents where the waters are naturally acidic thanks to CO2, indicate that around 30% of the ocean's biodiversity may be lost by the end of this century. These vents may be a "window on the future" according to the researchers. The oceans are thought to have absorbed up to half of the extra CO2 put into the atmosphere in the industrial age
This has lowered their pH by 0.1 pH is the measure of acidity and alkalinity
 
It usually ranges from pH 0 (very acidic) to pH 14 (very alkaline); 7 is neutral Seawater is mildly alkaline with a "natural" pH of about 8.2 "You don't find a mollusc at the pH level expected for 2100, this is really quite a stunning fact," said Prof Gattuso. "It's an imperfect window, only the ocean's acidity is increasing at these sites, they don't reflect the warming we will see this century. "If you combine the two, it could be even more dramatic than what we see at CO2 vents."
 
The effect of acidity is currently being felt most profoundly felt in the Arctic and Antarctic oceans. These chilly waters hold more CO2 and increasing levels of the gas are turning them acidic more rapidly than the rest of the world. The more acidic they become, the more damaging they are to the shells and skeletons of marine organisms. The researchers say that by 2020, ten percent of the Arctic will be inhospitable to species that build their shells from calcium carbonate. By 2100 the entire Arctic will be a hostile environment.
 
These effects are already visible says Prof Gattuso. "In the Southern Ocean, we already see corrosion of pteropods which are like sea snails, in the ocean we see corrosion of the shell. "They are a key component in the food chain, they are eaten by fish, birds and whales, so if one element is going then there is a cascading impact on the whole food chain."
 
The authors warn that the economic impact of the losses from aquaculture could be huge - the global cost of the decline in molluscs could be $130bn by 2100 if emissions of CO2 continue on their current pathway. Adding alkaline substances such as crushed limestone to the waters has been mooted as a potential way of mitigating the worst impacts of acidification. But Prof Gattuso says it would only have a limited effect. "Maybe in bays which have a restricted exchange with open oceans it may work, it may give some local relief. "But the latest research is showing that it is not really practical at a global scale. It is very expensive and very energy intensive."
 
Marine protection zones would also give some short term benefit, but the scientists say that in the long term only significant cuts in emissions will slow the progress of acidification.
 

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Joe Public does not have a great 'connect' with Oceanic Acidity as an issue. He must turn to our scientists for all his knowledge and the slating some quarters subject 'science' to might lead to some dismissing changes as "Yet another Bloody Scare Story".

 

Sadly it appears this could be far from the reality with high acidity undermining the base of the food chain and so impacting the full oceanic ecosystem.

 

I think there is no escaping the fact that we were wrong in committing so much carbon , long removed, back into the carbon cycle (over such a short span of time). Nature does Her best to not have it impact life on Earth ( imagine if the oceans had not sequestered the amounts of CO2 that they have!!) but eventually it must.

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Great article/blog from Helen Czerski on her work as an Oceanographer on the R/V Knorr research vessel checking oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the sea and air in the North Atlantic:

 

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/dec/01/extreme-science-weather-climate-seas-oceanographer

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Sounds like a normal trip on an Ocean weather Ship.Posted Image

Edited by knocker

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Sounds like a normal trip on an Ocean weather Ship.Posted Image

 

People who go out there and get stuck in are by far preferable to desk-bound jockeys who make stuff up with computer models.

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People who go out there and get stuck in are by far preferable to desk-bound jockeys who make stuff up with computer models.

 

I quite agree. I spent twenty years out there.

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Good on you Knocker. You should tell us about it, I am sure you must have a tale or two to tell.

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One or two but some not suitable for young eyes. Still when you experience nature in the raw it helps not to have a skipper who is completely insane.

 

Once during a F12 I was quietly sitting in my cabin aft having a guinness or ten with my boss when the captain in his wisdom decided to turn the ship around and run with the sea. Something anyone in their right mind would never do. Sure enough we shipped a huge sea, if the water tight doors hadn't held I wouldn't be here, but even then there was water shooting through the vents and pouring through the keyhole in the door and was about knee high in the cabin which was also plunged into darkness as obviously the power had failed.

 

There was a moment of silence and then my boss said, "any guinness left". You have to think quickly and prioritise in these situations.. That wasn't the storm where the pressure dropped 22MB in three hours.

 

The skipper never sailed again and was duly retired to his narrow boat in Lancashire.

Edited by knocker

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Thanks for the 'history' Knock's.

 

I'm sure it helps folk ( esp. the lurkers) see where your compassion and commitment , these days, comes from and , I'm sure, that it helps qualify (and quantify) your frustration when dealing with malcontents, bereft of such personal experience, when it comes to qualifying their own personal rants against Scientific evidence they cannot fully comprehend?

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Now that really was was not called for GW. Please mind your manners.

 

It's not like "desk-bound jockeys who make stuff up with computer models" is the height of fine manners. Lets not be hypocrites.

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Also,would that warming be the same warming in only the Indian Ocean and South Atlantic oceans, or are they now utilising all recordings of oceanic temperatures.

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Is that an attempt at trying to excuse the pause, can't take it seriously as it's from a blog site and a poor one at that.

 

Tunnel vision SI? Your opinion of the blog and data, and a pretty poor one at that.

 

Also,would that warming be the same warming in only the Indian Ocean and South Atlantic oceans, or are they now utilising all recordings of oceanic temperatures.

 

What do you think? Perhaps a read of the actual sources for the data? Might teach you something.

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Is that an attempt at trying to excuse the pause, can't take it seriously as it's from a blog site and a poor one at that.

 

Quite

 

Posted Image

Posted Image

Edited by knocker

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Tunnel vision SI? Your opinion of the blog and data, and a pretty poor one at that.

What do you think? Perhaps a read of the actual sources for the data? Might teach you something.

Not at all as all previous data was using only selected data from the Indian and South Atlantic oceans, why I've no idea. Also the site in question is and remains a poor blogging site frequented by those looking to get their fix of doctored doom and gloom.

Quite

Posted Image

Posted Image

Global surface temps have still not risen for 17 years, no amount of tinkering can change this. Edited by Sceptical Inquirer

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Not at all as all previous data was using only selected data from the Indian and South Atlantic oceans, why I've no idea.Global surface temps have still not risen for 17 years, no amount of tinkering can change this.

 

Reading the data sources may prove enlightening.

 

I haven't visibly aged in 2 days, there for ageing is a myth. No amount of tinkering can change this.

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