Oh snap! CO2 causes some ocean critters to build more shells

And some thought ocean acidification would destroy everything.

“We were surprised that some organisms didn’t behave in the way we expected under elevated CO2″…“They were somehow able to manipulate CO2…to build their skeletons.”

From the Wood Hole Oceanographic Institute press release, just in time for Copenhagen.

Conchs

The conch shell at left was exposed to current CO2 levels; the shell at right was exposed to the highest levels in the study. (Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

In a striking finding that raises new questions about carbon dioxide’s (CO2) impact on marine life, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) scientists report that some shell-building creatures—such as crabs, shrimp and lobsters—unexpectedly build more shell when exposed to ocean acidification caused by elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2).

Because excess CO2 dissolves in the ocean—causing it to “acidify” —researchers have been concerned about the ability of certain organisms to maintain the strength of their shells. Carbon dioxide is known to trigger a process that reduces the abundance of carbonate ions in seawater—one of the primary materials that marine organisms use to build their calcium carbonate shells and skeletons.

The concern is that this process will trigger a weakening and decline in the shells of some species and, in the long term, upset the balance of the ocean ecosystem.

But in a study published in the Dec. 1 issue of Geology, a team led by former WHOI postdoctoral researcher Justin B. Ries found that seven of the 18 shelled species they observed actually built more shell when exposed to varying levels of increased acidification. This may be because the total amount of dissolved inorganic carbon available to them is actually increased when the ocean becomes more acidic, even though the concentration of carbonate ions is decreased.

“Most likely the organisms that responded positively were somehow able to manipulate…dissolved inorganic carbon in the fluid from which they precipitated their skeleton in a way that was beneficial to them,” said Ries, now an assistant professor in marine sciences at the University of North Carolina. “They were somehow able to manipulate CO2…to build their skeletons.”

Organisms displaying such improvement also included calcifying red and green algae, limpets and temperate urchins. Mussels showed no effect.

“We were surprised that some organisms didn’t behave in the way we expected under elevated CO2,” said Anne L. Cohen, a research specialist at WHOI and one of the study’s co-authors. “What was really interesting was that some of the creatures, the coral, the hard clam and the lobster, for example, didn’t seem to care about CO2 until it was higher than about 1,000 parts per million [ppm].” Current atmospheric CO2 levels are about 380 ppm, she said. Above this level, calcification was reduced in the coral and the hard clam, but elevated in the lobster

Urchins

The larger of these two pencil urchins was exposed to currrent CO2 levels; the smaller was exposed to the highest CO2 levels in the study. (Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

The “take-home message, “ says Cohen, is that “we can’t assume that elevated CO2 causes a proportionate decline in calcification of all calcifying organisms.” WHOI and the National Science Foundation funded the work.

Conversely, some organisms—such as the soft clam and the oyster—showed a clear reduction in calcification in proportion to increases in CO2. In the most extreme finding, Ries, Cohen and WHOI Associate Scientist Daniel C. McCorkle exposed creatures to CO2 levels more than seven times the current level.

This led to the dissolving of aragonite—the form of calcium carbonate produced by corals and some other marine calcifiers.  Under such exposure, hard and soft clams, conchs, periwinkles, whelks and tropical urchins began to lose their shells.  “If this dissolution process continued for sufficient time, then these organisms could lose their shell completely,” he said, “rendering them defenseless to predators.”

“Some organisms were very sensitive,” Cohen said, “some that have commercial value. But there were a couple that didn’t respond to CO2 or didn’t respond till it was sky-high—about 2,800 parts per million. We’re not expecting to see that [CO2 level] anytime soon.”

The researchers caution, however, that the findings—and acidification’s overall impact—may be more complex than it appears. For example, Cohen says that available food and nutrients such as nitrates, phosphates and iron may help dictate how some organisms respond to carbon dioxide.

“We know that nutrients can be very important,” she says. “We have found that corals for example, that have plenty of food and nutrients can be less sensitive” to CO2. “In this study, the organisms were well fed and we didn’t constrain the nutrient levels.

“I wouldn’t make any predictions based on these results. What these results indicate to us is that the organism response to elevated CO2 levels is complex and we now need to go back and study each organism in detail.”

Ries concurs that any possible ramifications are complex. For example, the crab exhibited improved shell-building capacity, and its prey, the clams, showed reduced calcification.  “This may initially suggest that crabs could benefit from this shift in predator-pray dynamics.  But without shells, clams may not be able to sustain their populations, and this could ultimately impact crabs in a negative way, as well,” Ries said.

In addition, Cohen adds, even though some organisms such as crabs and lobsters appear to benefit under elevated CO2 conditions, the energy they expend in shell building under these conditions “might divert from other important processes such as reproduction or tissue building.”

Since the industrial revolution, Ries noted, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have increased from 280 to nearly 400 ppm. Climate models predict levels of 600 ppm in 100 years, and 900 ppm in 200 years.

“The oceans absorb much of the CO2 that we release to the atmosphere,” Ries says.  However, he warns that this natural buffer may ultimately come at a great cost.

“It’s hard to predict the overall net effect on benthic marine ecosystems, he says. “In the short term, I would guess that the net effect will be negative. In the long term, ecosystems could re-stabilize at a new steady state.

“The bottom line is that we really need to bring down CO2 levels in the atmosphere.”

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a private, independent organization in Falmouth, Mass., dedicated to marine research, engineering, and higher education. Established in 1930 on a recommendation from the National Academy of Sciences, its primary mission is to understand the oceans and their interaction with the Earth as a whole, and to communicate a basic understanding of the oceans’ role in the changing global environment.

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225 Responses to Oh snap! CO2 causes some ocean critters to build more shells

  1. savethesharks says:

    Fascinating.

    After all that….THIS conclusion line: “The bottom line is that we really need to bring down CO2 levels in the atmosphere.”

    Circular reasoning at its best!

    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  2. Spenc BC says:

    Another startling story that I have not seen posted here.

  3. Bill Illis says:

    Next, we’ll be reading a study that shows increased CO2 is good for plants as well.

    CO2 was as high as 7,000 ppm when shell-based organisms evolved so

  4. Spenc BC says:

    Sorry post this instead. Amazing story I am not sure was posted here yet. I could not find it at any rate.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703939404574566124250205490.html

  5. Robert M says:

    Well darn,

    What is a wanna be global government supporter supposed to do now? The global warming train has wrecked and now, the ocean acidification fallback that we have been planning is turning out to be easily refuted. We can’t really go back to painting communists as the bogeyman, for he is us. I guess we could turn on all of those convenient idiots environmentalists, but they are not really scary, just gullible. What to do?

    /sarc

  6. Alvin says:

    The entire report sounds scientific and informative, positive. Then the final block:

    “The oceans absorb much of the CO2 that we release to the atmosphere,” Ries says. However, he warns that this natural buffer may ultimately come at a great cost.

    “It’s hard to predict the overall net effect on benthic marine ecosystems, he says. “In the short term, I would guess that the net effect will be negative. In the long term, ecosystems could re-stabilize at a new steady state.

    “The bottom line is that we really need to bring down CO2 levels in the atmosphere.”

    [snip] Is that really the bottom line? It seems to me that the bottom line is that the ocean is an ever-changing and adapting set of systems that we don’t fully understand yet. How about that?

  7. a jones says:

    We need more research funds because we didn’t find out very much. Moreover we did not check whether such high levels of CO2 could possibly occur.

    CO2 science has a better and comprehensive database on this.

    Kindest Regards

  8. jorgekafkazar says:

    “The bottom line is that we really need to bring down CO2 levels in the atmosphere.”

    Uh, non-sequitur, I think. The article fails to mention that organisms can (given enough time) adapt to changing conditions. The rise in CO² is gradual enough that it will take centuries to reach the levels of the experiments. The conclusion is bunk, a sop thrown to the Warmist willies.

  9. David Ball says:

    The bottom line did not make a lot of sense to me. Unless I was promoting a certain idea about a certain theory. Some very convoluted thinking in this one.

  10. Patrick Davis says:

    Love this bit of scaremogering…

    “Since the industrial revolution, Ries noted, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have increased from 280 to nearly 400 ppm. Climate models predict levels of 600 ppm in 100 years, and 900 ppm in 200 years.”

    Took more than 150 years to go from ~250 ppm/v to ~385 ppm/v there a good few years to go before we get anywhere near 400 ppm/v.

  11. JohnWho says:

    Aren’t we still at or near a historical low level of atmospheric CO2? If so, shouldn’t continued study focus on the benefits that may accrue as the CO2 levels return to what are closer to historic “norms”?

    Just wondering.

  12. Clive says:

    I hate to be a cynic, but the statements are contradictory. Yes? No?

    “I wouldn’t make any predictions based on these results. What these results indicate to us is that the organism response to elevated CO2 levels is complex and we now need to go back and study each organism in detail.”

    I read this as “we do not know and need more grant money.”

    Yet the closing comment was, “The bottom line is that we really need to bring down CO2 levels in the atmosphere.”

    Huh?

    Oh well just one more thing to add one more to THE LIST ! ☺

    A complete list of things caused by global warming

    http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/warmlist.htm

  13. James says:

    Pity the subeditor didn’t apply the pyramid principle and start cutting from the bottom up. And stop after the last line.

  14. Kevin Cave says:

    The cognitive dissonance is frightening;

    1) “Despite increased CO2 in seawater leading to acidification, sea life adapts and even builds MORE shells”..

    2) “Even though sea life can adapt, we humans must reduce CO2 in the atmosphere”

    You know, I’m shaking my head slowly in disbelief as I type this. Is it just me, or does it seem quite, quite obvious that, no matter the changing conditions of air and water on this planet, life has done and always will be able to adapt to the changing conditions? Somebody tell me it’s really not that obvious!

    Homo Sapiens have only been on this planet for what, 10′s of thousand of years? Most other species of life have been on this planet for millions if not billions of years. Only human arrogance can come up with the conclusion that we can basically bioengineer a whole planet to suit our needs and what we /think/ are the needs of everything else.

    Finally, to paraphrase Ripley from Aliens: “Have IQ’s suddenly dropped since I was away?”

  15. TerryBixler says:

    Striking that some creatures do better with more CO2 and many others are not affected at all. Conclusion we should reduce CO2 to harm the creatures that CO2 helps. Makes sense to me as I am in charge of everything, really. Kind of like “NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.” Good to know that some creatures do better with more CO2, historical record shows the same but nice to know things have not changed.

  16. crosspatch says:

    “It’s hard to predict the overall net effect on benthic marine ecosystems, he says.”

    Look at fossils of shelled animals when CO2 levels were much higher.

  17. DaveH says:

    People that maintain salt water aquariums and who like to grow coral frequently use a Calcium reactor to add nutrients specific for coral growth.

    http://www.marinedepot.com/calcium_reactors__index-ap.html

    Key inputs are CO2 gas and dead bits of coral. Replicates the natural recycling in the marine environment (which requires CO2 to happen…)

  18. Bill H says:

    What I find interesting is that the Oceans have systems themselves and the animals like us adapt and evolve.

    The earth has had times of +4000ppm CO2 and were still here… what occurred that allowed the level to decrease? (Ice Age?) but the balancing act of the earth we do not even have a clue how it all works… Yet we have people who think were all gonna die tomorrow because of CO2…

    Climate-Gate has opened up the scientific community to publish those potentially unpopular positions which would disprove AGW alarmist propaganda.

  19. Patrick Davis says:

    “Kevin Cave (19:58:30) :

    Finally, to paraphrase Ripley from Aliens: “Have IQ’s suddenly dropped since I was away?”

    OT but I prefer the line: “You don’t see them ****ing each other over for a goddamn percentage.”

  20. rbateman says:

    Well, I’ll be dipped in carbonated Climate Change sauce.
    You mean to tell me that no matter what the C02 content, some creatures will thrive and some won’t?
    That’s almost as crazy as watching some weeds and plants thriving under elevated GCR’s/Deep Solar Minimum while others wilt.
    Hey, aren’t we supposed to be the intelligent life-form on this planet?
    Oh, yeah, I almost forgot, before we got all smart, we adapted.

  21. evanmjones says:

    The ocean sink has 38,000 BMTC. Anthropogenic CO2 (indirectly) increases this by about 2 BMTC/year. On the face of it, I don’t see an emergency.

  22. Alvin says:

    Bill, remember that the greenies are not overly worried about US dying off. It all about the coral ;)

  23. Mike says:

    Everything you need to know about ocean acidification:

    http://www.seafriends.org.nz/issues/global/acid.htm

  24. Steve Fitzpatrick says:

    How the heck does:

    “Wow, now that’s a surprise. It isn’t as bad as we thought, nothing bad happens with shells until over 1,000 PPM, and er, um, that’s at least 200 years away, if ever.”

    get spun into:

    “We need to reduce CO2 emissions…. now.”

    Almost unbelievable. Are they just stupid or do they think everyone else is?
    And they wonder why the public doesn’t think global warming is the most serious problem faced by mankind.

  25. D. King says:

    “I would guess that the net effect will be negative. In the long term, ecosystems could re-stabilize at a new steady state.”

    net effect will be negative.
    re-stabilize at a new steady state.

    I think he means on his planet.

  26. Glenn says:

    But but but polar bears are drowning and kittens are exploding!

  27. FHSIV says:

    If I had to guess what is the largest sink of carbon on earth was, I’d have to say carbonate sediments (i.e. limestone and dolomite)! Those pesky liitle marine organisms have been fixing carbonate out of sea water for a couple billion years now.

    It has been as few years, but If I remember correctly, the accumulation of biogenic carbonate on the sea floor is at least partly controlled by something called the calcium (or carbonate?) compensation depth (CCD). This is the depth in the ocean below which calcium carbonate is no longer stable due to greater pressures which are unfavorable to the to the crystalline form resulting in dissolution back into the seawater. As the partial pressure of CO2 in the atmosphere increases an equilibrium reaction causes the CCD to deepen. This results in a greater area of the sea floor where calcium carbonate can accumulate and effectively remove CO2 from the system.

    How much of this do I have wrong? Can anyone give me a good reference to brush up on this ocean chemistry?

    Thanks

  28. crosspatch says:

    “On the face of it, I don’t see an emergency.”

    Cap and Trade bill stalled in Australia and the US. Copenhagen possibly in shambles if third world nations walk out. Climategate. There’s an emergency, alright.

  29. Spenc BC says:

    Last post for the night I promise. I am noticing that major news outlets are taking a harder line at least in the papers. Is Mann next?

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/dec/02/universities-take-action-on-climategate/

  30. pat says:

    Hmmmm. Those long unused genetic strands kicked in right on time. And aren’t the dissimilarities between the post and pre fascinating? A more formidable defense. And note the CO2 absorption. It seems like some fauna, like flora, relishes the availability of a bit of CO2.

  31. Doug Ferguson says:

    Interesting findings! Wonder what happens when the increases in CO2 are gradual over many years(sort’a like the real world)? Do you suppose the life forms adapt and evolve? Another finding that shows we’re not as knowledgable about our ecosystems as we think!

    Also as it happens, I am reading “Heaven and Earth” by Ian Plimer. In his chapter 6 on water, pps. 331-339 he discusses in depth the whole question of what we know about CO2 and ocean acidity. He mentions(p. 336 – references are extensively sited throughout the arcticle) that in the geological past, higher atmospheric CO2 has made it easier to form shells, so I don’t know why this is such a suprise to this research team. I suggest that they read Ian’s book and look up and read all the research papers he references.

    Doug in Mankato, MN

  32. John F. Hultquist says:

    One might hypothesize that insofar as humans are used to a certain amount of O2 in the atmosphere at sea level and that as one goes up in elevation, humans could not breathe and live except near sea level. Some of these folks didn’t get the message:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_highest_towns_by_country

    In this case the analogy does break down because there are mountains sufficiently high that the oxygen just isn’t here. So the question might then be raised whether or not the world-ocean can actually be brought to a state that might supersede the abilities of these organisms to adapt. From reading some of the studies on CO2 Science (http://co2science.org/) it doesn’t seem so.

  33. John says:

    Carbon dioxide is estimated to have been something like 1500 ppm during parts of the Carboniferous Period and, as Bill H pointed out, are estimated to have been even higher during other periods and life in the oceans somehow managed to survive. I guess they need to “get rid of” the Carboniferous Period, too.

  34. KimW says:

    “The bottom line is that we really need to bring down CO2 levels in the atmosphere.” That conclusion simply does not follow from the body of the paper. it is the obligatory nod to AGW, somewhat like the North Korean press releases that give credit to Kim Il Jong and the indomitable juche spirit. It is frightening to think that such obligations to mention AGW are now considered necessary. Frankly, I welcome our new insect overlords.

  35. Ray says:

    Maybe this is why when CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere were 2000 ppm the shellfishes were so huge, back then!

  36. Eric Anderson says:

    There is an interesting presentation available that I thought of when I saw the above post:

    Craig Idso’s PowerPoint presentation “Carbon Dioxide, Global Warming and Coral Reefs: Prospects for the Future”

    http://www.heartland.org/bin/media/newyork09/PowerPoint/Craig_Idso.ppt

  37. JEM says:

    So in other words if CO2 levels in the oceans go up, the lobsters get tougher and less meaty.

    My wife would be mad…

  38. syphax says:

    The caption on the urchin graphic is BACKWARDS. From the press release:

    “The larger of these two pencil urchins was exposed to currrent CO2 levels; the smaller was exposed to the highest CO2 levels in the study.”

    I am going to assume this was a careless error driven by wishful thinking…
    REPLY: Thanks corrected. I’ve moved over the caption from WHOI. Interesting thing though, the left right relationship is reversed in the two pictures they provide. The study suggests that both increases and decreases are seen, and that’s the surprise of it all. But if their own captions are correct, then they only showed one side of the result, and the not the most surprising part.

    It may be that they themselves reversed a caption. I’ll inquire. – A

  39. Sunfighter says:

    What!? Animals can adapt too?! Without humans helping?! The environmentalists beg to differ!

  40. Paul Vaughan says:

    “We were surprised [...]“

    Tip to scientists: Maybe don’t admit your lack of creativity publicly.

