Oyster crisis: Yale 360 eco-activist author Elizabeth Grossman wrong again about ocean acidification

I remember during my tour of Australia last year, when our talk was rudely interrupted by the king of reef madness, Ove Hugh-Guldberg, my co-presenter David Archibald quipped from the dais, paraphrasing Samuel Johnson, that “ocean acidification is the last refuge of the global warming scoundrel.

Today’s scare story about oysters disappearing due to atmospheric induced ocean acidification is a perfect example of this.

We see this terrifying headline from Yale 360 environmental forum today:

Massive Oyster Die-offs Show Ocean Acidification Has Arrived

The claim is right out of the “ocean acidification is going to kill the entire food chain” playbook, bolding mine:

But this rural coastal spot and the shellfish it has nurtured for centuries are a bellwether of one of the most palpable changes being caused by global carbon dioxide emissions — ocean acidification.

It was here, from 2006 to 2008, that oyster larvae began dying dramatically, with hatchery owners Mark Wiegardt and his wife, Sue Cudd, experiencing larvae losses of 70 to 80 percent. “Historically we’ve had larvae mortalities,” says Wiegardt, but those deaths were usually related to bacteria. After spending thousands of dollars to disinfect and filter out pathogens, the hatchery’s oyster larvae were still dying.

Finally, the couple enlisted the help of Burke Hales, a biogeochemist and ocean ecologist at Oregon State University. He soon homed in on the carbon chemistry of the water. “My wife sent a few samples in and Hales said someone had screwed up the samples because the [dissolved CO2 gas] level was so ridiculously high,” says Wiegardt, a fourth-generation oyster farmer. But the measurements were accurate. What the Whiskey Creek hatchery was experiencing was acidic seawater, caused by the ocean absorbing excessive amounts of CO2 from the air.

The only thing missing is equating oysters to canaries in coal mines. A typical staple of such types of stories. Bellwether was used instead, but you get the idea.

When you have a look at who’s writing this, you see a pattern:

Elizabeth Grossman is the author of Chasing Molecules: Poisonous Products, Human Health, and the Promise of Green Chemistry, High Tech Trash: Digital Devices, Hidden Toxics, and Human Health, and other books. Her work has appeared in Scientific American, Salon, The Washington Post, The Nation, Mother Jones, Grist, and other publications.

In nutshell, with a publication record like that, I wouldn’t trust this woman with any sort of factual writing anymore than I’d trust activist Bill McKibben. So, I went looking to see if her claims held up. It didn’t take long to discover that her claim of “…acidic seawater, caused by the ocean absorbing excessive amounts of CO2 from the air…” was totally bogus.

First I decided to have a look at the Whiskey Creek oyster hatchery itself. It seems it has been touted as a success story:

Note that they are using tanks, with seawater drawn in from the estuary. Grossman bemoans the fact that the water has to be treated for use in the aquaculture tanks. Apparently, atmospheric induced ocean acidification is happening so fast that they just can’t keep up:

The situation at the hatcheries has improved substantially in the past couple of years, thanks largely to an ongoing, intensive scientific monitoring effort and to measures to control the pH of seawater in the tanks where oyster larvae are raised. But ocean acidification continues apace, which makes understanding what’s been happening to Whiskey Creek oysters vital to grasping what will eventually threaten every ocean organism that builds a shell or coral branch.

Yes, it’s relentless and all that. The world’s oceans depend on what’s happening in some aquaculture tanks in Oregon. /sarc

Trying to get past the wailing and gnashing of teeth over some oyster larvae that didn’t make it out of the tanks, we find the source of the issue isn’t new, and was highlighted in a 2009 report at the Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association:

http://www.pcsga.org/pub/science/Emergency_Seed_Proposal_Indesign-1.pdf

Emergency Plan to Save Oyster Production on the West Coast
January, 2009

A Collaborative Proposal Prepared by the Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association, Whiskey Creek Hatchery, Taylor Hatchery, Pacific Shellfish Institute, Willapa-Grays Harbor Oyster Growers Association, Lummi Indian Tribe Hatchery, U.S. Department of Commerce (NOAA Aquaculture Program), Northwest Fisheries Science Center (NOAA), U.S. Department of Agriculture (ARS and CSREES), Oregon State University, AquaTechnics, Inc., and the Nature Conservancy

The Problem:
For the past three years, water quality conditions in the Pacific Ocean off the Oregon and Washington coasts; and adjacent highly productive estuaries including Puget Sound, Willapa Bay, and Netarts Bay, have severely impacted hatchery production of seed oysters upon which both large and small farms depend. Simultaneously, wild sets of oyster seed that make up the back-bone of the oyster industry in Willapa Bay, the single largest oyster producing region on the West Coast, have been virtually non-existent for the past four years.

These conditions have led to dire economic consequences for two of the four hatchery operators that produce oyster seed for farmers, including the largest producer of oyster larvae on the West Coast, Whiskey Creek Hatchery, which accounts for approximately 75% of all larvae utilized by farmers. The environmental conditions contributing to the lack of wild seed set presents an even more challenging problem.

So yes, there’s a real problem, but the issue that’s bogus is the claimed cause: “…acidic seawater, caused by the ocean absorbing excessive amounts of CO2 from the air…”

Um, no. From the same 2009 report, bolding mine:

Identified water quality/hatchery problems:
Shellfish hatcheries have historically used coarsely filtered but otherwise untreated seawater for larval culture with few problems, and larval shellfish have thrived in water in the Pacific Ocean and coastal estuaries. Upwelling of deep, cold, nutrient-rich water from the continental shelf off the coast of Oregon and Washington is typical during summer months in this region and drives high primary productivity.

Since 2003, however, higher than normal upwelling increased the extent and intensity of intrusions of deep acidic, hypoxic water off the Oregon and Washington coasts, and contributed to the formation of persistent dead zones. These events have resulted in fundamental changes in the character of our coastal bays, which contribute to high larval mortality throughout the entire year.

These fundamental changes in seawater quality influence a host of complex chemical interactions, many of which are not fully understood. However, recent research has identified at least four potential stressors that adversely affect shellfish larvae:

• Larval and juvenile shellfish are highly sensitive to acidic (low pH) seawater because their shells are formed from calcium carbonate, and dissolves when pH is low.

Because this hypoxic and relatively acidic up-welled water is coming from deep basins and is cold (8 – 10 oC), it is saturated with dissolved gases such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen while at the same time being low in oxygen as a result of biological decomposition in the benthic zone. When hatcheries heat this gas-saturated seawater to 25 – 28 oC in order to meet the temperature requirements of young shellfish, the seawater becomes super-saturated. Preliminary experiments indicate that oyster larvae are very sensitive to gas super-saturation under these conditions.

• A third problem for shellfish hatcheries is the recent increase in the prevalence of a pathogenic bacterium (Vibrio tubiashii or Vt) that seems to out-compete other, more benign species in this distorted environment. Vt infections are lethal to shellfish larvae and juveniles. High levels of mortality in shellfish hatcheries and in the wild have been associated with high levels of Vt in 2006, 2007, and intermittently in previous years, such as in 1998 when environmental conditions favored disease outbreaks.

• There is potential for further stress to oyster seed given the difference between water conditions in the hatcheries where larvae are produced, and quality of water found in the remote settings where larvae set onto cultch (“mother shell”) are planted in the natural environment for grow-out.

So, in summary the causes are:

1. Deep water upwelling, bringing colder more CO2 saturated water to the surface is the root cause. Colder water holds more CO2, it is basic chemistry.

That deep benthic ocean water doesn’t interact with the atmosphere, but it is brought to the surface by changes in ocean current patterns such as ENSO and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, which have nothing to do with the small (20 Parts Per Million) global increase in atmospheric CO2 in the last decade.

2. Heating of the water to make it suitable for tank aquaculture. They get the soda pop bottle on a warm day effect. The oyster larvae don’t like that. No surprise there.

3. A periodic pathogenic bacterium Vibrio tubiashii which seems to follow ocean patterns. What happened in 1998? Oh yeah, the biggest El Niño in modern times.

4. Stress with relocation into a different water environment. Anybody who has ever bought tropical fish, especially salt water fish, knows this problem.

It seems “…acidic seawater, caused by the ocean absorbing excessive amounts of CO2 from the air…” isn’t in this report.

Let’s have a look at the current ocean surface temperatures around Oregon:

It seems Oregon is smack dab in the middle of a double whammy right now of La Niña and cold phase of the PDO. Recall that in 2008, just before the “Emergency report” was prepared by the Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association there was also a deep La Niña in the Pacific. What did it look like then? Have a look:

Yep, colder. No surprise there.

For completeness I should note there’s a mention of “global warming induced ocean acidification” in the report, but it is ancillary and not listed as a direct cause of the current oyster aquaculture crisis in Oregon.

These adverse environmental conditions – low pH, gas super-saturation, high Vt infections, and the associated complex effects on seawater chemistry – constitute a “perfect storm” for Pacific Northwest shellfish hatcheries and growers that depend on natural set oyster seed, bringing the industry to the brink of collapse. It is not understood how these, and likely other, stressors interact, but it is clear that these factors are somehow combining to decimate shellfish larvae and juveniles. To further illustrate the seriousness of the situation, oceanographers such as Dr. Richard Feely, world-renowned NOAA expert on ocean acidification and global warming, predicts that oceanic conditions will not improve in the near term, potentially rendering shellfish hatcheries inoperable. This, combined with lack of wild seed set, will lead to the collapse of the oyster industry unless mitigation measures are developed and implemented immediately.

Feely’s opinion in this WWF document on ocean acidification seems to be a centered around the weasel word “could”, and concerns the future, rather than the present:

“…ocean acidification could affect some of the most fundamental biological and chemical processes of the sea in coming decades.”

So apparently, the Yale 360 headline claim of Massive Oyster Die-offs Show Ocean Acidification Has Arrived doesn’t agree with the position of the NOAA scientist on the issue.

I wonder though, why a World Wildlife Fund document exists on a NOAA server:

http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/co2/files/thecircle0410.pdf

Given all the tarnish that WWF has put on IPCC in scandal after scandal, I wonder if the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (where Feely works) has also been similarly compromised by deep pocket eco-activism.

And of course the whole Yale 360 article by Elizabeth Grossman is bogus, not only for the fact that the changes in CO2 in the water at Whiskey Creek are driven by changes in ENSO, PDO, and cold water upwelling, but also because what happens in treated aquaculture tanks is not the ocean.

Green might be a good color, but it is also the color of bogus science claims affected by activism these days.

About these ads
This entry was posted in Carbon dioxide, Oceans and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

116 Responses to Oyster crisis: Yale 360 eco-activist author Elizabeth Grossman wrong again about ocean acidification

  1. PhilJourdan says:

    Living in one of the largest oyster harvesting states, we have been hearing about the decline in oysters for many years. However, none was (to date) blamed on ocean acidity. A lot was blamed on fresh water (in watery years when the bay became less salty) and MSX and Dermo – 2 parasites that LOVE oysters.

  2. I sailed the oceans for 43 years, and for a lot of that time we carried out ph tests on the sea water. In all that time I never saw a quantifiable change in ph measurements. This is just junk science.

  3. Latitude says:

    Arm and Hammer, a decent UV, and an off gassing tower…………….

    Standard equipment in any decent hatchery

  4. JJ says:

    Seems like they have their causation chain reversed.

    Rather than blaming the high CO2 content of deep upwelling ocean water on anthropogenic atmospheric CO2, somebody should be figuring out what impact this CO2 rich fossil water is having on atmospheric CO2 …

    Not gonna hold my breath wating for that one. To do so would risk hypoxia and plasma acidification, which some idiot would them blame on ‘global warming’.

  5. Oh My, the Juan de Fuca Ridge had best be banned. All those nasty, acidic, suphide-rich brines spilling into the abyss.

  6. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Anthony, a lovely piece of research. This is why this site works so well, because it reports, with full links to reports and data, the contemporaneous work people go through to track down and pull the props out from under this kind of nonsense. Yale360 is often nothing but hysteria. If I were Yale I’d at least require a) transparency and b) traceable citations for their claims. Not a handwave at the IPCC report, but chapter and verse. Academic freedom is one thing. Codswollop is another.

    w.

  7. Latitude says:

    JJ says:
    November 21, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    Seems like they have their causation chain reversed.

    Rather than blaming the high CO2 content of deep upwelling ocean water on anthropogenic atmospheric CO2, somebody should be figuring out what impact this CO2 rich fossil water is having on atmospheric CO2 …
    ========================
    good point JJ……………………..

  8. philincalifornia says:

    “at the same time that scientists have been measuring alarmingly corrosive water along the Pacific coast.”

    Wow, so when seawater approaches neutrality from a higher pH it becomes alarmingly corrosive??

    Maybe I missed it (and I’m too queasy to read it again) but, other than the graph from Hawaiian waters where the lowest measured pH is around 8.08, did they ever give any pH values?? Ooooopsie, maybe too many people know that above pH 7, it ain’t acidic.

  9. More Soylent Green! says:

    Instead of posting about everything these guys get wrong, just post about what they get right.

    Oh, never mind. You wouldn’t have anything to write about.

  10. Gail Combs says:

    Great detective work Anthony. You must be getting tired of debunking the disinfo after five years, so thankyou.

    I wonder if Mauna Loa will be showing the increase in CO2 or just the usual straight line?

  11. Many scientists argue that numerous changes in the oceans, a consequence of reducing the amount of salt in them.

  12. Al Gore's Holy Hologram says:

    Another chemophobic anti-science homeopath quack doctor

  13. I don’t know how this Grossman person is and what her qualifications are reported to be. If this is any example of the work provided to get what ever degree or diploma she as the granting institution(s) should demand the paper back. Yale 360 are we talking the university or the lock manufacturing company?

  14. Philip Bradley says:

    Great work Anthony.

    I’d add that the Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery is 3.5km from the ocean on an estuary of what appears to be a small short river.

    Rivers can vary greatly in their PH. And the PH of a single river can vary for many reasons, some seasonal, some caused by agricultural or other land use practices.

    There could well be some riverine effect at work as well.