  41. Richard says:

    I assume the research was done before Climategate so we should be interpreting the last line as “lotsa and lotsa money out there for warming climate research and since we like grant money, we need to stay on the warmists’ good side by toeing the party line.”

  42. syphax says:

    When discussing high paleo CO2 levels, it’s worth remembering that the ocean’s alkalinity was also much higher, as well.

  43. D. King says:

    John (20:20:52) :

    I guess they need to “get rid of” the Carboniferous Period, too.

    Our reality is shrinking.

  44. Carlos says:

    That’s almost as crazy as watching some weeds and plants thriving under elevated GCR’s/Deep Solar Minimum while others wilt.

    You mean, like, tomatoes? Just sayin. I want my global warming back, please.

  45. Leon Brozyna says:

    No, no, no — they’ve got it all wrong. They should have admitted that there were too many unwarranted assumptions made of the effects on sea life as a result of ocean neutralization. They should then have gone on to state that the bottom line is that the organism response to elevated CO2 levels is complex, we don’t have anywhere near the full understanding needed, and we now need to go back and study each organism in detail. That should set them up for a steady stream of grant monies that might otherwise dry up as a result of Climategate.

  46. Carlos says:

    it’s worth remembering that the ocean’s alkalinity was also much higher, as well.

    Link?

  47. Eggsuckindog says:

    I don’t understand either – everything loves it up to 1000ppm, then some see issues but we’re at 380 and need to reduce -[snip]

  48. Krugwaffle says:

    To me there’s two distinct forms of CO2 absorbtion. First, there’s the uptake of CO2 by the water in the ocean itself. It seems from what I’ve read over the past couple of years, this is directly proportional to the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and inversely proportional to the temperature of the water. The colder it gets and the more CO2 available in the atmosphere, the higher the concentration of CO2 in the ocean. This CO2 can come back and haunt us if we find a way to consume the CO2 out of the atmosphere or if the oceans are heated to some point causing the sequestered CO2 to be released.

    The other form of oceanic CO2 absorbtion is when the little sea critters incorporate carbon in the form of calcium carbonate into their skeletons and sequester it into the bottom of the sea when they die. This CO2 is effectively lost and gone forever as it is incorporated into the sludge and finally folded into the crust when time for subduction comes along. We won’t see that again until it comes out of a volcano or a deep ocean vent of some sort.

    What is not clear from the research in the article is whether or not the increased shell building activities causes greater sequesterization or what. The article mentions different crabs and clams but it doesn’t talk about the champions of sequesterization, the diatoms and plankton. Change their shell densities just a few percent and the amount of CO2 that’s being permanantly socked away in the sea floor rises enormously.

    Maybe the question it too complicated to be answered in the laboratory. If increased atmospheric CO2 concentration causes the sea creatures to start growing thicker skeletons, doesn’t that mean more atmospheric CO2 is being removed and permanently sequestered? If we become good little climate change dupes and reduce atmospheric CO2 to zero, won’t we be effective depriving the poor little sea anemonae of the CO2 they need to be horny?

  49. Spenc BC says:

    Off to climate depot!

  50. Steve S. says:

    Those are thin, single year shells.

    They don’t count as sea shell extent.

  51. Greg Cavanagh says:

    The “take-home message, “ says Cohen, is that “we can’t assume that elevated CO2 causes a proportionate decline in calcification of all calcifying organisms.”

    “If this dissolution process continued for sufficient time, then these organisms could lose their shell completely,”

    So, do I not-assume a result; or is it an assumption that if this dissolution process continues for sufficient time the shells will disapear competely.

  52. Michael says:

    This video from Australia needs a lot more attention.

    “November 25, 2009: It has been revealed Kevin Rudd’s Emissions Trading Scheme will send the average family’s bills soaring about $1100. We speak to David Bellamy, a renowned skeptic on man-made climate change”

  53. George Turner says:

    It makes me wonder whether the international Permian emissions standards are what brought about and end to incredibly tasty trilobites, or whether it was the development of a new dipping sauce. I’m tempted to think it was the former, that decreased CO2 levels led to only soft-shelled trilobites which didn’t have a prayer of survival.

    Next up, increased CO2 levels favor the domination of anerobic humans – aka zombies.

  54. ShrNfr says:

    You always knew that this CO2 stuff was a shell game anyway…

  55. Charles Higley says:

    CO2 does not and cannot acidify the oceans. The complex mixture of chemicals in the ocean comprise a complex buffer system that is difficult to overwhelm with a little bit of CO2. CO2 may acidify distilled water, but seawater is a whole other solution.

    CO2 is part of its own equilibrium extending to calcium carbonate and more CO2 actually forces more carbonate to be deposited. Only the addition of an outside source of H+ ions can eat carbonate – those from carbonic acid are part of the equilibrium.

    “Ocean acidification by CO2″ is another part of the global warming myth/scam. As shell formation is done by cells using CO2 or carbonate from the water, more of either will make for more shell. It is no surprise out of Woods Hole here – coral reefs around the world have been growing like crazy for decades due to higher CO2.

    Oh, and warmer water makes calcium carbonate less soluble, so laying down shell and maintaining it is even easier. That’s a little detail the warmists conveniently overlook.

  56. jef says:

    One issue that I remember from graduate school was the “file drawer problem”

    Given the peer pressure (never mind peer-review) to come out with the PC answer, this has got to have an impact…from wikipedia:

    The file drawer effect

    The file drawer effect, or file drawer problem, is that many studies in a given area of research may be conducted but never reported, and those that are not reported may on average report different results from those that are reported. An extreme scenario is that a given null hypothesis of interest is in fact true, i.e. the association being studied does not exist, but the 5% of studies that by chance show a statistically significant result are published, while the remaining 95% where the null hypothesis was not rejected languish in researchers’ file drawers. Even a small number of studies lost “in the file drawer” can result in a significant bias.[5].

    The term was coined by the psychologist Robert Rosenthal in 1979.[6]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File_drawer_problem#The_file_drawer_effect

  57. MikeL says:

    “It’s hard to predict the overall net effect on benthic marine ecosystems, he says. “In the short term, I would guess that the net effect will be negative. In the long term, ecosystems could re-stabilize at a new steady state.

    Wow what a brilliant scientist.. he is “guessing the net effect will be negative”. Why doesn’t he just admit that hasn’t read the Dec. 1 issue of Geology, which states the effect is positive. What an arse!

    “The bottom line is that we really need to bring down CO2 levels in the atmosphere.”

    Ok, I agree with this one, let’s start by canceling all of the CO2 producing modes of transportation, except for mammalian respiration, for the upcoming climate summit in Copenhagen.

  58. Rob M. says:

    “Steve S. (21:12:57) :

    Those are thin, single year shells.

    They don’t count as sea shell extent.”

    and whatismore, these are the eighth smallest shells since records began, last Tuesday.

    Reply: I personally like the inside jokes, but expect some perplexed responses. ~ ctm

  59. Glad they figured this one out.

    Please, no one tell them where the white cliffs of Dover come from or how to Google cretaceous period. Seriously, you could bum them out.

  60. Eric Anderson says:

    syphax (20:42:26)

    Which of the two in the picture (right or left) do you think is larger?

  61. Gene Nemetz says:

    Oh snap! CO2 causes some ocean critters to build more shells

    it causes some people to build more bone$

  62. Gene Nemetz says:

    Rob M. (21:35:59) :

    and whatismore, these are the eighth smallest shells since records began, last Tuesday.

    You’re hiding a decline in shells.

  63. John F. Hultquist says:

    Krugwaffle (21:11:24) You wrote “This CO2 is effectively lost and gone forever as it is incorporated into the sludge and finally folded into the crust when time for subduction comes along. We won’t see that again until it comes out of a volcano or a deep ocean vent of some sort.”

    Pray tell, where from did come all the limestone at the Grand Canyon?
    http://www.bobspixels.com/kaibab.org/geology/gc_geol.htm

  64. John F. Hultquist says:

    Rob and ‘ctm’
    You guys both got a laugh out of me!

  65. Michael Jankowski says:

    The “bottom line” was already determined before the research was done.

  66. Jim Steele says:

    I am not the only that fond the conclusion”“The bottom line is that we really need to bring down CO2 levels in the atmosphere.” came from left field?!

    I think this is another example of the gatekeeper effect” and these authors fear repercussions from the documented “publishing tyrrany” being imposed by the Michael Manns and Phil Jones’.

  67. crosspatch says:

    “no one tell them where the white cliffs of Dover come from”

    Or all that fine Italian marble.

  68. Steve S. says:

    Don’t wander off to check ocean acidification.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/01/31/ocean-acidification-and-corals/

    The ocean currently has a pH of 8.1, which is alkaline not acid.
    In order to become acid, it would have to drop below 7.0.
    Warmers say “Between 1751 and 1994 surface ocean pH is estimated to have decreased from approximately 8.179 to 8.104.”
    At that rate, it will take another 3,500 years for the ocean to become even slightly acid.

    One also has to wonder how they measured the pH of the ocean to 4 decimal places in 1751, since the idea of pH wasn’t introduced until 1909.

    The Global warmers who “refer to it as “the other CO2 problem”, say it could make most regions of the ocean inhospitable to coral reefs by 2050, if atmospheric CO2 levels continue to increase.”

    This does indeed sound alarming, until you consider that corals became common in the oceans during the Ordovician Era – nearly 500 million years ago –
    when atmospheric CO2 levels were about 10X greater than they are today.

    (One might also note that there was an ice age during the late Ordovician and early Silurian with CO2 levels 10X higher than current levels, and the correlation between CO2 and temperature is essentially nil throughout the Phanerozoic.)

  69. chemist says:

    Chalks and corals first evolved when CO2 levels were 20x as high as now. Anyone with a reasonable knowledge of chemistry would know that increasing CO2 levels will increase ocean carbonate levels. Unfortunately you can be an environmental “scientist” or biologist these days without any proper training in physics, chemistry or mathematics.

  70. crosspatch says:

    “One also has to wonder how they measured the pH of the ocean to 4 decimal places in 1751″

    Tree rings.

  71. jorgekafkazar says:

    crosspatch (20:18:23) : “Cap and Trade bill stalled in Australia and the US. Copenhagen possibly in shambles if third world nations walk out.”

    The third world nations will never walk out as long as there’s the least chance they can fasten their greedy, corrupt, insatiable socialist fangs into the jugular of everybody else on the planet.

  72. JJD says:

    The so-called marine researchers quoted in the article, not to speak of the “peer reviewers” of the Geology paper, don’t seem to be aware that the shells of crabs and lobsters are made of chitin, a polysaccharide, not calcium carbonate. As for corals and marine critters with calcium carbonate shells, where would all that carbonate come from? Hmmm, let’s see…. CO2 dissolved in water forms carbonic acid, which in water solution exists as hydrogen ions and carbonate ions. The sea water is not acidic, even with the slight amount of carbonic acid present, because the concentration of hydrogen ions in sea water is still lower than in pure water. One would suspect that a minutely elevated concentration of carbonate ions in mildly basic sea water would be handy, not harmful, for shell-building organisms. If there are any chemists reading this, perhaps they could cast some further light on this.

  73. rbateman says:

    Sometimes the chatter of alarmism reminds me of the strange thinking from the 60′s when people took LSD. While that is not the case today, the catastrophic bent is highly reminiscent. AGW does not call for preparation, only to leap before anyone has a chance to look. Totally illogical.

  74. Alan Wilkinson says:

    “The bottom line is that we really need to bring down CO2 levels in the atmosphere.”

    Evidently the bottom line was totally independent of the experimental results.

  75. LarryOldtimer says:

    We have only enough known “fossil fuels” (petroleum, coal and natural gas) to meet our needs for the next 400 . . . or was it 700 years, so we better all switch to far more costly energy sources right now. Technology will not improve in the next 400 years anymore than it did in the last 400 years , , , Hmmmmmmmm

  76. Bernd Felsche says:

    Forgive this Engineer but what exactly is “inorganic carbon”?

    Or have environmental scientists screwed around with In-/Organic Chemistry definitions as well?

  77. illya says:

    You people should make it known that if any criminal activity can be associated with IPCC in Jones’s investigation it will most probably make governments liable for prosecution.

    I have already started this discussion in my own country, please do so in yours.

    Thx.

  78. phlogiston says:

    I came across an article on it from the palaeos web site (see link below) concerning the Ordovician era. This era just after the Cambrian and its explosion of life has something interesting to say on the issue of CO2 and “ocean acidification”.

    http://www.palaeos.com/Paleozoic/Ordovician/Ordovician.htm

    In AGW narrative ocean acidification represents a “plan B”. We all know CO2 is increasing (leave aside for now whether it’s anthropogenic or not). But if CO2 cant be relied on to warm the atmosphere, then at least it will “acidify” the oceans and dissolve all the beautiful coral. A kind of reserve catastrophe on the subs bench.

    So what does the Ordovician era have to say on this subject?

    (1) During the Ordovician, atmospheric concentration of CO2 was 8-20 times higher than now.

    (2) The Ordovician was a good era for marine lifeforms, including those with calcified parts (which contribute most fossils). “It was also one of the largest adaptive radiations in the Earth’s history.” In particular, it was the era in which corals first evolved.

    (3) Did the oceans acidify due to the high atmospheric CO2 and kill off the coral? Evidently not.

    (4) What kind of catastrophic warming was caused by the high atmospheric CO2? This kind: the era ended with one of the severest ice ages in earth’s history, of the “snowball earth” variety, with glaciers covering what is now the Sahara.

    Christian creationists (who of course dont represent all christians) recognise history only 6000 years back. For AGW proponents, the earth began in 1850. However for the CO2 linked AGW hypothesis to hold water, it needs to be credible in the context of well established palaeohistory of climate. In the Ordovician, the hypothesis fails absolutely.

  79. Douglas Haynes says:

    I have not done the formal mass transfer modelling to back up what follows, but perhaps it deserves consideration with respect to the topic of CO2 and ocean acidification.
    I believe we have ignored several obvious carbon sinks and pH buffers in the ocean; and these are so enormously large that I do not believe that we will ever significantly change the pH of the oceans over the long term, and by long term I mean decadal, even if we greatly increase our CO2 production.
    One of the greatest carbon sinks has to be the near-seafloor peridotite-gabbro layers – where these are sea floor altered (probably ubiquitously so!) – at depths up to a likely maximum of several km beneath the seafloor! If we bump up oceanic bicarbonate (and HCO3 and CO3 are the predominant CO2 species in the oceans), then VERY SIMPLE equilibrium thermo calcs show that we produce more carbonate in the resulting serpentine-carbonate alteration products of the peridotite; and phyllosilicate-albite-carbonate alteration products of the gabbro. The carbonate is then ultimately removed as these rocks on the ocean floor go into the earth’s mantle via subduction! However, the lag time before this buffer kicks in is dependent on the rate of overturn of surface waters via the thermohaline circulation, and I do not have any information on this. Reaction rates in these sea floor systems are geologically fast, particularly just outboard of the mid ocean spreading ridges. A point of interest in relation to this is the recent discovery of a new style of sea floor hot spring system –relatively cool, huge carbonate mounds, and an alkaline pH! As this is a first discovery, I would not be surprised if such springs turn out to be more abundant and much more widespread than the black smokers, which are in the axial rift position of the mid ocean spreading centres. These alkaline springs are outboard of the axial ridge, and are more difficult to “see” because of their lack of clear association with extensional fault sets with large dip slips, for example.
    It is no coincidence in the Archaean, where we know that atmospheric pCO2 was much higher, talc-carbonate and albite-carbonate chlorite altered mafic and ultramafic rocks are very abundant – so even then this chemical process was working to pull atmospheric CO2 into the upper crustal rocks (on or near the Archaean sea floor)! I believe that this mechanism (and then early cyanobacterial photosynthesis) drove the early atmosphere CO2 levels down!
    In short, I believe that CO2 is NEVER going to be a problem ocean-acidifier whilst fresh CO2 sinks, namely gabbro and peridotite, are reaching the earth’s surface in the mid-ocean spreading zones. Note that carbonated gabbro and serpentine-carbonate rocks contain CO2 contents of the order of high 0.N- low N.N wt%. If The key question, however, is the lag time before this carbon sink kicks in to work on the “freshly increased” CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere.
    The carbonate sink reactions noted here also act as pH buffers – equilibrium pH values for assemblages such as serpentine- carbonate- albite would I suspect be on the alkaline side at temperatures less than about 150C– although these would require modelling using the measured aNa, aMg, aCa, aHCO3, aSO4 et cetera as a starter for ocean water systems, which ultimately become rock buffered.
    I write these ideas here, having had considerable experience in mass-transfer modelling in geological systems, and clearly, they require further investigation to help us better answer the CO2-ocean acidification relationships.

  80. Mark Fisher says:

    I think the operative phrase is ” I guess … the negative effect would be negative”. Gee he “guesses”, which is a great scientifc approach, of course the effect would be negative – there is no money in it being positive is there.

    Can we hound these guys over saying “acidification”. If anything it is reduced alkalinity but the oceans will never be acidic. Along with the their “woulds” and “mights” these terms are part of the lexicon of fear

  81. Gareth says:

    Earth has an abundant biosphere because life is adaptable. It goes against common sense to think ocean life could not and would not adapt to changing pH levels.

  82. Peter Plail says:

    It seems to be a modern scientific mantra:

    “We are surprised by the way (fill in your own favourite topic) didn’t behave the way we expected/our models predicted.”

    You would think that after a while they might work out that the topics they are studying might be a bit more complex that they originally thought or – heaven forbid – might not actually be predictable at all due to their chaotic nature.

  83. Carlo says:

    Tom Segelstad

    The distribution of CO2 between atmosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere; minimal influence from anthropogenic CO2 on the global “Greenhouse Effect.

    Stable carbon isotopes (13C/12C) show that CO2 in the atmosphere is in chemical equilibrium with ocean bicarbonate and lithospheric carbonate (Ohmoto, 1986).
    The chemical equilibrium constants for the chemical reactions above provide us with a partition coefficient for CO2 between the atmosphere and the ocean of approximately 1 : 50 (approx. 0.02) at the global mean temperature (Revelle & Suess, 1957; Skirrow, 1975).