  15. Gordon Oehler says:

    Maybe people interested in oysters should read what is happening on the East Coast. The Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries have long been sources of oyster harvests. The last few decades, though, the oysters began declining. Now for the good news—thanks to the Army Corps of Engineers and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, oysters are making a strong comeback.

    Here are links to a couple of articles on the recovery of oyster beds in the Great Wicomico. It is an amazing story.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/04/science/04oyster.html

    And.

    http://www.vims.edu/newsandevents/topstories/tall_reefs.php

    Here’s a quote from the VIMS site:

    “The Great Wicomico’s re-established population, which the researchers estimate at 184.5 million oysters, is the largest of any native oyster population worldwide. The restored population, which exists on 86.5 acres of reefs, is roughly equivalent to the entire oyster population on all of Maryland’s 270,000 acres of public oyster grounds. The authors calculate that it is 57-times larger than the pre-restoration population; far exceeding the Chesapeake Bay Program’s previously unachieved restoration goal of a 10-fold increase of the 1994 baseline by 2010.”

    I especially like how they estimate the population to four decimal places!

    Both have film clips worth watching.

  16. LazyTeenager says:

    JJ says

    Rather than blaming the high CO2 content of deep upwelling ocean water on anthropogenic atmospheric CO2, somebody should be figuring out what impact this CO2 rich fossil water is having on atmospheric CO2 …
    ——-
    But they are not saying the high CO2 content is due to man-made CO2. That deep ocean CO2 could be decades to centuries old.

  17. John M says:

    Many scientists argue that numerous changes in the oceans, a consequence of reducing the amount of salt in them.

    Where’d the salt go?

  18. Jeff B. says:

    The human hating scaremongers will throw any anthropogenic hysteria then can at the wall and hope it sticks.

    The arrogance is breathtaking. Earth and the Sun are in control. We are essentially non-existent on the planet surviving in but a tiny percentage of habitable area, and they try to tell us that we have as profound an impact as a Sun or the Pacific ocean. BS. Pure and simple.

    If you need a reason to vote R in 2012. This is one of many.

  19. LazyTeenager says:

    I agree that linking the oyster fisheries problems to AGW is wrong.
    But does skeptic land now agree:
    1. that decreased pH can affect shellfish growth
    2. that deep ocean waters can have a sufficiently low pH to affect shell fish growth

    Or do you still want to hang off on that one just to be perverse?

  20. Stephen Skinner says:

    On page 11 of thecircle0410.pdf is a graph showing increasing CO2 and the decreasing Ocean pH, or rather decreasing Alkalinity. The left hand scale of pH 0.15 is quite fine and if projecting the graph out a neutral pH is not reached until around 2230. So the oceans will become Acidic in around 2230, after they have passed through neutral. However, if the projected pattern of change is correct, then the rate of pH change will become vertiginous, especially after 2150 when it passes pH 7.65 and carries on down to pH7.0 in about 80 years. With this rate of change it will become academic whether it is Alkaline or Acidic. Is this what will happen and how reliable is it projecting graphs out into the future? Isn’t that what was done just prior to the current economic disaster?

  21. Lawrie Ayres says:

    You can understand the need for alarmist articles. The troops morale must be way down with failure after failure of projections based on dodgy science and bad models. The climate appears to be quite natural and the Chinese think man has very little to do with any change. CO2 was touted as the worlds worst enemy so it must have some effect somewhere, why not the ocean?

  22. DirkH says:

    I was just looking at sks to see whether they parrot the oyster meme; they don’t, but I found something quite amusing. One of those old cybernetic diagrams that are prone to chaotic oscillations, Fig. 4 on this page:

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/more_wind_and_waves.html

    “Our findings demonstrate that shifts in climate-driven disturbances that affect foundation species are likely to have impacts that cascade through entire ecosystems.”

    Yeah, you can have a lot of fun with these diagrams. I thought they went extinct in the 80ies.

    Academia is such a timeless hellhole.

  23. 1DandyTroll says:

    So, essentially, in the real world it is actually man’s sticky fingers for trying to manipulate nature for profit and so because the profit is the most important thing, why not blame it on man made global warming and try and rake in profit from new revenue streams.

  24. DirkH says:

    LazyTeenager says:
    November 21, 2011 at 1:45 pm
    “But they are not saying the high CO2 content is due to man-made CO2. That deep ocean CO2 could be decades to centuries old.”

    Let me help you.
    “Massive Oyster Die-offs Show Ocean Acidification Has Arrived [...]
    But this rural coastal spot and the shellfish it has nurtured for centuries are a bellwether of one of the most palpable changes being caused by global carbon dioxide emissions — ocean acidification.”

  25. John M says:

    Lazy teenager,

    Do you think the ocean surface waters will ever get hypoxic and super saturated from atmospheric CO2?

    I hope I’m not insulting your work ethic by asking.

  26. Theo Goodwin says:

    An excellent example of research. Thanks. I wonder if the CAGW people will ever do something along these lines?

  27. JJ says:

    LazyTeenager says:
    November 21, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    But they are not saying the high CO2 content is due to man-made CO2.

    Perhaps you missed this bit:

    What the Whiskey Creek hatchery was experiencing was acidic seawater, caused by the ocean absorbing excessive amounts of CO2 from the air.

    It was bold the first time, too.

  28. Michael says:

    Interesting article but it ignores the portion of the story discussing what is occuring outside of oyster nursery situations:
    “For the past six years, wild oysters in Willapa Bay, Washington, have failed to reproduce successfully because corrosive waters have prevented oyster larvae from forming shells. Wild oysters in Puget Sound and off the east coast of Vancouver Island also have experienced reproductive failure because of acidic waters. Other wild oyster beds in the Pacific Northwest have sustained losses in recent years at the same time that scientists have been measuring alarmingly corrosive water along the Pacific coast.”

  29. John-X says:

    “..When you have a look at who’s writing this, you see a pattern:”

    I see “Undeniable Truth of Life” #24, but maybe that’s just me

  30. Hoser says:

    LA Times story:
    http://articles.latimes.com/2008/jul/13/local/me-oysters13

    Apparently, their problems are not new. They are breeding oysters radically different from wild types. The story claims they’ve bred oysters with no sex organs. Not sure how that works…. They finally get to the root cause. No, nothing the breeders did. Here’s the claim -

    The Vibrio blooms appear to be linked to warmer waters in estuaries and the oxygen-starved “dead zones” that have showed up this decade off the coast of Oregon and Washington, researchers said.

    These low-oxygen waters correlate with stronger winds coming from a warming planet.

    Uh, low oxygen AND stronger winds?
    Wind => waves => mixing => oxygenation

    And adding to their credibility, ya gotta love the grammar of the Times.

    Also, I am glad this Vibrio is not cholera.

  31. Ron says:

    We are witnessing the death rattle of the climate change cognoscenti.

  32. Mr Green Genes says:

    philincalifornia says:
    November 21, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    “at the same time that scientists have been measuring alarmingly corrosive water along the Pacific coast.”

    Wow, so when seawater approaches neutrality from a higher pH it becomes alarmingly corrosive??