    This means that for an atmospheric doubling of CO2, there will have to be supplied 50 times more CO2 to the ocean to obtain chemical equilibrium.

    This total of 51 times the present amount of atmospheric CO2 carbon is more than the known reserves of fossil carbon.

    It is possible to exploit approximately 7000 GT of fossil carbon, which means, if all this carbon is supposed to be burned, that the atmospheric CO2can be increased by 20% at the most under geochemical equilibrium at constant present surface temperature.


    Website Segalstad
    http://folk.uio.no/tomvs/esef/esef0.htm

  84. Carlo says:

    Sorry it is Tom V. Segalstad

  85. David Middleton says:

    “We were surprised that some organisms didn’t behave in the way we expected under elevated CO2″…

    Key points…

    1) Like Global Warming morphed into Climate Change, Ocean Acidification is morphing into Ocean Carbonation or something similar. The oceans simply aren’t acidifying. The oceans are becoming more saturated with Disolved Inorganic Carbon (DIC) – The stuff most shellfish use to make shells.

    2) We now have indisputable evidence that the following things are beneficially affected by elevated CO2:

    a) otoliths (fish ear bones)
    b) coccoliths (phytoplankton)
    c) “crabs, shrimp and lobsters”
    d) “calcifying red and green algae, limpets and temperate urchins”

    Anyone who ever took a carbonate geology class would have already known this; yet all of the above results were unexpected and contrary to the ocean acidification hypotheses that was being tested.

    3) We have clear evidence that the following creatures are not adversely affected by elevated CO2 levels below 1000 to 2800 ppmv:

    a) coral reefs, lobsters and hard clams below 1000 ppmv
    b) “soft clams, conchs, periwinkles, whelks and tropical urchins” below 2800 ppmv.

    4) AGW-inclined scientists are desperately looking for some evidence that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are acidifying the oceans and/or destroying carbonate shell building organisms.

    5) AGW-inclined scientists keep “unexpectedly” finding that carbonate shell building organisms simply used the excess CO2 (in the form of DIC) to build more limestone.

  86. Hell_Is_Like_Newark says:

    The NY Times a couple years back had an article on how the original experiments were done on CO2 killing corals, etc. The researchers dumped carbonic acid directly into the tank.

    When the test was redone by bubble in CO2, they got a very different result: (I don’t remember the details, so I am doing my best to summarize from memory) Algae in the tank became healthier, creating bi-products that helped the calcium secreting creatures to become healthier as well.

    I no longer have a link to the article and have to bug out for work. Anyone here know of or can search for the article?

  87. Geckko says:

    Did that article actually say “inorganic carbon”????? Did the “scientific” paper say “inorganic carbon”.

    Bizarro at more than one level.

    For example, are we going to have to start a new field of chemistry; “inorganic” organic chemistry?????????

  88. Krugwaffle says:

    It’s funny how just about every post above points out just how little we really know about the vast oceans or how much we know and how much is yet unknown. But according to the twisted geniuses in Copenhagen, we’ve got to stop atmospheric CO2 concentration at 365ppm or it’s the end of the world as we know it!

  89. Ian B says:

    I did a back of an envelope calculation about ocean acidification and the possible human contribution yesterday (linked to something on another blog, and based on Wikipedia numbers).

    Two assumptions:
    1) CO2 increases are relatively evenly distributed through the mass of the ocean
    2) All the ‘missing’ CO2 between emissions and atmospheric increases is being taken up by the oceans (and not by biomass either as oceanic plankton or terrestrial plant life).

    The first is incorrect to some extent as shallow ocean basins will change more rapidly than deep water, implying the pH change will be greater
    Second is incorrect and excessively conservative, but relative proportions are not well known.

    However, to use round numbers –
    Mass of the atmosphere – 5 x 10^18kg
    Increase in atmospheric CO2 attributed to anthropogenic causes ~100ppm
    Therefore mass of anthropogenic CO2 to atmosphere = 5 x 10^14kg

    ‘Missing’ CO2, by comparison with human emissions data about 50% of emitted CO2.

    Therefore anthropogenic CO2 to ocean = 5 x 10^14kg

    Mass of oceans 1.35 x 10^21kg.

    So mass of the ocean reservoir is about 2 x 10^6 greater than the maximum possible CO2 addition from human sources, or (to reverse the consideration)anthropogenic CO2 can cause approximately 0.5ppm change in the carbonic acid concentration of the ocean.

    I haven’t followed this through to the possible change in pH, but I can’t see this having any measurable effect on the value of 1/log[H+] .

    Where have I gone wrong, or do the people at Woods Hole and elsewhere really have so little understanding of Earth Sciences?

  90. Charles Higley says:

    Another item missed by most is that all marine organisms have spent most of their existence at CO2 levels many times higher than now. We are at a time when CO2 is perilously low – plants cannot operate below 200 ppm and a clown scientist produced a falacious historical level of 280 ppm by cherry-picking the data – that would be Callendar. The real 19th century average was around 330 ppm, making our current increase a lot smaller in proportion.

  91. Atomic Hairdryer says:

    So it’s worse than we thought. We may be facing an invasion of more heavily armoured King Crab and Lobster. This will lead to increased danger for crab fisherman, increased cost (shell:meat ratio) and greater risk of accidents in sea food restaurants whilst opening them.

    But nice to see more critters joining the CO2 loving & albedo changing E.Huxleyi.

  92. ScientistForTruth says:

    “Carbon dioxide is known to trigger a process that reduces the abundance of carbonate ions in seawater—one of the primary materials that marine organisms use to build their calcium carbonate shells and skeletons.”

    That is astonishing ignorance. Carbon dioxide doesn’t “trigger a process” – it is nicely behaved equilibrium chemistry. And if these scientists think that calcifying organisms all combine calcium ions with carbonate ions to produce calcium carbonate, they must be very ignorant of the literature, and the studies that have been performed on the calcification process. Calcifiers don’t use carbonate to build shells but bicarbonate. Calcium ions combine with two bicarbonate ions (in a biological ‘pump’) to produce calcium carbonate, water and CO2.

    Ca^2+ + 2HCO3^- CaCO3 + CO2 + H2O

    No carbonate ions in that reaction.

    Thus Kleypas et al (2006):

    “…HCO3^- [bicarbonate] is the preferred substrate for coral photosynthesis (Al-Moghrabi et al., 1996; Goiran et al., 1996; Allemand et al., 1998), coral calcification uses both HCO3^- [bicarbonate] from seawater and metabolic CO2 as sources of carbon (Erez, 1978; Furla et al., 2000)…Biochemical studies fail to provide any evidence that CO3^2- [carbonate] plays a direct role in coral calcification…Results from several studies indicate that the substrate for calcification in E. huxleyi is HCO3^- [bicarbonate] (cf., Paasche, 2001), which increases under elevated pCO2 conditions…”

    “Most models assume that the calcifying fluid is isolated from external seawater. This is supported by microelectrode observations that show that the pH of the calcifying space is elevated relative to external waters (as high as 9.3) (Al-Horani et al., 2003) and by the well-known fractionation of oxygen and carbon isotopes in the calcifying fluid.”

    As more CO2 dissolves, the concentration of bicarbonate increases, even if carbonate decreases slightly. Increasing dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) provides a higher concentration of bicarbonate for biological pumps to work with. Lots of organisms benefit from increased DIC – including coral. And lots of studies confirm this.

    Check out more on this here:

    http://buythetruth.wordpress.com/2009/03/19/toxic-seawater-fraud/

  93. femidav says:

    @ JJD (23:04:53): “The so-called marine researchers quoted in the article, not to speak of the “peer reviewers” of the Geology paper, don’t seem to be aware that the shells of crabs and lobsters are made of chitin, a polysaccharide, not calcium carbonate.”

    In its unmodified form, chitin is translucent, pliable, resilient and quite tough. In arthropods, however, it is often modified, becoming embedded in a hardened proteinaceous matrix, which forms much of the exoskeleton. In its pure form it is leathery, but when encrusted in calcium carbonate it becomes much harder.

  94. Ron de Haan says:

    Mike (20:13:48) :

    Everything you need to know about ocean acidification:

    http://www.seafriends.org.nz/issues/global/acid.htm
    http://www.seafriends.org.nz/issues/global/acid2.htm
    http://www.seafriends.org.nz/issues/global/acid3.htm

    Mike, I think you have to scrap this links because the information is BS.

  95. Tamara says:

    A bit self-serving, but I feel I must say “I told you so!”

    Maybe in a few months we can get them to stop using the misleading “ocean acidification”. It is “ocean neutralization” at best.

  96. Beth Cooper says:

    Professor Plimer says that rain +clay =acid consuming process and that acid seas are impossible while plate techtonics take place and we don’t run out of rocks.

  97. Wade says:

    “The oceans absorb much of the CO2 that we release to the atmosphere,” Ries says. However, he warns that this natural buffer may ultimately come at a great cost.

    “It’s hard to predict the overall net effect on benthic marine ecosystems, he says. “In the short term, I would guess that the net effect will be negative. In the long term, ecosystems could re-stabilize at a new steady state.

    “The bottom line is that we really need to bring down CO2 levels in the atmosphere.”

    Translation: This study is not profitable. Therefore, to keep grants coming, we shall put this last block in that says it is worse than we thought just so the Global Warming money machine still favors us despite this unfavorable study.

  98. WakeUpMaggy says:

    I like to think of all that carbonate folded deep under the crust and melted into the iron in the earth’s core. FeO, CaCO3, just add water and cook.
    Don’t ban me, I didn’t say it!

  99. Smokey says:

    A new IBD editorial: click

  100. imapopulist says:

    Woods Hole can kiss their access to grant funding goodbye now that they published a report that implies CO2 is not that bad.

  101. Luboš Motl says:

    Well, they may be defending themselves against the more acidic environments, and thus spending more energy on building the shells.

    The right shell looks “healthier” than the left one in the same way as white teeth look healthier than yellow teeth. ;-)

  102. Deadman says:

    Talking of oceans, may I commend Prof. Nir Shaviv’s The Oceans as a Calorimeter ?

  103. syphax says:

    Reference to alkalinity: Paul N. Pearson & Martin R. Palmer. “Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations over the past 60 million years”, Nature, 406 | 17 AUGUST 2000. I found the pdf somewhere online, but can’t find it now.

    Geckko- it’s standard parlance to talk about organic carbon & inorganic carbon. Here’s a quick overview via Wikipedia that captures the essence: “Traditionally, inorganic compounds are considered to be of a mineral, not biological, origin. Complementarily [sic], most organic compounds are traditionally viewed as being of biological origin.” So, CO2, HCO3-, CO3 (2-) are inorganic; CH4, carbohydrates, etc. are organic.

    It’s true that the ocean is basic, and that over loooong time periods, it has an enormous capacity to buffer acids. That’s why pH has been quite stable over the past 20M years or so. What’s potentially problematic is a sudden perturbation in pH this century. While skepticism of alarmist claims is certainly warranted, I don’t know why people are so sanguine about this. Optimism abounds.

    I know its standard procedure to criticize scientists around here, but the folks at WHOI generally know their stuff. I spent time researching there a few years ago, and was pretty blown away by the culture of rigor. Those people are really passionate about their science, in a good way.

    Final comment: It’s best to remember that press releases generally are written by PR people. Minor inaccuracies and logical inconsistencies abound in such things. It’s unfortunate. But before judging and ripping into the research, it’s best to actually read the paper.

  104. ScientistForTruth says:

    WakeUpMaggy (05:36:06) :

    “I like to think of all that carbonate folded deep under the crust and melted into the iron in the earth’s core. FeO, CaCO3, just add water and cook.
    Don’t ban me, I didn’t say it!”

    Not sure whether all the readers will know what this cooks up. It yields methane. It’s a possible pathway for abiogenic production of “fossil fuels”. Organic compounds from inorganic ingredients.

  105. JonesII says:

    Wow!, we didn´t know shells were made of calcium carbonate (out from CO2)!.
    That´s is really new!!!

  106. John says:

    I guess they’ll have to “get rid of” the Ordovician Period, too. That will mean revisionists telling us that the carbon dioxide levels during the Carboniferous and Ordovician and other periods with more carbon dioxide didn’t really have more carbon dioxide.

  107. ozspeaksup says:

    Book, interesting.
    jean Louis Kervrand
    Biological Transmutations.
    Do not use the big book seller its over 100, Not plugging, but acresaustralia has it and usa may have , again?
    how do chickens make calcium for shells, and NO they do NOT take from their bones, or blood, and CAN make eggs when in an entirely lime free environment, with access to…Silica.He also has comments re crustacea.
    we know Naff all about our own bodies, and people who have no idea about themselves and how they work..can assert they think Gore et al are 100% believable. (of course,) and theres a LOT of them, and more created every day at school.
    I am glad I saw Silent Spring, and Not Al Gore as a child.
    What we absorb as children Does influence us. This charade IS doing incalculable harm. Maybe all you who are parents should be calling schools to register disapproval of ANY warming being taught.
    A small but rather pointed and necessary act!
    I have sent this wuwt page to the ABC National in aus:-)
    I wonder if? they dare to read the mail out:-)
    Bush Telegraph had our supposed? oceanic science crew, waffling about acidification today.
    there IS an issue with Farm chem and silt run off, but NOT CO2

  108. yonason says:

    Oceans (or anything for that matter) can’t become “more” acidic until they first become acidic. Right now the oceans are alkaline, with a fairly wide pH range being “normal.”
    http://www.cambridge.org/resources/0521538432/1488_218437.pdf

    E.g., look at the pH measurements here to see the wide variability AND the lack of any long term trend.
    http://sanctuarymonitoring.org/regional_docs/monitoring_projects/100240_167.pdf
    It started at 7.8 in 1996, and now it’s all the way down to 7.9, with a range of from 7.7 to 8.1, which is in complete agreement with the Cambridge reference, above.

  109. Carl Gullans says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, as I’m not very familiar with them, but aren’t certain corals and mollusks used in proxy reconstructions? Do they use shell thickness as a proxy, or something else? If the former, that is now also questionable practice.

  110. yonason says:

    Tamara (05:09:12) :

    While correct, it’s not scary enough, therefore It’ll never happen.

  111. yonason says:

    ScientistForTruth (04:33:03) :

    “As more CO2 dissolves, the concentration of bicarbonate increases, even if carbonate decreases slightly.”

    as pH increases, both bicarbonate and carbonate increase, as seen here.
    http://www.cambridge.org/resources/0521538432/1488_218437.pdf

    But carbonate increases more, simply because it wasn’t that relatively plentiful to begin with (10% to 25% in seawater), while bicarbonate is always near saturation at above 95%.

  112. John Galt says:

    Wow, so life adapts to changes conditions! Who wooda thunk it? I dunno, maybe Darwin?

    How is it so many people get suckered into the belief that the world is static? Ask any AGW if they think evolution is a fact. If those that agree, ask them why the think life won’t adapt to changing conditions any why they think the climate would be stable without human influence.

    I don’t want to get into a discussion of creationism versus evolution here. I’m pointing out a logic inconsistency in the reasoning of most Warministas. Science shows us the world today is different from the world of the past. Life has existed for about 500 million years on this planet and has adapted to the changing conditions.

    I also want to point out a major problem with most climate scientists — they seem ignorant of the influence of the biosphere on the climate. Climate not only affects life but life also influences climate.

  113. boballab says:

    This just in the Head of NOAA just stated to the House Select Committee that any animal that has a shell will struggle if CO2 increases.

    I guess she didn’t get the memo.

  114. boballab says:

    OMG the head of NOAA does a little chemistry experiment in front of the committee and she uses a pitcher of Tap water to simulate the Ocean then uses 2 huge chunks of Dry Ice to show how the ocean will turn acidic.

  115. Geosota says:

    Give these guys a break. Sure the “bottom line” is a non-sequitur, but they absolutely had to put it on there to avoid being black-listed. The old H2O + CO2 = H2CO3 reaction certainly creates acid. What this research shows is that not only dissolved CO2 promotes ocean plant growth, which eventually is entombed in sedimentary rock, but so does the reacted form by the animal kingdom. This is seditious, deviant and heretical. Their “bottom line” is no different from Galileo’s statement “I abjure, curse and detest my errors” before the Inquisition. Fortunately, scientists are no longer being burned at the stake, but their journals can be delisted from peer-review, editors fired and scientists themselves defunded if they do not preach the gospel of global warming. Frankly, I would rather see them survive even if they have to genuflect.

  116. yonason says:

    Douglas Haynes (01:55:27) :

    “I believe we have ignored several obvious carbon sinks and pH buffers in the ocean;”

    Don’t forget “sources,” like these
    http://www.noaa.gov/features/monitoring_0209/vents.html
    http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/education/yos/multimedia/oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/explorations/06fire/background/chemistry/media/eifuku_champagnebubbles.html

    Nearby, the signs of “devastation” abound.
    http://www.vulkaner.no/v/volcan/submarin/pics/corals_600.jpg
    “At NW Eifuku volcano, mussels are so dense in some places that they obscure the bottom.”
    from here.
    http://www.vulkaner.no/v/volcan/submarin/mariana-arc.html

    Also, note that the deeper one goes in the ocean, the lower the pH gets, naturally. See figures here.
    http://www.aslo.org/lo/toc/vol_13/issue_4/0688.pdf

  117. boballab says:

    For her next trick she puts chalk into one container of tap water and gets no reaction, then she does a 50/50 mix of water/vingear to show a slight reaction then drops some into pure vinegar to get the big reaction.

    Her only stipulation is that the OCean will never be acidic as pure vingear, but never correlates what level of PH the 50/50 mix is nor what the normal PH of Ocean water or even TAP water.

  118. yonason says:

    Geosota (08:03:31) :

    They need to put food on the table for their families. And, if their data is good, and they don’t fudge numbers, I can’t say I blame them for wanting to survive.

  119. WakeUpMaggy says:

    boballab (08:06:37) :

    For her next trick she puts….

    Oh Gaia no, next she makes the old papier mache volcano go off on a desktop?

  120. yonason says:

    boballab (08:06:37)

    Don’t tell me, before she was head of NOAA she sold water purification systems door to door?

  121. Chris H says:

    Geosota

    You need to complete the equation:
    CO2 + H2O = H2CO3 = H+ + HCO3-

    (Sorry for the absence of proper symbols “=” indicates a reversible reaction)

    This is the Henderson-Hasselbach equation well known to respiratory physiologists like me and the basis of cellular pH control. If something buffers the H+ (proteins, phosphates etc) the HCO3- is free to combine with Ca++ ions to form calcium carbonate. Sea water contains plenty of buffers so increasing CO2 equates with additional calcium carbonate production by the “little critters”. This is why the corals formed when the atmospheric CO2 content was three times today’s level.

  122. Bill P says:

    Speaking of building more stately mansions…

    Floridians are contesting state-manufactured beaches contiguous to theirs. In the most convoluted reasoning I’ve yet heard from people living on the edge of natural disaster, property owners are claiming it’s unfair of the state to pump up their beach area with sand because this allows beachcombers on the newly-created “state” oceanfront, and hence constitutes an unfair “taking” of their “private beach-front property”. Seems the ocean, aided by nasty weather, has been encroaching on their houses for some time, and the waves are now lapping at their back doors. The State of Florida, backed by State Courts deems this an endangerment of property values and in taking action to save their arses, has become the villain. It will be heard by the Supreme Court today.

    We’ve all heard of these cases before. The newest spin is this constitutes a court-backed “taking” of private property. And it’s all due to global warming.

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nation-and-world/la-na-beaches2-2009dec02,0,344997.story

  123. erica says:

    I used to think scientists were intelligent. All I can say now is,[snip]

    Here’s one for you. It turns out, studies show that child car seats don’t really improve safety for children over 6. The bottom line is all children should be in child seats.

    Or how about this. People who save 10% of their income are much less likely to face financial distress. The bottom line is, the government needs to provide more welfare programs.

    It is as if these people have no training whatsoever. Do they have a union?

  124. David Middleton says:

    syphax (06:09:16) :

    [...]

    It’s true that the ocean is basic, and that over loooong time periods, it has an enormous capacity to buffer acids. That’s why pH has been quite stable over the past 20M years or so. What’s potentially problematic is a sudden perturbation in pH this century. While skepticism of alarmist claims is certainly warranted, I don’t know why people are so sanguine about this. Optimism abounds.

    I know its standard procedure to criticize scientists around here, but the folks at WHOI generally know their stuff. I spent time researching there a few years ago, and was pretty blown away by the culture of rigor. Those people are really passionate about their science, in a good way.

    [...]

    Many of us “around here” are scientists. Unlike the advocates of ocean acidification, most scientists would start questioning their hypothesis when the obeservations and experiments continue to falsify it.

    Pelejero et al., 2005 found no clear trend of decliing oceanic pH over the last 200+ years. They did find a natural, ~50-yr, pH cycle that oscillates between ~7.8 and ~8.3…

    Although the lowest 11B value for the entire record corresponds to the 5-year average around 1988 [23.0 per mil ( ), 7.91 pH units; Fig. 2A and table S1], there is no notable trend toward lower 11B values. The dominant feature of the coral 11B record is a clear interdecadal oscillation of pH, with 11B values ranging between 23 and 25 (7.9 and 8.2 pH units; Fig. 2A). Spectral analysis of the coral pH record demonstrates a substantial cyclicity of about 50 years (Fig. 2A and fig. S2). Moreover, the variation in pH is synchronous with the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO) (27), the Pacific-wide equivalent of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO).

    Iglesias-Rodriguez et al., 2008 found that the CaCO3 mass of coccoliths increased when exposed to an increase of atmospheric CO2 from 275 to 385 ppmv…

    Average mass of CaCO3 per coccolith in core RAPID 21-12-B and atmospheric CO2. The average mass of CaCO3 per coccolith in core RAPID 21-12-B (open circles) increased from 1.08 x 10–11 to 1.55 x 10–11 g between 1780 and the modern day, with an accelerated increase over recent decades. The increase in average pre=”average “>coccolith mass correlates with rising atmospheric PCO2, as recorded in the Siple ice core (gray circles) (26) and instrumentally at Mauna Loa (black circles) (38), every 10th and 5th data point shown, respectively. Error bars represent 1 SD as calculated from replicate analyses. Samples with a standard deviation greater than 0.05 were discarded. The smoothed curve for the average coccolith mass was calculated using a 20% locally weighted least-squares error method.

    Checkley et al., 2009 found that a sudden increase of atmospheric CO2 under laboratory conditions caused “otoliths (aragonite ear bones) of young fish grown under high CO2 (low pH) conditions are larger than normal, contrary to expectation.”

    Just like anthropogenic global warming – Ocean acidification relies entirely on models that are contradicted by observation. Real scientists discard or modify a hypothesis when the observations and experiments falsify it. Junk scientists discard and modify the inconvenient data to make if fit the preferred hypothesis.

  125. Geosota says:

    Chris H –

    You are correct. I was just a tad lazy there. Thanks.

    George

  126. syphax says:

    I’ve read the paper. Pretty interesting. Like almost all papers, it’s incremental- it hardly gives an “all clear” sign re: ocean pH changes, but it identifies some interesting questions about why some species benefit, others do not, and others exhibit threshold (i.e. OK until very high pCO2) or variable (increased growth at moderate pCO2, declines at high pCO2) reactions.

    If most species were quite indifferent to pCO2, that would be one thing. The diversity of the reactions means we are perturbing ecosystems. To what extent, I don’t think we know yet.

    And don’t worry, the authors have their grant $ covered- “We have only begun to generate the data needed to assess CO 2-driven impacts on organisms and ecosystems in the geologic past, and to anticipate the effects of anthropogenic ocean acidification in the decades and centuries ahead.” Frankly, I think that’s a fair statement.

  127. Bob says:

    “D. King (20:54:53) :

    John (20:20:52) :

    I guess they need to “get rid of” the Carboniferous Period, too.

    Our reality is shrinking.”

    Just a clarification for John and D. King:
    The Carboniferous was a rather warm period, which correlates with high atmospheric CO2, so I doubt anyone looking for a positive relationship would want ignore it. The medieval warm period was warm when CO2 was relatively low, that is why it the researchers from East Anglia mentioned it specifically. Obviously CO2 isn’t the only control on global climate, but it is also obvious that climate does change, and it changes substantially.

    I still think that climate science is an important field of inquiry, albeit probably not as urgent as some would like you to believe. But hey, a climate scientist has to try and sell the importance of their job just like everyone else. I suspect most of the people commenting on this site have some job that they have to convince people to support, whether it is the public, their boss, their customers or a national funding agency. Let’s say you are a lawyer, you have to convince people that your services are necessary. While mankind survived for centuries without lawyers, any good law student will tell you that without the rule of law human society cannot exist, ergo we need lawyers. Would a world without lawyers really be that bad? Can we blame the lawyer for making his case though, and can we blame him for taking advantage of his opportunities when his clients are willing to pay?

    Bottom line with all the economics and politics aside, climate science research is just as important a field to support as any other scientific field. It should be done objectively and the results should be interpreted by experts, not bandied about on websites by armchair PhDs who then go to their job pumping gas or selling footwear. Honestly, unless you are willing to go and read the actual published paper, then you have no idea how to interpret the few findings mentioned here. For instance, can anyone posting here tell me what happened to the other 11 species examined when exposed to elevated CO2?

    “Ries found that seven of the 18 shelled species they observed actually built more shell when exposed to varying levels of increased acidification.”

    Ultimately, this press release is poorly written and if the quotes are taken out of context then the writer should seriously consider another career path.

  128. polistra says:

    “More research is needed” is a standard closing line for nearly all research in all fields of science. It means “Give me more grant money.”

    I’m always annoyed when the media report this statement as if it’s meaningful. You might as well report that “Paul Harvey claims today is a good day.”

    Aside from that, ocean acidification is the only REAL problem caused by increased CO2, so it’s worth paying close attention to facts on this, not dismissing it out of hand.

  129. ScientistForTruth says:

    yonason (07:30:03) :

    “As more CO2 dissolves, the concentration of bicarbonate increases, even if carbonate decreases slightly.”

    as pH increases, both bicarbonate and carbonate increase, as seen here.
    http://www.cambridge.org/resources/0521538432/1488_218437.pdf

    Yes, but pH DECREASES with increasing DIC. Increasing H+ ions converts to lower pH. What’s more, the relative concentration of H+ ions increases faster than the relative concentration of DIC, so it is possible for absolute concentration of carbonate to fall even as absolute concentration of DIC increases – theoretically (though in seawater, nothing’s that simple).

  130. syphax says:

    David Middleton:

    Geez, why the hostility?

    A couple notes on your references:

    The first sentence of the abstract of Pelejero et al., 2005 is “The oceans are becoming more acidic due to absorption of anthropogenic carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.” Their study examined pH cycles at a reef site, where it seems local processes dominate the local pH. Good stuff, but not particularly relevant to global ocean pH trends. I introduce for your consideration the short time series from Wootten et. al. 2008- http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.0810079105 . I’m sure you’ll hate the modeling part, but the data is the data.

    The basic hypothesis involved here is: CO2 + H2O => H2CO3 => H+ + H2CO3-. Pretty basic stuff. The buffering chemistry is also well, known, including the kinetics. No computer models are required to support the basic hypothesis that higher atmospheric pCO2 will change ocean chemistry.

    What’s less well known are the impacts of these changes on ocean organisms, and the ability of biological systems to regulate local carbonate chemistry. My favorite paper on this subject is the Wilson et al. ( http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/sci;323/5912/359 ) fish poop paper.

    In summary, in my judgment, the hypothesis that increased atmospheric CO2 provides a forcing for decreased ocean pH is supported by theory and data. A hypothesis that the impacts will be uniformly negative is not supported, at least if you’re a lobster. The hypothesis that the net impacts will be largely negative cannot yet be evaluated. Showing that fish grow bigger ear bones or lobsters grow faster under higher pCO2 or that fish poop (yes, I know it’s not really poop) carbonate is good information, but hardly sufficient data to give the “all clear, business as usual” sign.

  131. Kevin says:

    They have to stick that last comment in there or they risk losing their funding from NSF

  132. David Middleton says:

    @ syphax (09:10:27) :

    Wooten’s 8-year survey was for one site, Tatoosh Island. It showed a couple of years of slightly declining pH, a couple of a gap and then and a couple of years of rising pH.

    Neither Wooten nor Pelejero found any evidence of a secular acidifying trend. Nor has anyone else.

  133. Craig Goodrich says:

    In what precise environment was this observation done? In general, the ocean buffers its CO2 content quite effectively by precipitating out the excess as calcium carbonate — since the ocean is loaded with calcium ions.

    Likewise increased CO2 means increased plankton to consume it. Was this in some kind of artificial medium?

  134. yonason says:

    ScientistForTruth (09:06:47)

    Reading “approx % of total DIC) from the graph in the link I gave, in the relevant pH range from about 7.2 to 8.2, any decrease in pH yields a much greater relative decrease in carbonate than in bicarbonate conc. Since in all cases it appears to be greater than 2 fold, that relation should also hold for the absolute concs., in that range. It’s just an empirical observation.

    For the theory these might be fun to go over later
    http://www-naweb.iaea.org/napc/ih/document/global_cycle/vol%20I/cht_i_09.pdf
    http://comp.uark.edu/~ksteele/gochemfiles/SteeleCarbonatePC-762.htm

    Anyway, as you say, with seawater it’s much more complex, which is why it’s still open to research.

  135. yonason says:

    David Middleton (09:30:55) :

    Yes.

    Analogous to “hide the decline,” those who assert “acidification” report ocean pH as a specific # rather than a very wide range. When their claims for “change” in the “average pH” are examined in light of the normal range of ocean pH, their deception becomes laughably transparent.

    Ocean pH changes from location to location around the world, from season to season, and from year to year.

    Just as there is no “average temperature” for the earth, there is no “average pH” for the sea.

  136. Geosota says:

    The most important aspect of this research is connecting lobsters to global warming. Whoever wins the race to fund this study, contact me gbrown at alum.mit.edu! I will bring my own bib. I even volunteer to cook the data! This could even top the cancer research on grilled steaks when I was an undergrad. (By any chance, is global warming responsible for melted butter?)

  137. angrytheo says:

    I’m sorry that many of you have minds too feeble to understand a scientist’s logic as encapsulated in the “bottom line” of this article. What this study shows is that increased CO2 causes drastic change in the shells of sea organisms, either increasing or decreasing shell creation. That means that increasing atmospheric CO2 disrupts the balance of life in the oceans. This is obvious from the article. The bottom line is that we should be INCREDIBLY CAUTIOUS about disrupting balances in nature that have taken hundreds of millions of years to establish, because we do not understand and cannot predict the results.

    This is the message of science to modern man. I cannot fathom how so many of you can misunderstand.

  138. yonason says:

    angrytheo (10:40:39) :

    “What this study shows is that increased CO2 causes drastic change in the shells of sea organisms”,

    should be

    “What this study shows is that increased CO2 [under laboratory controlled conditions] causes drastic change in the shells of sea organisms [in the laboratory]“

    I haven’t seen the conditions they used, so I don’t know if the water was sea water or if any non-natural buffers or other chemicals were used. But, even if they weren’t, it’s still not what goes on in the ocean.

    “That means that increasing atmospheric CO2 disrupts the balance of life in the oceans.”

    No. What it means is that increasing CO2 in laboratory aquarium tanks alters the metabolism of the few organisms under study in those conditions. It may, or may not, mean that some or all life in the oceans might respond similarly. My guess is that what we learn from this is how to maintain those organisms in aquaria.

    In the real world “laboratory” life thrives in conditions that would kill them in the lab
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1177886/Creatures-living-violent-undersea-volcano-climate-change-survival-clue.html

    See also the links I provided above on massive undersea volcanic CO2 and the organisms thriving in the waters nearby.

  139. Dave Wendt says:

    syphax (08:36:23) :
    I’ve read the paper. Pretty interesting. Like almost all papers, it’s incremental- it hardly gives an “all clear” sign re: ocean pH changes,

    Could you provide a link to where the paper is accessible, the Geology site still shows the November edition as the current one
    http://geology.gsapubs.org/

    Re the Wooten paper, when I read it last year I was struck by this figure
    http://www.pnas.org/content/105/48/18848/F1.large.jpg
    which shows the range of observed PH in the measurements they collected.
    What it suggested to me was that, if oceanic life was as vulnerable to minor changes in PH level as has been posited, the oceans would have been as barren as the Antarctic ice cap long ago, since it seems to be exposed to PH variations of .24 daily, >1 annually, and 1.5 over 8yrs.

  140. syphax says:

    @ David Middleton:

    And the game of dueling datasets continues…

    Neither Wooten nor Pelejero found any evidence of a secular acidifying trend. Nor has anyone else.

    Please discuss:

    http://hahana.soest.hawaii.edu/hot/products/HOT_surface_CO2.txt

    Of course, we’ll need to talk about the difficulty of accurately measuring pH in-situ: http://andrew.ucsd.edu/co2qc/handbook.html

  141. David Middleton says:

    Average annual pH reconstructions and measurements from various Pacific Ocean locations:

    60 million to 40 million years ago: 7.42 to 8.04 (Pearson et al., 2000)
    23 million to 85,000 years ago: 8.04 to 8.31 (Pearson et al., 2000)
    6,000 years ago to present: 7.91 to 8.28 (Liu et al., 2009)
    1708 AD to 1988 AD: 7.91 to 8.17 (Pelejero et al., 2005)
    2000 AD to 2007 AD: 8.10 to 8.40 (Wootton et al., 2008)

    The low pH levels from 60 mya to 40 mya include the infamous Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM); a period in which large scale subaerial and submarine flood basalt eruptions probably dislodged a massive volume of methane hydrates into the Atlantic Ocean, causing a shoaling of the lysocline (AKA ocean acidification). Even then, the oceans did not actually “acidify;” the lowest pH was 7.42 (still basic). PETM CO2 levels have been estimated to have been 1000 to 3000 ppmv from pedogenic carbonates… But fossil plant stomata suggest that CO2 levels in North America were not much different than today (300 to 400 ppmv).

  142. syphax says:

    @ David Middleton:

    Here’s a paper based on that dataset (and more):

    Dore et al., Physical and biogeochemical modulation of ocean acidification in the central North Pacific

    http://www.pnas.org/content/106/30/12235.full

    Yes, it’s only for a single station in the Pacific. I recognize the limitations of that. But it contradicts your claim.

  143. David Middleton says:

    syphax (11:46:27) :

    @ David Middleton:

    Here’s a paper based on that dataset (and more):

    Dore et al., Physical and biogeochemical modulation of ocean acidification in the central North Pacific

    http://www.pnas.org/content/106/30/12235.full

    Yes, it’s only for a single station in the Pacific. I recognize the limitations of that. But it contradicts your claim.

    It doesn’t contradict anything. Caldeira and others have asserted that oceanic pH has declined in a secular manner by ~0.1 unit since pre-industrial times. Dore et al. show that from 1989-2007 pH varied between 8.05 to 8.15 (0-30 m) and between 7.96 to 8.15 (235-265 m). If the asserted secular decline is 0.1, then all of that decline happened in an 8 year period (beyond highly improbable).

    A pH range of 7.96 to 8.15 falls well within the natural variablity (7.91 to 8.28) of the last 6,000 years. Go read the Wootten paper again. They found a diurnal pH variability of 0.24 units. Pelejero found a 50-yr cycle that varied by 0.3 pH units. 8-year trends that don’t exceed the range of natural variability aren’t secular trends; they are cyclical components.

  144. Tim Clark says:

    angrytheo (10:40:39) :
    I’m sorry that many of you have minds too feeble to understand a scientist’s logic as encapsulated in the “bottom line” of this article. What this study shows is that increased CO2 causes drastic change in the shells of sea organisms, either increasing or decreasing shell creation. That means that increasing atmospheric CO2 disrupts the balance of life in the oceans. This is obvious from the article. The bottom line is that we should be INCREDIBLY CAUTIOUS about disrupting balances in nature that have taken hundreds of millions of years to establish, because we do not understand and cannot predict the results.