    But, but … haven’t you had a coast road collapse into the sea somewhere near Los Angeles? All that acidic seawater has clearly eaten it away. It’s worse than we thought.

    /sarc

  33. Owen says:

    You mean there are people trying to produce oysters in captivity that aren’t carefully monitoring the water they are putting into the tanks? What kind of fly by night operations are they running? I have a small hydroponic garden and I monitor the water sprayed on the tomato roots and that is just for a few hobby plants. Seems like you would want to know the water chemistry of something that is worth millions as a harvested crop as a matter of routine – electronic water testers for any number or chemicals/properties really aren’t that expensive.

  34. Stephen Skinner says:

    Michael says:
    November 21, 2011 at 2:33 pm
    Interesting article but it ignores the portion of the story discussing what is occuring outside of oyster nursery situations:
    “……….reproductive failure because of acidic waters. Other wild oyster beds in the Pacific Northwest have sustained losses in recent years at the same time that scientists have been measuring alarmingly corrosive water along the Pacific coast.”

    Hold on a minute. If pH is dropping then the Oceans will become less and less corrosive until they pass neutral. And then they will get more corrosive if pH continues on the acidic side of the pH scale. Until then and right now the Oceans are becoming less corrosive.

  35. Allencic says:

    As I do with most of the pseudo-environmental writers like Elizabeth Grossman I was able to find her educational background. On the Sierra Club website it says she has a B.A. in Literature from Yale. Like so many of the enviros who claim to have some credibility (such as Carole Browner, Bill McKibben, etc.) to tell us how to lead our lives she has virtually no scientific education. The only appropriate response to no-nothings like Elizabeth is, leave us alone you moron.

  36. Caleb says:

    I’ve always been fascinated by those deep sea vents. One thing that submarine cameras showed puzzled me. The pressure was so great at that depth that CO2 dribbled from volcanic cracks as a liquid, (CO2 is liquid under pressure, even at room temperature; for example inside a fire extinguisher.) The liquid CO2 disolved into the sea water, which I imagine would make the the local ph quite high. However right in the same area were some of those deep sea clams that live by vents. Why didn’t their shells disolve?

  37. Alex the skeptic says:

    Isn’t ocean water alkaline? The PH of the oceans is around 8.So why do we use the term acidification? How much more CO2 has to be dissolved in the ocean waters for this to become neutral at PH 7?

  38. Gixxerboy says:

    Oysters and other shellfish doing just fine here in New Zealand. Only problems come from nitrgogen run-off or sewage spills in storms, when near farmland or habitation. Those are the environmental problems we should be focusing on.

  39. Pat Frank says:

    If their problem is cold anoxic CO2-rich bottom water, their solution is a pre-aeration tank.

    Just bubbling air through the cold water should see the dissolved CO2 quickly reach the surface water equilibrium concentration, and the water pH rise and stabilize at the usual 8.1 or so. The expense of aeration should be small compared to buying the BTUs they already expend heating the inflow water.

  40. More Soylent Green! says:
    November 21, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    “Instead of posting about everything these guys get wrong, …”

    And “these guys” would be which guys? Please be more specific.

  41. wayne says:

    Anthony, that’s a great piece of investigation there.

    Can’t believe Yale would allow such a piece on their site associated with the universities name with so many falsehoods and deceptions contained within. But the ivy league schools have been so contaminated by these anthropogenic “climate scientists” and “environmental” activists, I don’t see them ever coming back.

    But we can all be thankful there is WUWT, bringing in the facts.

  42. David Falkner says:

    Wait, if the water that is welling up, and then warming, is rich in CO2…..

  43. Most of the existing deep ocean water is at pH levels that cause alarmism if measured at the surface. From this diagram, at 55 deg N, you have to move water only 100m upwards to get pH 7.3.
    http://www.geoffstuff.com/OceanpH.jpg
    Given that waters mix naturally, how much “ocean acidification” is caused naturally? And how do you separate it from the effects of CO2 in the air?

  44. Dr K.A. Rodgers says:

    I was cleaning up my bookshelves yesterday. Came across Konrad B. Krauskopf’s “Introduction to geochemistry”. It has a couple of chapters on carbonate equilibria in natural solutions, especially seawater. It is a great treatment. I recommend it to anyone still pondering this matter. I used it as basis of lectures I gave for nigh on 40 years on the subject. I suspect most of these folk pontificating on the acidifcation of sewater don’t know any solution chemistry, let alone what a buffer is (seawater is a powerful one) nor that the pH scale is logarithmic.

  45. Steve from Rockwood says:

    “Historically we’ve had larvae mortalities,” says Wiegardt, but those deaths were usually related to bacteria.
    ———————————————————
    It’s not even the ocean. It’s a fish tank full of bacteria. No wonder they’re losing money.
    Soon we’ll be having massive die-offs of farmed salmon”.

  46. JimF says:

    Hmm, let’s see. From the Cambrian to the end of the Cretaceous, geochemical studies indicate the Earth’s atmosphere had far more CO2 than it does today. The studies also indicate that, with the exception of a few multimillion year glacial episodes, the Earth was several degrees warmer than it is today. Life burgeoned throughout most of that time (ca. 0.6 billion years), with the exception of some massive die offs occasioned by who knows what (life soon came roaring back, even more diverse than before the mass extinctions.)

    Now drag out your favorite historical geology textbook and check out the stratigraphic columns that are chosen to illustrate the several geologic periods. What is the most abundant type of rock deposited throughout all that time? Chances are you will conclude that it’s limestone (or dolomite, which starts out as limestone). Limestone is easily dissolved by low-strength acid, like vinegar.

    How come these conditions didn’t turn the ocean into a dead zone? How come aragonitic and calcitic mollusk shells (and for that matter, coral reefs a quarter mile high) are found in profusion in the sediments deposited under those conditions? Seems to me some of these doomsayers should be asked how our CO2-impoverished, cold environment can be so fraught with danger relative to the geologic history of the planet.

  47. newtlove says:

    (After 2 hurricane remnants blew through)
    BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Way too much of a good thing is officially the cause for a die-off of oysters in the upper Chesapeake. Alex DeMetrick reports too much rain washed away the salty water oysters need to survive.
    http://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2011/11/09/fresh-water-killing-off-oysters-in-upper-chesapeake-bay/

    State biologists have found “concentrated pockets” of dead oysters in the upper Chesapeake Bay, which they blame on a record-high influx of fresh water into the estuary this year. But the die-off appears so far to be limited to two areas north of the Bay Bridge, officials note, which together account for just 2 percent of the state’s overall oyster harvest.
    http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2011-11-09/features/bs-gr-oyster-kill-report-20111109_1_oyster-harvest-bay-oyster-bars-dead-oysters

  48. Ric Werme says:

    The Manchester Union Leader yesterday (I guess that makes it the NH Sunday News) had a nice story on the return of the oyster industry to Great Bay after years of sewage and other nitrogen pollution. It’s a “Only in Print” article, the tease and a couple photos are at
    http://www.unionleader.com/article/20111121/NEWS15/711219977

    Personally, I prefer clams on the half shell. They’re usually easier to open. Then there was the one I tried opening with the point of a paring knife at 3 AM one morning (for breakfast!). I was thinking that was a stupid thing to do just as the knife slipped.

    There are reasons for clam knives and chain mail gloves for oysters….

  49. Frank K. says:

    “Her work has appeared in Scientific American, Salon, The Washington Post, The Nation, Mother Jones, Grist, and other publications.”

    So, how many other tabloids has work appeared in? Maybe this is the new climate science “peer review”! [heh]

  50. Allencic says:

    Dr. K. A. Rodgers,

    You’ve made my point. These characters like Ms. Grossman couldn’t begin to understand a classic like Krauskopf’s geochem book and yet within that book are all the explanations needed to debunk this ocean “acidification” crap.

    As an aside, I worked for thirty years with another geology professor I greatly respected who grew up as Krauskopf’s next door neighbor.

  51. Hoser says:

    Frank K. says:
    November 21, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    Yes, and it could be posted on the wall over a urinal for a while where it can be reviewed by several peers. OK. I’ll go away now.

  52. JimF says:

    @Dr K.A. Rodgers says:
    November 21, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    @Allencic says:
    November 21, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    Dr. Konrad Krauskopf (“Connie”) was a great scientist and terrific professor. His book is a classic. I’m so pleased to hear him mentioned respectfully here. He puts to shame these modern “geologists” prostituting themselves (and their professions) in this grant-fueled global warming scam.

  53. eyesonu says:

    Anthony, as usual, you have performed a complete SMACKDOWN !

    These people will never learn.

  54. eyesonu says:

    Ahh, I should have added ‘and more smackdown’ coming from the commenters, again, as usual.

  55. Jeff B. said:
    November 21, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    If you need a reason to vote R in 2012, this is one of many.
    ————————————–
    Rather than blindly voting R, vote Conservative. Many Rs are dupes of the global warming hoax, eg: Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman, Fred Karger, Gary Johnson, Rich Perry, Newt Gingrich (depending upon whether he is flipping or flopping at the moment).

  56. kim says:

    When ocean acidification gets buffered out, it’ll be species diversity. When that’s revealed as a bogus scare it’ll be something else. Damn, people, why won’t the guilt stick to you?
    =======================

  57. J. Felton says:

    Apparently the people who rush to judge the oyster die-offs as a result of ocean acidification have completely forgot, ( or thrown out ) the KISS method: Keep It Simple, Stupid. Why look at something entirely plausible, ( and possible) such as current changes and bacteria, ( which anyone who works in the fishing or seafood industry should know about,) when you can blame it on AGW, and get your article published in the ” News of the World”? ( Or Un-Scientific American, in this case.)
    I grew up on the West Coast of BC, ocean acidification is the last thing I’m worried about.

    Oh, and Smokey,

    Thanks for those links! I used to have them bookmarked, but seemed to have lost them. Thanks again for re-supplying them. I know a man who’s taking oceanography at my local U, and he still believes in the acidification phenomenon. This should make him think.

  58. Hu McCulloch says:

    According to two recent survey articles by Dana Royer, for most of the past 550 Million years, atmospheric CO2 was 1000-3000 ppm. So how did all that limestone get laid down?

    (The point estimates go to 5000 ppm or higher, but the measurement error is large. In only two periods did it go below 500 ppm, and those were both cursed with glaciation.)

  59. Pamela Gray says:

    A hatchery is a stationary artificial place for oysters to grow. More than likely, such hatcheries were developed without a full understanding of long term oscillations that naturally resulted in increased/decreased production of sea life. The recent decrease at this hatchery may be mirroring what has occurred naturally when natural oyster beds were harvested. That this recent decrease sends still-wet-behind-the-ears researchers into a twitter pated sweat speaks more of their naiveté than their expertise.

  60. kim2ooo says:

    [ " I wonder though, why a World Wildlife Fund document exists on a NOAA server:

    http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/co2/files/thecircle0410.pdf

    Given all the tarnish that WWF has put on IPCC in scandal after scandal, I wonder if the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (where Feely works) has also been similarly compromised by deep pocket eco-activism. "]

    Good Question:

    Could it be………
    [ "Awards

    Heinz Environmental Award - 2010
    Nobel Peace Prize (co-shared with Al Gore and other members of IPCC) - 2007
    [snip] “]
    http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/co2/story/Richard++A.+Feely,+Ph.D.

  61. Mark and two Cats said:
    November 21, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    Jeff B. said:
    November 21, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    If you need a reason to vote R in 2012, this is one of many.
    ————————————–
    Rather than blindly voting R, vote Conservative. Many Rs are dupes of the global warming hoax, eg: Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman, Fred Karger, Gary Johnson, Rich Perry, Newt Gingrich (depending upon whether he is flipping or flopping at the moment).
    ======================
    Oops – I didn’t mean to include Perry. He believes in amnesty for illegal aliens, but he doesn’t believe in AGW hoax. Sorries.

  62. Hey – I just thought of a good name for Grossman’s movement: Green Oyster Cult :)

    Okay, I’ll clam up now.

  63. J. Felton says:

    I propose a new name – ” OysterGate. ”

    I should trademark that….

  64. David Falkner says:

    I”m sorry, but if the cold water is welling up and rich enough in oxygen to kill things in the biosphere, why ignore it as a possible source of CO2 in the atmosphere? Is the amount of additional CO2 from deeper waters quantified or even estimated or is it just assumed to be irrelevant?

  65. David Falkner says:

    Oh crap.

    …rich enough in oxygen…

    should read:

    …rich enough in CO2

  66. tokyoboy says:

    J. Felton says: November 21, 2011 at 9:26 pm
    “I propose a new name – ” OysterGate. I should trademark that….””

    Calm down mate please. The trademark makes sense if and only if the story finds its way to AR 5.

  67. CRS, Dr.P.H. says:

    I hate to be the poop, but….oceanic acidification seems to be the only provable consequence of carbon dioxide buildup in the atmosphere. I’m a biologist, not a climate scientist. The data for acidification in the uppermost boundary of the oceans (“euphotic zone”) is observed and significant, and the risk could be to oceanic photosynthetic processes, which provide the majority of our oxygen.

    I’ve had plenty of shouting matches about this with many true-believer warmists in person & at RC & also with Willis, but the evidence is convincing. If this is happening, it is quite serious, folks.

    One outcome of the observed widespread pH
    declines (Figures 2 and 4) is an increasingly inhospitable
    environment for calcifying marine plankton, such as pteropods,
    forams, and coccolithophorids. Decreasing pH translates
    directly to decreasing carbonate saturation states. The
    physiological status of these pelagic calcifying organisms
    currently abundant in the North Pacific is therefore likely to
    be adversely impacted [Feely et al., 2004, 2008; Fabry et
    al., 2008].

    GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 37, L02601, doi:10.1029/2009GL040999, 2010
    Direct observations of basin-wide acidification of the North Pacific
    Ocean

    Robert H. Byrne, Sabine Mecking, Richard A. Feely, and Xuewu Liu
    Received 15 September 2009; revised 20 November 2009; accepted 25 November 2009; published 20 January 2010.

  68. paulsNZ says:

    You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.