    If you live in a house with a driveway and sidewalk, you have caused drastic change, disrupted the balance, and even destroyed up to ~4000 sq ft of the natural habitat for chiggers, earthworms, gnats, mosquitoes, cinch bugs, beetle grubs, and thousands of fungal and bacterial specie, etc that have taken millions of years to become established. You hypocrite, to live without affecting the environment you should move out and live, um uh , gee, well maybe the moon.

    “What was really interesting was that some of the creatures, the coral, the hard clam and the lobster, for example, didn’t seem to care about CO2 until it was higher than about 1,000 parts per million [ppm].” Current atmospheric CO2 levels are about 380 ppm, she said. Above this level, calcification was reduced in the coral and the hard clam, but elevated in the lobster.

    This makes no sense. When are coral affected?

    And the article jumps from 1000ppm to 2800ppm and doesn’t distinguish what concentration applies to which results.

  145. mbabbitt says:

    If only these people could hear what they are saying.

  146. mbabbitt says:

    One more thing. When listening to the alarmists — such as in the commentaries above — notice the condescension, the religious style clinging to belief, and the desperate fear that nature is so delicate, so fragile that any misstep by us could lead, at any moment, to the end of the world. Their global warming science they claim to be robust enough to have confidence in but not the earth system which will still be quite alive long after their nightmares die. This is hysteria, plain and simple.

  147. David Middleton says:

    @ Dave Wendt (11:28:11) :

    I think I found the problem with the Wootton paper…

    University of Chicago scientists have documented that the ocean is growing more acidic faster than previously thought. In addition, they have found that the increasing acidity correlates with increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, according to a paper published online by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Nov. 24.

    “Of the variables the study examined that are linked to changes in ocean acidity, only atmospheric carbon dioxide exhibited a corresponding steady change,” said J. Timothy Wootton, the lead author of the study and Professor of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago.

    LINK

    Dr. Wooton is a “Professor of Ecology and Evolution.” He’s a biologist… PhD in zoology… No background in geochemistry or marine geology. That explains the total lack of perspective.

  148. syphax says:

    @ David Middleton:

    Wait- you asserted that no one had demonstrated a secular trend. You made no explicit qualifications. I assert that Dore reports a statistically significant secular trend over ~20 years. How does that not contradict your claim? I do tire of the “my references are infallible; yours are wrong” game.

    Dore’s reported trend at the surface is -0.0014 +/- 0.0002 per year (measured pH). That’s -0.014 per decade, or, extended out a century (obviously not a valid thing to do), -0.14. So, on the face of it, it’s reasonably consistent with other assertions of a 0.1 change since pre-industrial times.

    You seem to be making the argument that this trend is small relative to natural variability. Fair enough, but that natural variability does not erase the existence of the underlying trend in the data, and it does not follow that a secular trend must not be problematic. The annual temperature variation in my region is ~40 deg C over the course of a year. That doesn’t mean that a long-term shift of a degree or three is inconsequential (though I realize that may be a minority view around here).

  149. David Middleton says:

    @ syphax (13:48:27)

    First: If you have a cyclical function with an amplitude of 0.3 and a period of 50 years, a 0.1 change over an 18 year period is not a secular trend. To be a meaningful secular trend it would have to exceed the amplitude and period of the natural cycle. If I did a linear regression of one leg of a Sin wave, I’d get one heck of an apparent secular trend – And it would be totally meaningless.

    Second: Go to Fig. 1 in the Dore paper. The orange circles are the measured pH. The green circles (most of the circles) are calculated from Dissolved Inorganic Carbon (DIC) and Total Alkalinity (TA). TA is basically the sum of the carbonate, bicarbonate and other acid neutralizing compounds in the solution. The pCO2 of the seawater is also calculated from DIC and TA. The measured pH of the surface water consists of two clusters from ~1991-1998 and ~2003-2007. The measured pH from 1995-1998 is flat the measured pH from 2003-2006 is rising. The mean of the earlier measured cluster is slightly higher than the mean of the second cluster.

    The trends (such as they are) of seawater pCO2 and most of the pH were both calculated from DIC and TA. A trend calculated from the correlation of two functions calculated from the same variables is probably going to pretty good most of the time. The modeled pH and pCO2 might very well be valid; but they don’t deviate from the natural variability.

    The apt temperature anomaly would be if someone called part of your 40°C seasonal climb from the winter to summer a secular trend and used it to predict future warming. A warming trend of 10°C from February to April would not be a secular trend; it would be a component of an annual cycle.

  150. Harry Eagar says:

    The oceans are not acidifying. They might become less alkaline, but they will never become acidic.

    The oceans have about the same pH as Bromo-Seltzer. They will always have about the same pH as Bromo-Seltzer.

  151. David Middleton says:

    @ Harry Eagar (14:42:41) :

    Even during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, the oceans didn’t truly acidify… pH remained above 7. The PETM was characterized by volcanic activity that was a lot closer to the Deccan Traps than anything Earth has experienced since end Cretaceous time.

  152. Gidi says:

    I know it had been said before here, but the THE BOTTOM LINE made me laugh… Either Ries is an idiot, or he thinks that the readers are :(

  153. Geosota says:

    I seem to have unexpectedly waded into an underwater discussion on acid. Until today, an “apt temperature anomaly” was what happens in winter when a girlfriend wakes up early and starts cooking breakfast and making coffee in the kitchen, where the thermostat is, resulting in bedroom butt/weiner-freeze, aka triassic extinction. Don’t let me interrupt.

  154. Douglas Haynes says:

    As a follow on from the ocean floor alteration systems and pH-pCO2 relationships.

    I regard the ocean as being in a “leaky container” with walls that interact with its contents in a manner that partially removes HCO3 and keeps the pH alkaline. Shouldn’t we therefore consider the effect of these container walls in any investigation aimed at determining long term oceanic pH and m(t)HCO3 values?

    Note that circulation via the sea floor hot springs extends one km or more into the “container walls”, i.e. the seafloor (as indicated by the alkaline hot spring vent water temps) (circulation depths are greater for the acid black smokers – noting that the driver for the acid pH in the black smokers is the removal of seawater OH through precipitation of minerals such as chlorite and magnesium hydroxysulfate in the downflow paths- see papers by M H Reed, for example) Volumes of seawater circulated by sea floor hot spring activity are very large, and I understand of the order of a complete ocean volume every 100 my or so. This translates to 10% of the ocean every 10my!

    So I believe that investigation of the ocean “container wall” effect as pH and as m(t)HCO3 buffers is required before we can properly address the question of long term controls on these important sea water properties. The preceding discussions seems to me to be focussing only on the contents of the container! But this container is a very leaky one, and it contains very reactive walls, with a HUGE surface area in contact with its contents!

    Comments would be appreciated!

  155. steve from brisbane says:

    Care to share with us your background and qualifications, D Middleton?

    And I note there was another recent paper on rate of acidification from around Iceland (with measurements over 20 odd years.) Care to comment.

  156. Mike Maxwell says:

    Re “A complete list of things caused by global warming”: They left off one. The ground is now harder, as I can attest to from a recent camping trip. It was much softer 40-odd years ago when I was a kid.

  157. David Middleton says:

    steve from brisbane (16:48:28) :

    Care to share with us your background and qualifications, D Middleton?

    My background and qualifications really aren’t relevant to the merits of my arguments. Even if they were, you can’t verify them any more than I could verify any other commenter on this blog.

    For what it’s worth… I have a BS in Earth Science (Geology Concentration) and a Math minor from Southern Connecticut State University (1980). I am a member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists and the Society of Exploration Geophysicists. I have worked as an Exploration Geophysicist in the oil industry, primarily in the Gulf of Mexico, for several companies from 1981-2007. Since February 2007, I have been VP of Exploration for an oil company.

    And I note there was another recent paper on rate of acidification from around Iceland (with measurements over 20 odd years.) Care to comment.

    Can I have a hint? Maybe the author’s name or the publication? Debunking junk science is just a hobby of mine. I don’t do it for a living and I don’t read everything that’s ever published.

  158. David Middleton says:

    @ steve from brisbane (16:48:28) :

    This might be the Iceland paper…

    “Biogeosciences, 6, 2661–2668, 2009

    Rate of Iceland Sea acidification from time series measurements
    J. Olafsson1,2, S. R. Olafsdottir1, A. Benoit-Cattin1, M. Danielsen1, T. S. Arnarson1,3, and T. Takahashi4″

    1) pH was calculated from seawater pCO2… “Although direct measurements of pH or H+ ion concentration in seawater are desirable, commonly
    used electrode methods suffer from ambiguities in regards to whether measurements represent H+ ion activities, concentrations, or the sum of concentrations of H+ species involved in acid-base reactions.”

    In other words, the pH data are model-derived and not measured.

    2) Olafsson et al. conclude that, “In the surface, the pH has decreased from 8.13 to 8.08 between 1985 and 2008.”

    If the oceans have acidified 0.1 unit since the 1700′s, half of that acidification happened between 1985 and 2008 according to this paper.

    The range of natural pH variability over the last 6,000 years is 7.9 to 8.4… 8.08 to 8.13 is well within that range.

  159. steve from brisbane says:

    I note from that a Japanese newspaper also reported recently on a Japanese team is also reporting on pH drop over a 20 year period:

    A group of scientists, led by Takashi Midorikawa of the Meteorological Research Institute in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, has checked the pH readings of surface seawater off the Kii Peninsula at 30 degrees north latitude that have been made since 1986. They have found that the pH has dropped by 0.04 during this period, a considerable change.

    Story is here: http://tinyurl.com/y9alzuj

    Does “natural variability” work in the same direction over the same period in various far flung parts of the world? I strongly suspect you are just making excuses.

  160. Douglas Haynes says:

    @ steve from brisbane 22:41:17

    Care to share with us your background and qualifications, Steve from brisbane?

    I note your comments re sceptics and the “true believers” elsewhere.

    I am not sure I would use two measurements indicating a slight decrease in surface ocean pH – one spot off a volcanic island – the other being a spot in a volcanic arc – to draw a conclusion that the decrease is “significant”, whatever that means in your qualitative terms.

  161. Mooloo says:

    Since when is 0.04 a “considerable” change?

    I have extreme doubts about the projected change alleged in that Japanese study.

    The CO2 / pH relationship is not linear. As the pH rises, the amount of CO2 needed to drive it more alkaline increases exponentially (as pH is a logarithmic scale). Meanwhile, of course, plants will grow faster as CO2 increases, which is another equilibrium working against the pH change.

    If 20 years is enough to drive 0.04 change in pH, then it does not follow that a linear increase in CO2 over the next 100 years will be enough to drive pH by 0.4. Nowhere near it. That would take an exponential increase in CO2 over the next 100 years. A linear trend is only for a change of 5 x 0.04 = 0.2 and you have to work really, really hard to achieve that in an exponential system, let alone twice that.

    I call BS on a pH change of 0.04 over 20 years leading to a 0.4 change over 100 years.

    If the increase in man-made CO2 over the next 100 years increases exponentially, then acidified oceans are going to be the least of our issues. We will have to be burning an absolutely astounding amount of coal and oil to maintain that sort of increase in CO2. The whole earth will have to be a giant smokestack.

  162. David Middleton says:

    @ steve from brisbane (22:41:17) :

    A 0.04 change in pH over 20 years is not considerable when pH is documented to have a 0.24 diurnal variability and a 0.3 cyclical (~50-yr) variability.

    “Natural variability” can indeed work in the same direction if that natural variability is part of a natural cycle.

    Furthermore, both Wootton et al., 2009 and Olafsson et al., 2009 derived most (all in the case of Olafsson) of their pH series from surface water pCO2 (which generally has a linear relationship to atmospheric CO2); then they correlated the pCO2-dervied pH to CO2.

    This is a circular relationship. It finds a high correlation between fCO2 and CO2. It is Garbage In – Garbage Out.

    Did Midorikawa et al. publish anything? This is an article from something called iStockAnalyst. Did they directly measure pH? Did they calculate it from Total Alkalinity (not the same thing as basicity or anti-pH)? The article provides no data. The article claims that pH has dropped by 0.04 units since 1986. Once again, that is almost half of the total pH decline that Caldeira and others assert has happened over the last 200+ years. The article also says…

    The figures in the data the group collected for this study are not serious, but the pace of acidification is causing concern.

    That’s nothing but psychobabble.

    Seawater pH is notoriously difficult to measure. That’s why most seawater pH estimates are derived. It can be derived from coral using 11B concentrations (independent of pCO2).

    All of the “ocean acidification described by Wootton, Olafsson, and Midorikawa fall smack-dab in the middle of the seawater pH range (from d11B) over the last 6,000 years…

    pH vCO2

    A plot of CO2 vs pH from the Flinders Reef dataset (Pelejero et al., 2005) shows no statistically significant correlation between CO2 and pH from 1788-1988…

    Flinders Reef pH v CO2

  163. David Middleton says:

    A correction to David Middleton (04:00:10) :

    It was Dore, not Wootton, that derived pH from CO2…

    Furthermore, both Dore et al., 2009 and Olafsson et al., 2009 derived most (all in the case of Olafsson) of their pH series from surface water pCO2 (which generally has a linear relationship to atmospheric CO2); then they correlated the pCO2-dervied pH to CO2.

  164. Boulderfield says:

    “The bottom line is that we really need to bring down CO2 levels in the atmosphere,” said Ries.

    That closing statement could be in the same category as Cato’s “Furthermore, I think Carthage must be destroyed”, i.e. a profession of strong personal conviction, not necessarily related to the subject at hand.

    More likely, though, it is an affirmation of a collective belief under society’s normative pressure, like Seinfeld’s “Not that there is anything wrong with that!” or Muslims’ “Peace be upon Him”. Justin B. Ries doesn’t want to be accused of contributing to heresy.

    It just doesn’t have anything to do with science (which seems solid based on the few tidbits about their research).

  165. Chuck Booth says:

    Many (most?) of the responses posted here seem to assume that a larger shell is somehow beneficial to molluscs and crustaceans. It may be (e.g., it may provide more protection from predation), but not necessarily – laying down calcium carbonate shell requires energy to fuel ion transport. Thus, the extra shell could represent an energy drain that reduces the animal’s fitness. Moreover, animals that have to carry their shell around may face higher cost of transport lugging a heavier shell. It is usually unwise to put too much stock in a single paper, esp one that reports new or unexpected results; such a paper is rarely the final word on the subject.

  166. Jeremy Weisz says:

    I’d like to know how many of the commenters bothered to read the actual publication before making rude comments about the scientists. I am sure that all of these people making insults are also prone to bash the media, yet somehow this press release is trustworthy? Just because this article closes with this potentially contradictory statement in no way suggests that the peer-reviewed article also does. I also find it hard to accept criticism of scientific work from a group that obviously knows very little basic science. All of you complaining that inorganic carbon doesn’t exist should please do a little bit of reading first. An organic molecule by definition has carbon and hydrogen atoms. So lots of molecules, like CO2, that have carbon but no hydrogen are inorganic. Also, the smug commenter so certain that lobster shells are made of chitin and therefore irrelevant to this discussion also ought to do some reading. Lobster shells are made of chitin and calcium carbonate, so they are very much influenced by the ocean carbonate chemistry.

  167. Michael Jankowski says:

    Just read an article about Congress on Yahoo which touches on this issue and Climategate http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/sci_climate_hearing – I guess Jane Lubchenco at NOAA doesn’t know about this resarch?

    …”The e-mails do nothing to undermine the very strong scientific consensus … that tells us the earth is warming, that warming is largely a result of human activity,” said another government scientist Jane Lubchenco. A marine biologist and climate researcher, she heads the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

    The e-mails don’t negate or even deal with data from both NOAA and NASA, which keep independent climate records and show dramatic warming, Lubchenco told members of the House global warming committee.

    The hearing was supposed to focus on the latest in global warming scientific findings. Lubchenco even attempted a high school chemistry lesson with two quick experiments at the witness table. Donning one rubber glove, she demonstrated how adding carbon dioxide to water made it more acidic and said that is what’s now happening in the world’s oceans. Then she put chalk in acidic water compounds and showed it dissolving a bit, to demonstrate what will happen eventually to vital sea life…”

  168. Geosota says:

    The requirement of both Hydrogen & Carbon for a compound to be classified as organic is a new one on me. In fact, I’m having trouble finding any support for your definition, Jeremy.

    This is from Dictionary.com’s Medical Dictionary:
    (1) : of,relating to, or containing carbon compounds

    I’m an older scientist, but I try to keep up with the lingo, so I dug deeper. According to John Gribben, my favorite science writer, the term “organic chemistry” was coined by Jons Berzelius (1779-1848), better known as the inventor of the modern alphabetical system of nomenclature of the elements. (He was also the first to use other terms like “catalysis” and “protein”.)

    The term “organic” initially applied only to stuff that comes from living things. That changed in 1828 when Friedrich Wohler inadvertently synthesized urea. “… the definition of ‘organic’ changed. By the end of the nineteenth century it was clear that there was no mysterious life force at work in organic chemistry, and that there are two things which distinguish organic compounds from inorganic compounds. First, organic compounds are often complex … Second, organic compounds all contain carbon…”

    No mention of Hydrogen. If you have a reference, I would be happy to see it.

    George

  169. David Middleton says:

    @Jeremy Weisz (10:42:41) :

    I haven’t read the full paper yet; but I might just buy a copy of it ($25 to the GSA).

    The press release is from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. The lead author, Justin Ries, was a postdoctoral fellow at WHOI from 2007-2008.

    According to the abstract of Ries et al., 2009, their “results suggest that the impact of elevated atmospheric pCO2 on marine calcification is more varied than previously thought.”

    This continues a recent pattern in which scientists were surprised when carbonate shell building organisms used elevated pCO2 to make limestone…

    Checkley et al., 2009: “We show that otoliths (aragonite ear bones) of young fish grown under high CO2 (low pH) conditions are larger than normal, contrary to expectation.”

    Iglesias-Rodriguez et al., 2008: “Ocean acidification in response to rising atmospheric CO2 partial pressures is widely expected to reduce calcification by marine organisms. From the mid-Mesozoic, coccolithophores have been major calcium carbonate producers in the world’s oceans, today accounting for about a third of the total marine CaCO3 production. Here, we present laboratory evidence that calcification and net primary production in the coccolithophore species Emiliania huxleyi are significantly increased by high CO2 partial pressures. Field evidence from the deep ocean is consistent with these laboratory conclusions, indicating that over the past 220 years there has been a 40% increase in average coccolith mass.”

    Some of us find this very humorous; because every time the ocean acidification hypothesis is tested, it seems to get falsified to some degree.

  170. Chuck Booth says:

    Geosota and Jeremy,

    I will contradict Jeremy a bit to clarify Geosota’s question about inorganic carbon:

    Aquatic chemists, limnologist, et al refer to dissolved CO2 gas, bicarbonate (which obviously has hydrogen), and carbonate as “inorganic carbon.” You can find this explained in a modern limnology textbook (e.g,Wetzel, R.G. 2001 Limnology , 3rd ed. Academic Press; refer to Chpt 11 The Dissolved Inorganic Carbon Complex), or here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Total_inorganic_carbon
    http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/general/project/ocdrhw3.html

    A google search of dissolved inorganic carbon will turn up many other links in which the term is used.

  171. Geosota says:

    Thanks, Chuck. Quick, correct & appreciated. (sorry if I’m double posting here, but when I went off noodling this, my comment box cleared).

    Btw, when I started looking around, I left out the word “total”. That search was less satisfactory, e.g., “The distinction between organic and inorganic compounds is only a matter of convention, and there are several compounds that have been classified either way, such as: NH2COONH4, COCl2, CSCl2, CS(NH2)2, CO(NH2)2.” Arrgh! I’d take Jeremy’s C-H definition over that, or the old “no C means inorganic”.

    Anyhow, I do see the value of TIC for limnology. Although this is not my field, it’s obviously important in current affairs. Again, thanks! And yes, Carthage must be destroyed.

  172. Chuck Booth says:

    David Middleton,

    Some of us find it amusing that you and other posting here appear to trust research papers that support your views, but dismiss, or even ridicule, those that oppose your views, without providing substantive explanations for why the latter papers are flawed.

    Anyway, so, initial predictions that increased ocean pCO2 would decrease calcification rates are confirmed for some organisms (e.g., corals and pteropods; reviewed by Joan Kleypas et al in numerous papers, several of which are listed here: http://www.ucar.edu/news/people/Kleypas/; see also the recent review on CO2 effects on corals by Veron et al., 2009, Marine Pollution Bulletin 58, pp 1428-1436: http://tiny.cc/F2Ymk), but is refuted for other organisms, such as shellfish or fish otoliths. Isn’t that the way science works?
    And is it possible that larger otoliths are harmful to fish? Is it possible that coccoliths with larger tests sink more quickly, which would reduce their fitness?

    Lastly, the fact the the press release came from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute doesn’t guarantee that it is completely accurate – press releases are typically produced by public relations staff, most of whom are not scientists, and all of whom are trying to tell an exciting story; in my experience, even in-house press releases from scientific institutions or agencies contain statements that make the scientists whose work is being highlighted, cringe.

  173. David Middleton says:

    Alright… I ponied up $25 to the GSA and bought the paper.

    18 benthic species were selected to represent a wide variety of taxa: “crustacea, cnidaria, echinoidea, rhodophyta, chlorophyta, gastropoda, bivalvia, annelida.” They were tested under four CO2/Ωaragonite scenarios:

    409 ppm (Modern day)
    606 ppm (2x Pre-industrial)
    903 ppm (3x Pre-industrial)
    2856 ppm (10x Pre-industrial)

    7/18 were not adversely affected by 10x pre-industrial CO2: Calcification rates relative to modern levels were higher or flat at 2856 ppm for blue crab, shrimp, lobster, limpet, purple urchin, coralline red algae, and blue mussel.

    6/18 were not adversely affected by 3x pre-industrial CO2: Calcification rates relative to modern levels were higher or flat at 903 ppm for halimeda, temperate coral, pencil urchin, conch, bay scallop and whelk.

    3/18 were not adversely affected by 2x pre-industrial CO2: Calcification rates relative to modern levels were higher or flat at 903 ppm for hard clam, serpulid worm and periwinkle.

    2/18 had very slight declines in calcification at 2x pre-industrial: Oyster and soft clam.

    The effects on calcification rates for all 18 species were either negligible or positive up to 606 ppm CO2.

  174. supercritical says:

    Douglas Haynes (01:55:27) :

    I found your post really interesting, especially news of the existence of large-scale low-temperature hydrothermal vents ( aka warm-water-volcanoes) operating at fantastic pressures. I have a hunch that the chemistry of such systems and their hotter cousins is likely to be really significant, including their role in the formation of clathrates, oil, and mineral ore deposits. And, I hope that funding for research into such new discoveries is not being crowded-out by the AGW fad.

    But on the use by AGWists of scary CO2 scenarios, I wonder about the fact that two oxygen atoms are used to form each molecule of CO2. So rather than worry about an Increase in atmospheric CO2, what about the appalling loss of atmospheric O2? Aren’t all animals, including Polar Bears and Kittens, in imminent danger of suffocation? How scary could THAT be?

  175. David Middleton says:

    @Chuck Booth (13:22:21) :

    So… Increasing and decreasing calcification rates are both proof of ocean acidification? If everything proves a hypothesis, it is not falsifiable and therefore not scientific.

    The coccolithophores have done A-OK for more than 100 million years. From Iglesias-Rodriguez et al., 2008…

    From the mid-Mesozoic, coccolithophores have been major calcium carbonate producers in the world’s oceans, today accounting for about a third of the total marine CaCO3 production.

    They just happen to do better in a high-CO2 world. I’ll venture a guess that global warming has drowned more polar bears than it has coccolithophores.

  176. Chuck Booth says:

    David Middleton,

    You have it backwards: Altered calcification rates are not proof of ocean acidification – they are a predicted consequence of acidification due to elevated pCO2. The evidence for ocean acidification is a measured reduction in ocean pH and alterations in carbonate concentration and calcite and aragonite saturation states. The decrease in pH so far is quite modest- about 0.1 pH unit- but the changes in carbonate chemistry indicate the buffering capacity of the ocean is being reduced by the rising pCO2. And, of course, any effects of ocean acidification are made more complex by gobal warming. Ocean acidification is explained in detail here:

    http://www.ucar.edu/communications/Final_acidification.pdf

    and in very simple terms here:

    http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/co2/OA/

  177. Chuck Booth says:

    supercritical,

    The oxygen in CO2 comes from organic molecules that are degraded in aerobic cell respiration and other metabolic pathways. There is no evidence that atmospheric oxygen concentration (or, more accurately, oxygen partial pressure) is decreasing. Please understand that, while CO2 has risen by about 100 parts per million (285 to 385) since the start of the industrial age, the concentration of oxygen in the atmosphere is 21%, or 210,000 parts per million.

  178. Hazen says:

    I think the title of this article lead many people (judging by the comments posted) to jump to the conclusion that ocean acidification is good for calcifying organisms…they seem to just jump over the fact that it says SOME organisms in the title and they also ignore many of the points that the article makes.

    Biological systems are complex and many factors interact in surprising and unexpected ways. This is part of what makes science interesting and exciting. If you go beyond the title of the article and read the content you find out that the researchers used optimal conditions to rear their organisms. Since nutrients (obviously) play a large role in how well an organism prospers, changes in nutrients (ie less than ideal conditions) could drastically change the results.

    The article says they found 7 out of 18 organisms that created thicker shells. Even if these organisms are found to prosper in increased CO2 (and I don’t doubt that some organisms will be able to cope with increased CO2 levels), ecosystems are webs and organisms are interdependent. The article specifically points out one of the many possible interactions whereby crab are able to increase their shell output while their prey, a clam, decreases it’s output. Will crabs then increase the number of clams they eat (because the clams have a reduced defense?) What happens when crabs start eating more clams? Will the crab population increase? Do the clams go extinct? What does this do to the rest of the ecosystem (the organisms that live in the clam beds, the birds that eat the crabs etc.)? The ramifications could be huge both for the ecosystem and the fisheries that pull products from that ecosystem. This is why it’s important to ask the questions!

    Also, there’s usually a biological “cost” to increased protections. Just like it takes us time and energy to create armor out of steel, it takes energy and resources for crabs and other organisms to create exoskeletons. If they’re making thicker skeletons, where are they getting extra energy and resources from? They have to come from somewhere, from increased foraging, from a reduction in reproduction etc. And again, what happens when food (resources) are scarce? Can they still maintain that extra growth?

    There were several comments that criticized the article for mentioning future possibilities for research because they interpreted it as a way of asking for more grant money. I would argue instead that they were stating what they know within the limits of their experiment and mentioning ways for other scientists to broaden and explore the topic. This is part of good science!

    I found the article to be informative and interesting and I, for one, look forward to future findings.

    Thanks!

  179. Chuck Booth says:

    Of course, fossil fuel combustion also degrades organic molecules, resulting in the production of CO2, but the oxygen still comes from the organic molecules in the coal, oil, or whatever.

  180. David Middleton says:

    Chuck Booth (16:43:21) :

    David Middleton,

    You have it backwards: Altered calcification rates are not proof of ocean acidification – they are a predicted consequence of acidification due to elevated pCO2. The evidence for ocean acidification is a measured reduction in ocean pH and alterations in carbonate concentration and calcite and aragonite saturation states. The decrease in pH so far is quite modest- about 0.1 pH unit- but the changes in carbonate chemistry indicate the buffering capacity of the ocean is being reduced by the rising pCO2. And, of course, any effects of ocean acidification are made more complex by gobal warming. Ocean acidification is explained in detail here:

    http://www.ucar.edu/communications/Final_acidification.pdf

    and in very simple terms here:

    http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/co2/OA/

    If the ocean acidification hypothesis simply predicts that all calcification rate changes, irrespective of the sign of the change, it’s no more of a scientific theory than Creation Science is.

    There is no “measured reduction in ocean pH” over any significant time period. The only pH series that cover more than a few years that support ocean acidification are derived from pCO2.

  181. David Middleton says:

    Just cause I love Excel… Here’s a plot of Flinders Reef calcification rate and atmospheric CO2 from 1708-1988…

    Flinders Reef Calc. Rate vs CO2

    It’s kind of hard to see any adverse effect of pCO2 on the calcification rate of this reef.

    NOAA has a library of dozens of coral reef calcification rates. I’ve only looked at a few; but none of the reefs that I’ve looked at, have declining calcification rates over the last 200+ years.

  182. Geosota says:

    “Of course, fossil fuel combustion also degrades organic molecules, resulting in the production of CO2, but the oxygen still comes from the organic molecules in the coal, oil, or whatever.”

    Chuck – I have really gotten a lot out of your comments on this thread, but this one really has me scratching my head. My car, a fossil fuel combuster, has an air intake to provide oxygen. Likewise coal-fired power plants, huge ones. What the heck to you mean here? – George

  183. steve from brisbane says:

    David Middleton: you are aware of the study on Australian coral from earlier this year, aren’t you?: http://tinyurl.com/yaqdse6

    It’s not a direct proof of ocean acidification causing the slowing calcification, but its suggestive.

    I read recently that coring of old Caribbean corals is underway now too, to check old growth rates.

  184. I should add: I know this is a complicated area, and that the lab results on corals have been a real mixed bag. (From recollection, some corals take lower pH in their stride, others don’t. Some don’t die, but turn into soft bodied things.) Then you have the complicating factor of increasing water temperatures. (Again, from recollection – warmer water is generally good for corals, but too warm and they bleach and take some years to recover.) Increased acidification also has been shown to affect symbiotic algae that coral use too.

    There is no doubt of life of some varieties will continue in lower pH seawater. The issue is, though, whether the mix of sea life will change (from plankton up) in such a way that hurts humans, or indeed the aquatic mammals (eg by affecting important fisheries.) Another scenario is that increased algal blooms could have have a detrimental effects. Nasty poisonous algal blooms are already a big enough problem in some areas.

    As for unexpected ecological consequences, earlier this year I noted from a TV documentary that dying salmon in the upper streams of the North West American coast are now believed to be the most important source of nitrogen for the giant forests there. Although the show did not make the connection, I immediately thought that it must be a pessimistic but plausible chain of events then that acidified polar waters could mean less less fish food for salmon, which could even then affect the health of the forests. (Not to mention bears!)

    That CO2 has become large enough to have effects on ocean life (as most scientists believe) therefore gives rise to considerable concern as to the ecological consequences, even though they are hard to predict with precision.

  185. David Middleton says:

    steve from brisbane (22:19:51) :

    David Middleton: you are aware of the study on Australian coral from earlier this year, aren’t you?: http://tinyurl.com/yaqdse6

    It’s not a direct proof of ocean acidification causing the slowing calcification, but its suggestive.

    I read recently that coring of old Caribbean corals is underway now too, to check old growth rates.

    I’ve read the abstract and have some of his earlier papers. Most of the calcification data in the NOAA paleoclimatology library are from the author, Lough. The calcification data used by Pelejero at Flinders Reef was from Lough.

    The recent decline in calcification rate is due to a decline in extension rate or linear growth. Calcification is calculated by multiplying density times extension. The density of the coral has not been affected. Furthermore, the calcification rate is still positive. The rate of growth has simply changed. This has happened quite frequently in the past.

    The calcification rate of Flinders Reef (measured by Lough) declined by 35% from 1838 to 1868 and by 38% from 1888 to 1913. So a 14.2% decline in 18 years is hardly unprecedented in the last 400 years. The calcification rate actually increased by 60% from 1978 to 1988.

    Science is not about what scientists believe, are concerned about or how they want to help the environment. Science is supposed to be an objective process of observation, hypothesis, testing, more observation and conclusions (where possible). That’s how theories are built. It’s not a process of forming a nebulous consensus around something that scientists are concerned about.

  186. David Middleton says:

    steve from brisbane (22:47:16) :

    I should add: I know this is a complicated area, and that the lab results on corals have been a real mixed bag. (From recollection, some corals take lower pH in their stride, others don’t. Some don’t die, but turn into soft bodied things.) Then you have the complicating factor of increasing water temperatures. (Again, from recollection – warmer water is generally good for corals, but too warm and they bleach and take some years to recover.) Increased acidification also has been shown to affect symbiotic algae that coral use too.

    Coral bleaching is not harmful to reefs. It is fairly routine; bleaching events have been documented back to the 1870′s. It happens when hermatypic corals change out symbiotic zooxanthellae – Which happens quite often. Coral bleaching is commonly associated with El Niño events. Major bleaching episodes have been tied to major ENSO’s (1982-1983 and 1997-1998).

  187. Chuck Booth says:

    Geosota:

    Yes, I botched my responses a bit. Let me see if I can dig myself out:

    In aerobic cellular metabolism, oxygen is consume and CO2 is produced. But, the CO2 production occurs in the citric acid cycle (and an entry reaction to the citric acid cycle), whereas oxygen is used as a terminal electron acceptor, forming water (O + 2 e- + 2 H+ = H2O). Thus, the two oxygens in CO2 come from the oxygen atoms originally in the glucose molecule.

    My mistake was applying to the combustion of fossil fuels, or methane – in those oxidations, yes, some of the oxygen combines with carbon to form CO2, while some oxygen forms water. Sorry for not thinking that through more carefully.
    When combusting fossil fuels, and methane,

  188. Chuck Booth says:

    David Middleton,

    “If the ocean acidification hypothesis simply predicts ….”

    To what ocean acidification hypothesis are you referring? Can you provide a reference? I think you have erected a strawman here and are now busy beating it down.

    As for pH measurements versus pH values derived from pCO2 (and alkalinity) measurements, are suggesting that the latter are not correct? If so, please explain why pH cannot be calculated this way – is there a problem with the Henderson- Hasselbalch equation?

  189. Chuck Booth says:

    Geosota et al,

    Sorry for the typos in my last response. And I neglected to clarify my original response to supercritical by noting that, yes, the rise in atmospheric CO2 over the past 200 years has decreased the concentration of O2 in the atmosphere, but not by much: Supercritical correctly points out that each molecule of CO2 produced from fossil fuel combustion represents the removal of two molecules of oxygen- thus, the 100 ppm increase in CO2 should have caused a 200 ppm decrease in O2 concentration, which is only 0.1% – quite small. However, this calculation is complicated by the fact that there are other sources of atmospheric CO2, such as the burning of wood, which may have a different O2-CO2 stoichiometry. Plus, about half of the CO2 produced by fossil fuel combustion has been consumed in photosynthesis by plants and algae, which generates oxygen; the ratio of CO2 consumed to O2 produced, or photosynthetic quotient, depends on what molecules the plant is producing. Actual measurements of atmospheric oxygen concentration indicate a decline of 0.03% over the past 20 years, which is really quite negligible:
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/07/990719033405.htm

  190. Isaac says:

    For everyone pointing out that CO2 levels have been significantly higher in the past, yes it’s true. But, you all need to stop thinking on human timescales. In the cases where CO2 levels were thousands of ppm higher than modern levels, it took hundreds of thousands of years. That is ample time for marine organisms to adapt and evolve.

    On the other hand, if current rates of increase remain as they are we will reach those upper levels of known CO2 in just hundreds of years. That is what really makes the difference. It’s a matter of rates. Stop taking things at face value and use your supposedly superior brains to really think about it.

    And, yes, some of the organisms DID benefit from the elevated CO2 levels. Unfortunately, what the author of this article neglected to mention is that only 3 of those organisms continued to benefit. The other 4 experienced declining calcification rates after moderate CO2 increases.

    “The bottom line is” that this is a very poorly written article when it comes to explaining the major results of the research. Ultimately, 15 of the 18 organisms were negatively impacted by the higher CO2 levels.