    Abraham Lincoln

  69. Peter Miller says:

    JimF points out an inconvenient fact about fossil coral reefs during ancient geological times when we know carbon dioxide levels were much higher than they are today.

    The geological record is a real bitch for the AGW cult, it disproves the ridiculous ocean acidification theory (from CO2, locally there may be other causes of acidification, such as industrial sulphuric acid and agricultural nitrogen) and it fails to show runaway temperature feedbacks as predicted by the IPCC.

    But wait, records also show: i) no increase in the rate of increase of the sea level over the last few hundred years, ii) glaciers began retreating in the mid 1800s before CO2 began to increase, and iii) several warmer periods than today during the current inter-glacial cycle.

    This is why ‘climate scientists’ need complex computer models and carefully considered assumptions to prove the records are incorrect.

    As for oysters, they are a species which are usually super-sensitive to pollution, natural or manmade. Atmospheric CO2 levels are however one thing they are very definitely not sensitive to, as the geological record inconveniently confirms.

    Finally, Oysters first appeared during the Ordovician Period, about 450 million years ago, and seem to have been largely impervious to changes in their environment since that time.

  70. tokyoboy says:

    If ocean acidification (or reducing alkalinity) is SO SERIOUS NOW, marine life should have been MUCH MORE SERIOUSLY DAMAGED in the distant past, when CO2 was five- to ten-fold richer in the atmosphere, n’est-ce pas?

  71. Shevva says:

    Read the words CO2, didn’t bother to do any research just wrote an alarmist story, shove hand under the treasurers nose. More please.

  72. Pete says:

    As you point out Anthony, the average aquarist would appear to have a better grasp of water conditioning than either Elizabeth Grossman or the Whiskey Creek oyster hatchery owners!

    Nice destruction of yet another Red Herring!

  73. Al Gored says:

    Excellent article, and research. And you even included what may be the one of the least required ‘sarc’ labels of all time.

    “The world’s oceans depend on what’s happening in some aquaculture tanks in Oregon. /sarc”

  74. SSam says:

    Not Oregon… I know. But I am curious.

    How much SO2 and CO2 does it take to make a sizable plume of sea water to have a pH of 5.45?

    I would offer your a link, but IGN likes to keep info about their ongoing Canary Islands subsea eruption to themselves. Can’t have too many prying eyes ya know.

  75. EternalOptimist says:

    I think the Grossman claims are all accurate, but then editor took all her good work and mangled it up with a catchy headline

    thats the latest excuse isn’t it ?

  76. John Marshall says:

    Sea water pH levels are monitored, though not everywhere, and the lowest found in surface waters is 7.7pH which is NOT acidic but alkaline. (the CO2 science web site has a complete summary). when atmospheric CO2 levels were many thousands of ppmv corals grew at a faster rate than today and there were many of thriving species of mollusc alive as well.

    Southampton University experiments into ocean acidification did not go as modeled until hydrochloric acid was introduced into the tanks then the sea shells started to dissolve–ergo, experiment successful!!!

    Growing molluscs in tanks is notoriously difficult because pathogens normally removed or killed in the wild are not so run riot. Claiming that a failed growth experiment has failed due to CO2 is not only poor science it is stupid.

  77. DirkH says:

    Michael says:
    November 21, 2011 at 2:33 pm
    “Interesting article but it ignores the portion of the story discussing what is occuring outside of oyster nursery situations:
    “[...] scientists have been measuring alarmingly corrosive water along the Pacific coast.””

    Slightly more neutral water is alarmingly corrosive? You know what this means? It means that English majors don’t get taught chemistry. And you shouldn’t get information about chemistry from English majors even if they write books with “molecules” in the title. Who knows what she thinks a molecule is.

    This is too funny. The warmist propagandists don’t understand their own Orwellian word creations (“acidification” for “getting less alcalic”); then go on to posit complete bullcrap. Make her an IPCC lead author! She works for us!

    She writes:
    “Acidic water sometimes kills oyster larvae outright, so that they fail to survive past the egg stage. ”
    Un-be-lievable! “Acidic water” – and she shows a diagram with pH in the 8 range! She does absolutely not know what she is talking about; she’s a warmist superstar!!!

  78. Greg Holmes says:

    EXCELLENT DISSECTION OF THE REPORT! Many thanks.

  79. malcolm says:

    The weird thing is if you look at the scale for dissolved CO2 on the WWF graph (the only graph in the whole magazine, on page 11), the concentration is projected to FALL from -11 to -22 micromole per Kg. Does anyone have a pointer to the original graph before it got redrawn for the media release, because as it is it seems nonsense to me.

    I recommend this book about badly done media graphs, from 1959. Still in print, as the situation hasn’t got any better: http://www.amazon.com/How-Lie-Statistics-Darrell-Huff/dp/0393310728/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1321958131&sr=8-1

    (I note that page 8 shows a photograph of a power station emiting clouds of greenhouse gas in Westphalia. OK, water vapour IS a greenhouse gas, but I think this was just the consequences of a lazy picture editor not realising what actually comes out of cooling towers.)

  80. tallbloke says:

    Sorry for OT comment, this is very important:

    http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2011/11/22/breaking-news-foia-2011-has-arrived/

    Downloaded and virus checked – clean

  81. Dave Springer says:

    “I wonder though, why a World Wildlife Fund document exists on a NOAA server:
    http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/co2/files/thecircle0410.pdf

    Why not? There’s no law against it is there? It’s not like a Jim Hansen ethics violation where a government employee is raking in big bucks in gifts, fees, prizes, and travel expenses for himself and family members with outside speaking engagements and anti-industrial advocacy directly related to his work for the government.

    Gratuitous knee-jerk reactions to non-profit organizations like the WWF which, like most non-profit organizations, have at least some legitimate concerns and staff who aren’t evil, is no more than preaching to the choir. It might feel good to do it but it is counter-productive to presenting an image as an objective science-oriented observer and just makes you look like a reactionary bigot much like those you oppose only with an opposite agenda.

    If that’s the image you want then by all means go for it but if you want to set yourself apart from the ideologic crusaders then less knee-jerk cookie cutter boring predictable denigration of organizations with goals you don’t agree with is in order.

  82. Dave Springer says:

    tallbloke says:
    November 22, 2011 at 3:10 am

    http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2011/11/22/breaking-news-foia-2011-has-arrived/

    180 megs of climategate emails, zipped. Must be the whole enchilada this time:

    http://files.sinwt.ru/download.php?file=25FOIA2011.zip

    Less than a hunnert downloads as of this comment. Be the first kid on your block to get it. Sucker must be a gigabyte or more unzipped. Room for many many easter eggs. Happy hunting!

  83. mizimi says:

    Dirk H: says:
    She writes:
    “Acidic water sometimes kills oyster larvae outright, so that they fail to survive past the egg stage. ”

    Last time I looked at reproductive processes larvae popped out of eggs, not the other way round.
    But hey, let’s not be too pedantic here, it’s only another disinformation piece for the Believers.