  191. Isaac says:

    I must amend my previous post. 14 of the 18 were negatively impacted by the higher CO2 levels. The mussel experienced no changes at all CO2 levels.

  192. yonason says:

    David Middleton (20:09:36) :

    “Just cause I love Excel… Here’s a plot of Flinders Reef calcification rate and atmospheric CO2 from 1708-1988…

    Flinders Reef Calc. Rate vs CO2

    It’s kind of hard to see any adverse effect of pCO2 on the calcification rate of this reef.”

    Actually, the slope from 1890 to present looks negative, . . . as does that from 1770 to 1870 (and with about the same negative slope?),

    . . . ‘but if we only show the data from 1890 on, then we might be able to hide the fact that the decline seems unrelated to the CO2 conc.’

    (Also, note that prior to 1770, there may have been some decline, as well – it almost looks like coral have a roughly 100 year cycle where growth increases rapidly, then more and more slowly, then rapidly?)

    “NOAA has a library of dozens of coral reef calcification rates. I’ve only looked at a few; but none of the reefs that I’ve looked at, have declining calcification rates over the last 200+ years.”

    Was there supposed to be a list of them? I didn’t see any.

  193. Chuck Booth says:

    Isaac and others,

    When referring to the “article” it is important to distinguish between the original research article by Ries et al in Geology, and the WHOI press release (reprinted by Watts Up With That, above). Ries et al were fairly cautious in the conclusion to their article:

    “Our experiments suggest that the response of calcifying marine organisms to elevated atmospheric pCO2 will be variable and complex. However, with the data at hand, it is difficult to predict how these changes in calcification will impact organisms’ survival, reproductive success, and overall ecosystem health. Even those organisms showing enhanced calcification under elevated pCO2 could be negatively impacted by the decline of less CO2-tolerant species within their ecosystems. We have only begun to generate the data needed to assess CO2-driven impacts on organisms and ecosystems in the geologic past, and to anticipate the effects of anthropogenic ocean acidification in the decades and centuries ahead.”

  194. David Middleton says:

    Chuck Booth (06:36:11) :

    David Middleton,

    “If the ocean acidification hypothesis simply predicts ….”

    To what ocean acidification hypothesis are you referring? Can you provide a reference? I think you have erected a strawman here and are now busy beating it down.

    That’s my point. Ocean acidification is used as a “catch all”. It really isn’t a theory or even a hypothesis as it is commonly used.

    The geological theory of ocean acidification is that a sufficient decline in pH can cause the Carbonate Compensation Depth (AKA lysocline) to become shallower, or shoal. The CCD is the depth below which calcium carbonate dissolved faster than it accumulates. A CCD shoaling in the South Atlantic Ocean can be documented about 55 million years ago during the PETM; a period of near-extinction-level volcanism. Oceanic pH is estimated to have declined to ~7.4 for a period of time; however the connection between that acidification episode and CO2 is extremely tenuous.

    This is something that can be tested. The CCD is either shoaling; or it isn’t. There is no evidence that the CCD is becoming shallower.

    As for pH measurements versus pH values derived from pCO2 (and alkalinity) measurements, are suggesting that the latter are not correct? If so, please explain why pH cannot be calculated this way – is there a problem with the Henderson- Hasselbalch equation?

    The Henderson–Hasselbalch equation is a fine way of deriving pH. As I said in an earlier post, the derivation might be correct. Using DIC, pCO2 and TA to derive K makes a lot of assumptions about CO2 and H2CO3.

    The problem is in correlating a function of CO2 with CO2 and then saying that the correlation is meaningful. Particularly if you are asserting a linear relationship between CO2 and pH in light of the fact that all of the derived pH “declines” fall right in the middle of the oceanic pH range over the last 6,000 years.

  195. David Middleton says:

    Isaac (08:05:38) :

    I must amend my previous post. 14 of the 18 were negatively impacted by the higher CO2 levels. The mussel experienced no changes at all CO2 levels.

    That’s nonsense; the effects on calcification rates for all 18 species were either negligible or positive up to 606 ppm CO2. Only 2 species showed even a slight decline in calcification rate at 606 ppm (oysters and soft clams).

    I have a copy of the paper right in front of me. 13 of the 18 had increasing or flat calcification rates out to 903 ppm. None of the species actually experienced dissolution until CO2 was jacked up above 903 ppm.

  196. yonason says:

    Chuck Booth (09:35:35) :

    I don’t have the paper. Does he say anything in materials and methods, like about how he added the CO2, and if he used any artificial buffers in the water? Was it real sea water, or a lab concoction meant to simulate seawater? Were there, as DaveH (20:05:25) : said, bits of coral added (to supply the necessary Ca or Mg ions?)?

    I know from experience that just a slight change in ambient culture conditions can drastically change the results of, in my case mammalian cell cultures. E.g., changing to a different lot# of bovine or equine serum supplement can erase an effect, as can changing to a different but “equivalant” medium. So I am VERY wary of any results produced in a lab, because there are so many artifacts that can result from an ever so slight change.

  197. David Middleton says:

    yonason (09:29:38) :

    David Middleton (20:09:36) :

    “Just cause I love Excel… Here’s a plot of Flinders Reef calcification rate and atmospheric CO2 from 1708-1988…

    Flinders Reef Calc. Rate vs CO2

    It’s kind of hard to see any adverse effect of pCO2 on the calcification rate of this reef.”

    Actually, the slope from 1890 to present looks negative, . . . as does that from 1770 to 1870 (and with about the same negative slope?),

    . . . ‘but if we only show the data from 1890 on, then we might be able to hide the fact that the decline seems unrelated to the CO2 conc.’

    (Also, note that prior to 1770, there may have been some decline, as well – it almost looks like coral have a roughly 100 year cycle where growth increases rapidly, then more and more slowly, then rapidly?)

    “NOAA has a library of dozens of coral reef calcification rates. I’ve only looked at a few; but none of the reefs that I’ve looked at, have declining calcification rates over the last 200+ years.”

    Was there supposed to be a list of them? I didn’t see any.

    Here’s a link to NOAA’s coral search engine…

    Coral and Sclerosponge Data Search

    You can search by variable (pH, Calcification, etc.), site name, author, Lat/Lon, or country.

  198. yonason says:

    David Middleton (10:05:27) :

    Thanks

    And, yeah, EXCELL is one of my favorite tools, as well.

  199. yonason says:

    Others have asked, and I too can’t help but wonder, what he was thinking when he wrote this.

    We have only begun to generate the data needed to a$$e$$ CO2-driven impact$ on organi$m$ and eco$ystem$ in the geologic pa$t, and to anticipate the effect$ of anthropogenic ocean acidification in the decade$ and centurie$ ahead.”

    Make funding payable to . . .

  200. Chuck Booth says:

    yonason:

    The seawater was not described in the actual article, but is described in the online data repository:

    “1. Experimental growth conditions
    Organisms were grown for 60 days in 24 38-Liter glass aquaria filled with 0.2 µm- filtered seawater obtained from Great Harbor in Vineyard Sound off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The aquaria were divided into six sets of four, which were continuously equilibrated with air-CO2 gas mixtures …” [I'm reluctant to post any more for fear of copyright violation]

    There is an extensive justification for the experimental conditions used and calculations made. I see nothing about bits of coral being added.

  201. Chuck Booth says:

    David Middleton,

    “That’s my point. Ocean acidification is used as a “catch all”. It really isn’t a theory or even a hypothesis as it is commonly used.”

    As I understand it, “ocean acidification” was coined as a descriptive term for the apparent declining pH of ocean surface waters as a result of rising atmospheric pCO2. I have no interest in debating whether it qualifies as a scientific theory, or a hypothesis; the reality of declining ocean pH is testable, as are the predicted impacts of rising pCO2 and declining pH on marine organisms. That’s not to say these are easy to document in a convincing fashion, as the oceans and marine organisms are very complex systems. But, changes in seawater pH and impacts on organisms are testable, or falsifiable if you prefer that term.

  202. David Middleton says:

    @Chuck Booth (10:43:07):

    I agree. Those things are testable. And to the extent they have actually been tested:

    Oceanic pH is not declining in any way that deviates from natural non-CO2-driven trends over the last 6,000 years.

    The rise of CO2 from pre-industrial levels to modern day levels have not been demonstrated to have harmed marine life in any significant fashion.

    Laboratory tests have shown that CO2 levels would have to rise to above 900 ppmv before any measurable negative calcification would occur; and that they would have to rise to about 2,000 ppmv before some species begin to experience dissolution.

  203. yonason says:

    Chuck Booth (10:43:07) :

    “changes in seawater pH and impacts on organisms are testable, or falsifiable if you prefer that term.”

    As the link I posted above indicates, it is (at least in that case) FALSE.
    http://sanctuarymonitoring.org/regional_docs/monitoring_projects/100240_167.pdf

    There is no trend, and a LOT of variation within the pH range indicated as normal for oceans in the other link I posted, about 7.2-8.2 which makes their claims of an absolute “change” in the tenths of units, or less, totally meaningless.

    Chuck Booth (10:29:22) :

    Thanks. I wouldn’t want you to get in trouble for copyright infringement. I remain skeptical for the reasons I stated above. Their results may have real implications for oceans, or not. It’s suggestive, and no doubt the researchers need lots more funding to get more results (hey, even scientists gotta eat).

  204. Chuck Booth says:

    yonason,

    I’m curious – why do you trust data from near-shore water in Monterrey Bay as being representative of the surface waters of the world oceans? Any oceanographer would tell you that there is considerable spatial and temporal variation in ocean chemistry, esp. between coastal waters and the open ocean.

    Long term monitoring studies of the open ocean are surely more reliable. So, what do such studies show?

    From Kleypas et al (2006)*:

    There is clear evidence that the carbonate equi-
    librium of the oceans is shifting in response to in-
    creasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Carbon-
    ate chemistry measurements at the Hawaiian Ocean
    Time-series (HOT), the Bermuda-Atlantic Time-series
    (BATS), and the European Station for Times Series in
    the Ocean at the Canary Islands (ESTOC) show a shift
    in carbonate equilibrium consistent with increases in
    atmospheric CO2 (Figure 1–2) (Bates, 2001; Gruber
    et al., 2002, González-Dávila et al., 2003; Brix et al.,
    2004). Over the last two decades, several large-scale
    programs ( Joint Global Ocean Survey, World Ocean
    Circulation Experiment, Ocean-Atmosphere Carbon
    Exchange Study) have measured the carbonate chem-
    istry (mainly the total dissolved inorganic carbon,
    DIC, and the total alkalinity, AT ) along multiple ocean
    transects. These measurements allowed quantifica-
    tion of the anthropogenic carbon in the oceans, re-
    gionally and with depth (Sabine et al., 2004) (Box 2),
    and have been used to estimate changes in the calcite
    and aragonite saturation states (Feely et al., 2004)….

    *Impacts of Ocean Acidification on Coral Reefs and Other Marine Calcifiers: A Guide for Future Research
    A report from a workshop sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Geological Survey

    Authors
    Joan A. Kleypas, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO
    Richard A. Feely, Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, NOAA, Seattle, WA
    Victoria J. Fabry, California State University San Marcos, San Marcos, CA
    Chris Langdon, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of
    Miami, Miami, FL
    Christopher L. Sabine, Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, NOAA, Seattle, WA
    Lisa L. Robbins, Center for Coastal and Watershed Studies, USGS, St. Petersburg, FL

    From the Bermuda Institute for Ocean Sciences BATS (Bermuda Atlantic Time Series) program:

    Multi-year increase in CO2 concentrations in the surface ocean has now been conclusively documented.

    Implications: At the beginning of BATS, it was hypothesized that the inorganic carbon dioxide concentrations in the surface ocean would increase as the concentrations increased in the atmosphere, but detection of this increase would be “masked” by the large seasonal changes in carbon dioxide. Fourteen years of high-quality measurements have now shown that surface carbon dioxide concentrations are in fact increasing. How the biological system will respond to this increase, however, is much less clear. Different phytoplankton groups have different affinities for carbon dioxide and also have varying efficiencies with which they remove this carbon into the ocean interior.

    http://www.bios.edu/research/batsfind.html

    I don’t think any scientist predicted that the responses of organisms to rising CO2 would be uniform, or simple. And I don’t think any scientist has suggested that we know everything there is to know. The key questions are, do we know enough to justify taking action now? Or, should we wait until we have more information?

  205. Harry Eagar says:

    I don’t suppose any real scientist expected responses of organisms would be uniform, either, but why did the director of NOAA try to fool Congress into thinking that the ocean’s chemistry has become similar to that of club soda?

  206. David Middleton says:

    @Chuck Booth (13:52:35) :

    What did Kleypas et al. have to say about pH changes? Did they measure pH?

    Feely et al., 2004 (Kleypas was part of the et al.) estimated the effect of anthropogenic CO2 on the aragonite and calcite saturation depths.

    Impact of Anthropogenic CO2 on the CaCO3 System in the Oceans

    This paper is not behind an AAAS paywall. It’s available with the free membership option.

    The calcite saturation depth is largely unchanged. The aragonite saturation depth has become a bit shallower in a few places. The saturation depths of aragonite and calcite are not the same thing as the CCD or lysocline.

    Water that is under-saturated in aragonite and/or calcite was thought to be problematic for carbonate shell building creatures. Checkly, Iglesias-Rodriguez, Pelejero and now Ries (and all of their et al’s) have pretty well shown that carbonate shell building creatures aren’t bothered very much by aragonite and calcite or elevated CO2 levels.

  207. David Middleton says:

    Correction to David Middleton (15:03:42) :

    Checkly, Iglesias-Rodriguez, Pelejero and now Ries (and all of their et al’s) have pretty well shown that carbonate shell building creatures aren’t bothered very much by aragonite and calcite saturation states or elevated CO2 levels.

  208. Geosota says:

    Chuck –

    Thanks for clearing that up. You had done a pretty good job of upending my long-held understanding of the term “inorganic”. This time, you had me pretty concerned about the chemistry of fossil fuel combustion.

    If you don’t mind, would you clear up something for me? It’s about calcium. Much of this thread has been about the effects of inorganic carbon (see, I’m learning) in the shells of the oceans’ bottom-dwellers. These critters grab calcium from the water and deposit it in the fossil-record, kind of like coin collectors taking money out of circulation. Where is the new calcium coming from?

    I really do appreciate the clarity you bring to this thread and wanted to check out what else you may have written. Unsuccessful. Can you throw me a link to something?

    George

  209. Chris says:

    Not to step on Dr. Booth’s toes, but I just thought I’d resond to this question:

    Much of this thread has been about the effects of inorganic carbon (see, I’m learning) in the shells of the oceans’ bottom-dwellers. These critters grab calcium from the water and deposit it in the fossil-record, kind of like coin collectors taking money out of circulation. Where is the new calcium coming from?

    Most new Ca++ supplied to the ocean is brought in by rivers. As calcium-silicate minerals, carbonates, etc. undergo chemical weathering on land they dissolve into freshwater, end up in rivers, and then in the ocean. There is also input from hydrothermal systems.

    While most of the carbonates produced in shelf/bank systems (where the ocean floor is not very deep) accumulate over the short term, but in much of the ocean (i.e., where the seafloor is deeper than the CCD) the carbonates redissolve before they have a chance to accumulate. Hence, much of the production is balanced by dissolution deeper in the water column. The accumulation is balanced by weathering that occurs on land and hydrothermal input.

    Over longer timescales the accumulated shallow-water carbonates tend to end up above sea level (either due to uplift or lower sea level, or both) and ultimately get weathered, hence becoming a source to the ocean.

    On very, very long timescales, the entire surface of the planet gets reworked/recycled ;-)

  210. yonason says:

    Chuck Booth (13:52:35) :

    “Long term monitoring studies of the open ocean are surely more reliable.”

    Why?

    If anything, I would expect water nearer the source of the CO2 “contamination” to be more reflective of pH change, than a remote patch of ocean. As such, if I don’t see any affect in the bay, the likelihood that I will see it in some remote patch of ocean seems low.

    I’m not saying not to look, but with what I see from the bay, you’re going to have to sell me on your techniques and your lack of bias before I even look at your conclusions.

    “Any oceanographer would tell you that there is considerable spatial and temporal variation in ocean chemistry, esp. between coastal waters and the open ocean.”

    I referenced that variability in previous posts, so what are you adding? Also, I would guess the chemistry of any bay is far closer to ocean chemistry than a few small aquaria in any lab.

    I googled Sabine et al., and came up with this:
    http://www.tos.org/oceanography/issues/issue_archive/issue_pdfs/17_3/17.3_scor_ioc.pdf

    If you look at the top of page 73 you will see a comparison of AIR vs SEA. Note that they have drawn a scary green line through the SEA data to show how it is increasing. T

    he problem, though, is that the “increase ” does not seem very impressive. From 1990 to 1995 it’s virtually constant, with an increase in 1995, followed by a slow decrease from 1995 to 1998.

    Also, note that he does not start or end his graph from any median point. His first data point is a low, and he ends it on a high. That’s either just sloppy (at best), dishonest at worst, rivaling the stuff coming out of CRU. Based on that graph alone, I have ample reason not to trust any of his other work.

    If you’ve got anything better, please show it. And please don’t make me go digging for it, but give me references I can access from a link, if possible.

  211. Geosota says:

    Chris –

    Thanks for taking the time to educate me. Obviously, I am a landlubber & appreciate you and the people on this thread taking me beneath the waves.

    People ask me my opinion about science stuff every day. I want to provide good info, of course, as best I can. The current hot topic is “climate change”. My position needs to take shape fairly quickly and I’d like to put my current thinking out here for comment pro and con. Believe me, if I am out to lunch, I want to know.

    1. Regarding the health of the planet, the oceans are more important than the atmosphere, both in terms of mass and quantity of life.

    2. Yes, the atmosphere has been on a warming trend, maybe not lately, but this is mostly normal fluctuation, not the result of man-made CO2. There’s just not enough of it to make a significant difference compared to other greenhouse stuff, particularly water vapor.

    3. CO2 in the air does impact inorganic carbon in the oceans, however. Here, we could get our collective butts in deep doodoo.