  84. Richard Lyman says:

    Slightly OT. I am surprised no one picked up on this one. Perhaps things are worse than we thought? http://www.nydailynews.com/news/global-warming-open-floodgates-york-city-article-1.980462

  85. Smokey says:

    Dave Springer says:

    “I wonder though, why a World Wildlife Fund document exists on a NOAA server…”

    Why not? There’s no law against it is there?

    It’s sort of like a N.A.M.B.L.A. document being found on a Boy Scouts server.

  86. tallbloke says:

    The debate is getting lively over at tallbloke towers. All assistance welcome.
    http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2011/11/22/breaking-news-foia-2011-has-arrived/#comment-9470

  87. Steve Keohane says:

    Al Gore’s Holy Hologram says:November 21, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    Another chemophobic anti-science homeopath quack doctor

    You may be touching on something I have yet to see being brought up WRT CO2. What if it is homeopathic? Thus any atmospheric molecule that once was in a volume of atmosphere that once was in contact with a CO2 molecule would be prone to holding more heat. What we are dealing with here is simply the placebo effect. If we could get the atmosphere to believe that the homeopathic CO2 didn’t really work, then everything would be okay.

  88. DirkH says:

    Dave Springer says:
    November 22, 2011 at 3:53 am
    “Gratuitous knee-jerk reactions to non-profit organizations like the WWF which”

    The WWF has infiltrated the IPCC; and stands to profit big big time from the REDD schemes, something that might have slipped by your attention; so the description “Gratuitous knee-jerk reactions” somehow fails to stick. They are not some aloof idealistic group. They have a solid economic interest in a worldwide carbon trading scheme that is quite different from wanting to save the world or some endangered critter.

  89. mfreer says:

    Umm you did read the whole article, right? Her article says the same thing as the PCSGA 2009 report, but with more details.
    From Grossman’s article:

    When seasonal wind patterns change in spring, north winds create upwellings of deep and more acidic seawater off the Pacific Northwest coast. These waters — with their lowered pH and lack of available calcium carbonate in the form of what’s called aragonite — are what have been killing the oyster larvae
    and

    Because of the way seawater circulates around the world, the deep water now washing ashore in Oregon and Washington is actually 30 to 50 years old and absorbed its CO2 long before the fall of the Berlin Wall. This time lag is important because oceans absorb about 50 percent of the CO2 released by burning fossil fuels, emissions that have been rising dramatically in recent decades. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) ocean acidity has increased approximately 30 percent since the Industrial Revolution, and if we continue our current rate of carbon emissions, global oceans could be 150 percent more acidic by the end of the century than they have been for 20 million years.

  90. Dixon says:

    what’s the isotopic signature of all that CO2 coming from cold upwelling water?

  91. Pamela Gray says:

    She appears to state that natural levels of deep water CO2 are currently killing the oysters. And from that her hypothesis is stated regarding future deep water upwelling CO2 kills as being anthropogenic. There are so many ways her stretch, leap, jump, knee jerk alarming hypothesis cannot be supported, it would take too much of my morning coffee time to start.

    I was under the thumb of a meat and potatoes professor when I attempted my first research hypothesis. He nearly drove me crazy with his demands of gold-standard methods. I think he would have lobotomized this twit.

  92. Robbie says:

    “…..as ENSO and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, which have nothing to do with the small (20 Parts Per Million) global increase in atmospheric CO2 in the last decade.”

    And now you are making a heck of a mistake there. We all know that the oceans dissolve more CO2 than the atmosphere does. So the amount of dissolved CO2 in the ocean is much much higher than the 20 ppm in the last decade.

    “There is about fifty times as much carbon dissolved in the sea water of the oceans in the form of CO2 and carbonic acid, bicarbonate and carbonate ions as exists in the atmosphere.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_dioxide

  93. mizimi says:

    Robbie:
    your (Wiki’s) figures are somewhat out. Rough estimates give about 700 petagrams of CO2 in the atmosphere, 37500 Pgrams DISSOLVED in the oceans (yes, 50x as much) BUT 30,000,000 Pgrams locked up as sediment, and an unknown amount as clathrates.

  94. lwtc247 says:

    The usual result of taking a femto-event and extrapolating it to the macrosphere.
    Wonder if they’ve tried depicting it as a hockey stick yet?

  95. beng says:

    ****
    CRS, Dr.P.H. says:
    November 21, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    I hate to be the poop, but….oceanic acidification seems to be the only provable consequence of carbon dioxide buildup in the atmosphere. I’m a biologist, not a climate scientist. The data for acidification in the uppermost boundary of the oceans (“euphotic zone”) is observed and significant, and the risk could be to oceanic photosynthetic processes, which provide the majority of our oxygen.
    *****

    So, lemme get this straight. You’re saying that an increase of a trace gas, CO2, from .0003 to .0004 of the atmosphere over ~100 yrs is enough to significantly affect the ocean’s pH? Really?

  96. sceptical says:

    mfreer, “Umm you did read the whole article, right?”

    Wait, are you saying that there is more to this story than Mr. Watts wrote? This may not be the final nail in the CCAGW coffin?

  97. philincalifornia says:

    Richard Lyman says:
    November 22, 2011 at 4:11 am
    Slightly OT. I am surprised no one picked up on this one. Perhaps things are worse than we thought? http://www.nydailynews.com/news/global-warming-open-floodgates-york-city-article-1.980462
    ==========================================
    ….. but are those red herrings swimming in the NY subway system ??

    OK, back to the main event.

  98. Rob Crawford says:

    “Isn’t ocean water alkaline? The PH of the oceans is around 8.So why do we use the term acidification?”

    Because “ocean neutralization” sounds benign, and it’s all about the scare factor.

  99. hunter says:

    CRS,
    The only problem with your claim is that it lacks any evidence.
    Your study did not hold up under scrutiny.
    But hey, it is enough for believers.

  100. More CO2 in seawater helps the pH to become more alkaline. Sediment in oceans is mostly CaCO3 (Calcium carbonate) from seashells and skeletons. It is insoluble, but easily attacked by even a weak acid such as carbonic acid. Hence CaCO3 + H2CO3 (or H2O + CO2, carbonic acid) = Ca(HCO3)2 otherwise known as Calcium bicarbonate or Calcium Hydrogen Carbonate. This is SOLUBLE in water and is alkaline in solution. Unless all the Carbonate sediment, limestone and dolomite in the oceans and ocean beds disappears, more CO2 can only increase alkalinity of the oceans.

  101. CRS, Dr.P.H. says:

    beng says:
    November 22, 2011 at 8:34 am
    ****
    So, lemme get this straight. You’re saying that an increase of a trace gas, CO2, from .0003 to .0004 of the atmosphere over ~100 yrs is enough to significantly affect the ocean’s pH? Really?

    CRS Replies Not of the ENTIRE quantity of the ocean’s water, but the uppermost few meters or so, where the atmosphere/water interface exists. It’s the diffusion zone, where the carbon dioxide of the atmosphere (presently 392.22 ppm according to Anthony’s nifty “World Climate Widget”) diffuses into the seawater.

    Since photosynthesis depends upon sunlight penetration, and the pelagic phytoplankton such as Emiliania huxleyi requires sunlight for photosynthesis and carbonate for their “coccolith” structures, anything that impacts their growth could have quite negative consequences.