    4. Inorganic carbon in the oceans is nowhere near the “tipping point”. Yet.

    5. The call for immediate action on CO2 emissions should be replaced with a long-term strategy of CO2 reduction, such as nuclear power plant construction and electrification of the vehicle fleet and home heating.

    Once again, I appreciate the candor and rigor of this thread. Please agree or disagree. As always, my offer to “cook the data” for anyone who lands a research grant involving the sacrifice of lobsters (crabs or clams) stands.

    Thanks,

    George

  212. Chris says:

    George,

    Glad to be of help.

    1. Regarding the health of the planet, the oceans are more important than the atmosphere, both in terms of mass and quantity of life.

    The first thing I’d say is, I’m not sure how one would define “the health of the planet.” We can measure particular variables that would probably be important in this calculation: rates of species extinction and origination, biodiversity, particular ecosystem services, primary and higher order rates of production, etc. ad nauseum (and some of these things get very hard to determine indeed), but how does one produce a useful metric signifying “the health of the planet” out of those data? It makes sense to talk about things like changes in and prospect of the future of ecosystem services, biodiversity, etc., but I’m not sure those can really be lumped together to produce a single indicator for the “health of the planet”.

    The oceans contain a lot more DIC, water, heat, etc. than the atmosphere, but the two are a dynamic system (along with terrestrial and oceanic sediments, over long timescales). To say one is more important than the other is a bit like saying a persons lungs are more important than their heart. Changes in one necessarily effect changes in the other. Since we live in the atmosphere and rely heavily on the ocean for a variety of resources, we have a substantial stake in what happens in both.

    2. Yes, the atmosphere has been on a warming trend, maybe not lately, but this is mostly normal fluctuation, not the result of man-made CO2. There’s just not enough of it to make a significant difference compared to other greenhouse stuff, particularly water vapor.

    The atmosphere and ocean have been warming for decades (including this past decade) and this warming is outside of the range of natural variability (in other words, the climate really has been warming). The only explanation adequate to explain why the climate has warmed in the last several decades (solar activity + volcanic eruptions should have produced cooling in the last 30 yrs) is an enhanced greenhouse effect. Any climatologists (John Christy, Roy Spencer, Pat Michaels, etc. included) would agree.

    3. CO2 in the air does impact inorganic carbon in the oceans, however. Here, we could get our collective butts in deep doodoo.

    The ocean and atmosphere form a dynamic system wherein CO2 (and other gases, aerosols, etc.) are exchanged back and forth. If you release a gas into either the atmosphere or the ocean the two will two continue to exchange and approach a new equilibrium. Adding CO2 to the atmosphere results in more CO2 in the atmosphere and the ocean (and likely terrestrial sinks as well, though that depends strongly on other factors as well). Minerals on land are also important in the long term (thousands to hundreds of thousands of yrs).

    There’s definitely the potential for getting ourselves in pretty deep doodoo given that many organisms respond negatively ocean acidification. As can be seen in this study, the responses are not simple and vary among groups of organisms, possibly even among genotypes (seen in other studies) and depending on some other environmental conditions (e.g., temp., nutrient supply; seen in other studies). While some organisms seem to do just fine in CO2 enriched seawater, many, many others are seriously harmed.

    As Dr. Ries mentions in the press release, predicting precisely how ecosystems will be affected by these changes is difficult at this point: some organisms don’t seem to be directly affected by CO2 enrichment of seawater while others are clearly harmed. Since ecosystems depend on complex interactions among organisms and their environment it seems clear that ecosystems will be altered by OA. Given that certain commercially important species or their prey are negatively affected by OA (various studies), some ecosystems are likely to change in ways that have negative effects on human society.

    4. Inorganic carbon in the oceans is nowhere near the “tipping point”. Yet.

    I don’t think I understand what you mean. A tipping point to what effect/condition?

    5. The call for immediate action on CO2 emissions should be replaced with a long-term strategy of CO2 reduction, such as nuclear power plant construction and electrification of the vehicle fleet and home heating.

    I’m not sure I see the distinction you’re making: immediate action toward reducing CO2 emissions by adopting a long-term strategy of CO2 reduction (using the methods you mention and more) would be a very wise move to safeguard a plethora of resources important to human society.

    Hope that helps,

    Chris

  213. Chris says:

    “Long term monitoring studies of the open ocean are surely more reliable.”

    Why?

    If anything, I would expect water nearer the source of the CO2 “contamination” to be more reflective of pH change, than a remote patch of ocean. As such, if I don’t see any affect in the bay, the likelihood that I will see it in some remote patch of ocean seems low.

    Bays and other nearshore (especially enclosed) water masses are going to be significantly influenced by terrestrial processes occuring on the adjacent land, and therefore may not be representative of very much of the ocean. Similarly, taking nutrient samples at the end of a sewage pipe dumping into the ocean doesn’t necessarily tell you much about the nutrient concentrations most everywhere else. Estuaries like Monterrey Bay are typically quite different from most oceanic water in almost every measurable parameter.

    I’m not saying not to look, but with what I see from the bay, you’re going to have to sell me on your techniques and your lack of bias before I even look at your conclusions.

    See the DOE handbook for basic analytical techniques: http://andrew.ucsd.edu/co2qc/handbook.html

    As for selling you on ones lack of bias, what would you suggest? It seems as though you’ve made up your mind already that results you dislike, regardless of their quality or informative power, are the result of “bias” while those you do like, regardless of their quality or informative power, are credible. Am I mistaken?

    “Any oceanographer would tell you that there is considerable spatial and temporal variation in ocean chemistry, esp. between coastal waters and the open ocean.”

    I referenced that variability in previous posts, so what are you adding? Also, I would guess the chemistry of any bay is far closer to ocean chemistry than a few small aquaria in any lab.

    It depends entirely on what the chemistry in the bay and the aquaria actually are and what part of the ocean one is using as a frame of reference. It’s possible to have water quality that, in a variety of measurable parameters, is no different between a bay and a section or the ocean, and between aquaria and a section of the ocean. It is also possible to have bay water or aquarium water that is radically different from particular oceanic water. That, of course, is why one has to measure and report these things, just as Ries et al. did, and just as everyone in every study ever published has done. OF COURSE you have to know what the water chemistry is like in a variety of ways, otherwise any data derived are useless and (almost certainly) wouldn’t get published in the first place.

    I googled Sabine et al., and came up with this:
    http://www.tos.org/oceanography/issues/issue_archive/issue_pdfs/17_3/17.3_scor_ioc.pdf

    If you look at the top of page 73 you will see a comparison of AIR vs SEA. Note that they have drawn a scary green line through the SEA data to show how it is increasing.

    DIC in the surface ocean *is* increasing. The data shown here is just a snippet of the data available today that demonstrates it. The figure shows the effect being addressed—it isn’t meant to be an exhaustive summary, after all, it’s just a meeting report. Also, it looks like this popped up simply because Sabine et al. 2004 is a cited reference.

    Among the datasets that show the longterm increase in DIC in the shallow ocean are those derived at the HOT station, the BATS station, ESTOC, the WOCE cruises, etc. See Sabine et al. 2004. Science for a discussion, for example.

    The problem, though, is that the “increase ” does not seem very impressive. From 1990 to 1995 it’s virtually constant, with an increase in 1995, followed by a slow decrease from 1995 to 1998.

    The data are what they are. The rate of increase of DIC is right in line with what is expected over this period and is more clearly documented in the current, longer HOT dataset (the figure shows the first 10 yrs as it was published yrs ago—the dataset is now ~21 yrs old) as well as other longterm datasets (BATS, ESTOC) and cruise compilations (e.g., WOCE).

    Also, note that he does not start or end his graph from any median point. His first data point is a low, and he ends it on a high. That’s either just sloppy (at best), dishonest at worst, rivaling the stuff coming out of CRU. Based on that graph alone, I have ample reason not to trust any of his other work.

    The graph starts with the beginning of the time series and ends with, what was at the time of analysis, the most current data (we’ve got another decade worth of data at this point).

    So you’re saying that because Bates (2002) plotted all of the available data, which just so happen to have a relatively low initial value and high last value, he’s being either sloppy or dishonest? Plotting all the available data (at the time) gives you ample reason not to trust his work???

    Can you see why criticisms like this get dismissed as nonsense? Your argument is tantemount to arguing someone deserves a speeding ticket for driving 5 mph under.

    If you’ve got anything better, please show it. And please don’t make me go digging for it, but give me references I can access from a link, if possible.

    HOT: http://hahana.soest.hawaii.edu/hot/hot_jgofs.html

    BATS: http://bats.bios.edu/

    ESTOC: http://www.eurosites.info/estoc.php

    WOCE: http://woce.nodc.noaa.gov/wdiu/

    See the above sites for data and a plethora of references.

    Chris

  214. yonason says:

    Chris (03:14:14) :

    “…taking nutrient samples at the end of a sewage pipe dumping into the ocean… “
    The graph in my reference was for INCOMING seawater in which all their ocean (not bay) organisms would be growing, not outgoing sewage.
    “Monterey Bay Aquarium Incoming Seawater,”
    Did you even look at the paper?

    “DIC in the surface ocean *is* increasing. The data shown here is just a snippet of the data available today that demonstrates it.”

    But it does NOT “demonstrate it,” Chris, for the reasons I mentioned. Look at the graph and play the same trick (just like CRU) they played. Remove the first 6 data points, and the last 3, so instead of leading with a low and ending on a high they lead with a high and end on a low. Of course, that would be just as dishonest as what they’ve done. If that’s the best they’ve got, it’s a pretty flimsy case.

    Thanks for all the other links. I’ll take a look at them. In the meantime, you haven’t made your case.

  215. David Middleton says:

    Chris (01:58:48) :

    [...]

    2. Yes, the atmosphere has been on a warming trend, maybe not lately, but this is mostly normal fluctuation, not the result of man-made CO2. There’s just not enough of it to make a significant difference compared to other greenhouse stuff, particularly water vapor.

    The atmosphere and ocean have been warming for decades (including this past decade) and this warming is outside of the range of natural variability (in other words, the climate really has been warming). The only explanation adequate to explain why the climate has warmed in the last several decades (solar activity + volcanic eruptions should have produced cooling in the last 30 yrs) is an enhanced greenhouse effect. Any climatologists (John Christy, Roy Spencer, Pat Michaels, etc. included) would agree.

    Outside of the range of natural variability? Only if you’re using broken hockey sticks as a frame of reference for natural variability.

    Moberg et al., 2005 reconstructed “Northern Hemisphere temperatures for the past 2,000 years by combining low-resolution proxies with tree-ring data, using a wavelet transform technique to achieve timescale-dependent processing of the data.” Moberg’s reconstruction clearly shows the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age.

    Appending the UAH Lower Troposphere temperatures on to the end (1978) of Moberg’s 2,000-year reconstruction yields this… Moberg and UAH. Without applying error bars or a range of uncertainty to Moberg’s Medieval Warm Period, exactly on year (1998) in the instrumental record falls outside of the MWP range of natural variability. A reasonable error bar would even put 1998 back into the range of natural variability.

    A comparison of HadCRUt3 (1850-2008) to Moberg’s MWP (740-900) shows that the rate and magnitude of warming in both periods were nearly identical… Moberg MWP and HadCRUT3

    I’ve read a couple of Pat Michaels’ books and Roy Spencer’s book… I don’t recall either of them saying that modern climate changes are outside the range of natural variability. As a geoscientist, I know that they are well within the range of natural variability.

    3. CO2 in the air does impact inorganic carbon in the oceans, however. Here, we could get our collective butts in deep doodoo.

    The ocean and atmosphere form a dynamic system wherein CO2 (and other gases, aerosols, etc.) are exchanged back and forth. If you release a gas into either the atmosphere or the ocean the two will two continue to exchange and approach a new equilibrium. Adding CO2 to the atmosphere results in more CO2 in the atmosphere and the ocean (and likely terrestrial sinks as well, though that depends strongly on other factors as well). Minerals on land are also important in the long term (thousands to hundreds of thousands of yrs).

    [...]

    As Dr. Ries mentions in the press release, predicting precisely how ecosystems will be affected by these changes is difficult at this point: some organisms don’t seem to be directly affected by CO2 enrichment of seawater while others are clearly harmed. Since ecosystems depend on complex interactions among organisms and their environment it seems clear that ecosystems will be altered by OA. Given that certain commercially important species or their prey are negatively affected by OA (various studies), some ecosystems are likely to change in ways that have negative effects on human society.

    [...]

    Maybe you should try reading the actual paper. Only 2 (soft clams and oysters) of 18 species experienced a significant decline in calcification rate at 2X pre-industrial CO2 (606 ppmv); even then the mean calcification rate was within the range of current rate for oysters. No significant dissolution occurred for any species below 1,000 ppmv CO2.

    Furthermore, these species were suddenly subjected to simulated high CO2 levels and low Ωaragonite for 60 days. At the current rate of human CO2 emissions (~8 Gt/yr), it will take more than 100 years for CO2 levels to rise to 600 ppmv, assuming that all of the annual rise in CO2 since 1960 is anthropogenic. The oceans and creatures living in the oceans will have a bit longer to adjust than this experiment allowed. Of course, if plant stomata-derived CO2 levels are correct, century-scale CO2 changes of 60 to 80 ppmv are not uncommon and CO2 levels of 360 to 390 ppmv have not been unusual during Holocene and Recent warm periods. In other words, if the plant SI are right, carbonate shell building critters have dealt with this sort of thing before over the last 15,000 years.

  216. yonason says:

    For those referencing Ian Plimer, here he reveals what else they are hiding, besides the decline.

    That’s just the first of 5, which you should also find there.

    There really is no human caused global warming. The whole thing is a scam, as climategate has exposed.

  217. commonsense says:

    It is a good study.
    Some organism benefit from high C02 leveles, but OTHERS WERE SERIOUSLY HARMED.

    Why you don’t undestand the Big Picture?
    This is changing the oceans. Always with change there are winners and losers.
    This could disrupt the food chain, as in the example above:

    ” For example, the crab exhibited improved shell-building capacity, and its prey, the clams, showed reduced calcification. “This may initially suggest that crabs could benefit from this shift in predator-pray dynamics. But without shells, clams may not be able to sustain their populations, and this could ultimately impact crabs in a negative way, as well,” Ries said

    That is a small but good example of a food chain possible disruption.

    If you go to the Casino, and a statistician says to you:
    What you are doing is dangerous:
    _70% probability of have a gain of 40% in your money invested.
    _30% probability of losing all, and that will mean that the mafia will kill your entire family as a form of extortion. You, and all your descent will be enslaved for the entire life to the gangsters.

    If you are a mimimally decent, moral and responsible person you will inmediately exit the Casino.

    You, instead , as the big Propaganda Guys of the Big Money-Big Oil-Big Coal Mafia, are trying to convince us of endarger our entire family (the human species and ultimately all forms of advanced life in our planet), betting that there is no 100% security of an impeding catastrophe.

    You are really, really morally depravated people.

    Even an 1% chance of a global catastrophe should be enough to eliminate carbon emissions.
    Will you go to sleep relaxed is you know is an 1% chance of finding a viper snake in your bed?

    You are asking to ingnore a danger much greater, being conservative,
    it is a 60% chance of causing the worst holocaust in human history!

    Think a bit. Your massacre will likely be far worse than the worst of the worst massacres in human history. It is likely that in future history your acts will dwarf the massacres of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and all that madmen that caused more than 100 million deaths in last century!

    You could kill not millions, but BILLIONS!

    Are you ready for that?

    Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Queen Victoria, KKKs, all are waiting for you in Hell!

    But you can still change your path, you can still be good people.
    And remeber that Jesus Crist said “in Heaven there is more happiness for a single converted sinner than for thousands of good people that don’t need to regret anything”

    We, the people that are fighting to save the planet, follow this philosophy. We will welcome anyone that opened his eyes and stopped supporting the Suicidal Path of the Big Business.

  218. yonason says:

    Yeah, commonsense (15:54:47), I have to admit, I think I see where you’re coming from Stay tuned so you can keep us up to date, ok.

  219. waterrocks says:

    Link to research paper (provided toll-free courtesy of GEOLOGY):
    http://geology.geoscienceworld.org/cgi/content/full/37/12/1131?ijkey=O79jdQYUdBqN2&keytype=ref&siteid=gsgeology

    Prof. Ries’ website:
    http://www.unc.edu/~jries/

    Related press coverage:
    http://www.unc.edu/~jries/press.html

    NPR – All Things Considered (interview):
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=121378547

  220. David Middleton says:

    I wonder if I can get a refund of the $25 I spent to buy the paper…

  221. David Middleton says:

    From the NPR interview…

    Lobsters, crabs and shrimp did well in the environment, according to Ries, but other things didn’t — corals and other “calcifiers” like clams, scallops and oysters, for example. Unlike the lobsters, these species’ shells grew thinner in the increased CO2 environments. “Actually, six of these species began to dissolve under the highest CO2 level,” Ries says.

    Both corals in the paper did fine at elevated CO2 levels. Coralline red algae had higher calcification rates at 606 and 903 ppmv and the same range of calcification rates at 2856 ppmv. Temperate coral showed no decline until CO2 was above 909 ppmv.

    The only species that showed a significant decline at 606 ppmv was soft clams. No species exhibited significant dissolution until CO2 levels were above 903 ppmv.

    It’s also important to note that CO2 was not the only parameter that was varied. Aragonite saturation was also varied; assuming an inverse linear relationship with CO2. According to Figure 3 in Feely et al., 2005 the depth of aragonite under-saturation has shoaled (become more shallow) in a few areas since pre-industrial times; but in other places it hasn’t changed.

  222. jgk3 says:

    Anyone who deals in water chemistry would have predicted these results. Aqueous solutions of carbon dioxide, bicarbonate ion and carbonate ion are all variations on the same theme–dissolved CO2

    Many industrial plants have found that when they tried to use CO2 in place of mineral acids for pH control, the formation calcium carbonate scale in cooling water sytems was unchanged. This is because the equilibrium really doesn’t change much as you shift species of dissolved CO2. It’s not surprising that organisms that deposit calcium carbonate in their shells would not see much difference.

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