    I’m no Gaia-worshipping hippy, but this does concern me. Other influences on the euphotic zone include deposition of complex organic pollutants from manufacturing economies, of which China bothers me most. Oh well, I’ll be dead when the stuff hits the fan!

  102. Dave Springer says:

    Predicatable response from the choir. [yawn]

    DirkH says:
    November 22, 2011 at 5:33 am
    Dave Springer says:
    November 22, 2011 at 3:53 am
    “Gratuitous knee-jerk reactions to non-profit organizations like the WWF which”

    The WWF has infiltrated the IPCC; and stands to profit big big time from the REDD schemes, something that might have slipped by your attention; so the description “Gratuitous knee-jerk reactions” somehow fails to stick. They are not some aloof idealistic group. They have a solid economic interest in a worldwide carbon trading scheme that is quite different from wanting to save the world or some endangered critter.

  103. Dave Springer says:

    CRS, Dr.P.H. says:
    November 21, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    I hate to be the poop, but….oceanic acidification seems to be the only provable consequence of carbon dioxide buildup in the atmosphere. I’m a biologist, not a climate scientist. The data for acidification in the uppermost boundary of the oceans (“euphotic zone”) is observed and significant, and the risk could be to oceanic photosynthetic processes, which provide the majority of our oxygen.
    *****
    I hate to rain on your parade doctor but atmospheric CO2 level today is anemic compared to most of the earth’s history at some 10x present levels. Yet the biosphere was robust. Temperate forest covered antarctica. Green from pole to pole. You got some ‘splainin to do.

  104. Papa Harding says:

    Whiskey Creek is between South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve and Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve . Both are part of NOAAs SWMP (System Wide Monitoring Program) which uses YSI 6600 water quality data sondes. Data from the sondes can be found at http://cdmo.baruch.sc.edu/get/export.cfm. I don’t see any data that shows acidification via ocean/estuarine interface….in fact South Slough leans more towards basic. Thus, if acidification is occurring it would instead suggest a source locally and should be investigated as a spill event.

  105. LazyTeenager says:

    DirkH says
    let me help you
    ———-
    In the spirit of mutual assistance Dirk:

    Anthony refers to the article by Grossman and also the fisheries report.
    When referring to the Grossman article you would use she [singular] and when referring to the fisheries report they [plural]. And so saying they attribute the oyster die off to anthropogenic CO2 is not correct. Which is what i said.

    Saying she attributes the oyster die off to anthropogenic CO2 would be correct.

    And attributing Grossman’s views to some vague group of people out there would also be false and misleading. That’s just making stuff up.

  106. LazyTeenager says:

    John M says:
    November 21, 2011 at 2:26 pm
    Lazy teenager,

    Do you think the ocean surface waters will ever get hypoxic and super saturated from atmospheric CO2?

    I hope I’m not insulting your work ethic by asking.
    —————-
    Insult away.

    I think it very unlikely that the ocean surface waters will ever become hypoxic.
    There have been deep water hypoxic events in the deep past which caused mass extinctions ,but that is not relevant.

    The surface layers cannot become supersaturated with CO2 to any extent since there is to much mixing in the surface layers.

    Since there is currently a net flux of CO2 into the oceans it follows that on average the surface layers are not saturated.

  107. mosomoso says:

    Forgive my ignorance. All I know of CO2 comes from working with it for several years in a purely practical context.

    The only way to get a whole bunch of the stuff dissolved in water and consequently to acidify the water was to make that water very, very cold.

    Am I being shallow? Missing something?

  108. Mike Hollinshead says:

    From Grossman’s website:

    “She has a B.A. cum laude in Literature from Yale University. When not at her desk writing, she’s out exploring, hiking, biking, paddling, and sketching. A native of New York City where she worked for more than ten years as a literary agent, she lives in Portland, Oregon.”
    http://www.elizabethgrossman.com/elizabeth_grossman/About.html

  109. Pamela Gray says:

    She should visit Wallowa County and hike out into the Imnaha wilderness to see the wolves. Then if karma allows, head up South Fork to commune with the cougars. Even better, lets just trade places. Portland folk (especially journalists) can move to Wallowa County and eek out a living there, that is if they don’t become scat first. Wallowa County folk can move into Portland and get that city working again. Good trade.

  110. beng says:

    *****
    CRS, Dr.P.H. says:
    November 22, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    CRS Replies Not of the ENTIRE quantity of the ocean’s water, but the uppermost few meters or so, where the atmosphere/water interface exists. It’s the diffusion zone, where the carbon dioxide of the atmosphere (presently 392.22 ppm according to Anthony’s nifty “World Climate Widget”) diffuses into the seawater.

    Since photosynthesis depends upon sunlight penetration, and the pelagic phytoplankton such as Emiliania huxleyi requires sunlight for photosynthesis and carbonate for their “coccolith” structures, anything that impacts their growth could have quite negative consequences.
    *****

    OK. An experiment to demonstrate the non-biological effects should be simple. Take standard 20 gal aquariums that can be top-sealed, fill w/say, 12″ (is that shallow enough for ya?) of sterilized seawater (leaving space for air above), and maintain one at 300 ppm CO2 & the other at 400 ppm. CO2 might have to be added to both initially to maintain the right ppm until equilibrium w/the water is reached. Now, measure the pH of both & determine the difference. Think it’d be detectable? I bet it wouldn’t, or at least be insignificant.

    You’re proposing that biological activity will magnify this IMO insignificant pH change enough to seriously affect their development? That’s a big stretch, IMO. And I abhor damaging pollution too, but I don’t consider CO2 “pollution”, but plant food. As a biologist, I’d think you would too. :)

  111. Dennis A says:

    More acidity here
    12 February 2010, Acid Seas – Back To Basic
    http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/originals/acid_seas.html

    and here, covering oyster deaths, Lies, Damn Lies and Dying Shellfish Larvae.
    http://home.comcast.net/~rlester06/lies_shellfish_scam.pdf (original at SPPI)

  112. Chris Cox says:

    Another one just hitting the ABC here in Australia:
    Scientists sound alarm over Southern Ocean warming
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-11-29/southern-ocean-waters-warming/3700532?section=tas

    The Southern Ocean has helped absorb the Earth’s excess heat and carbon dioxide.

    But Dr Rintoul says as carbon dioxide dissolves, it changes the chemistry of sea water.

    “As we dissolve carbon dioxide in the ocean we change the chemistry and eventually we’ll cross the threshold between waters [where] the shells are stable, and waters where the sea water’s actually corrosive to the shell material and starts to dissolve the shells that the animals are making,” he warned.

    “We used to think that threshold would be crossed in about 2050 in the Southern Ocean. We now understand that that’s likely to happen a few decades earlier, perhaps as soon as 2030.

    ———————–

    So shellfish are going to start being eaten by the ocean by 2030…

  113. Brian H says:

    What’s with the blaming of CO2? Isn’t “hypoxic” enough? The reason clams and oysters flap open and closed is in order to breathe, after all.

  114. Brian H says:

    Chris;
    Don’t have the reference handy, but I believe there’s an informative new study which shows that what gets dissolved is the dead shells, while increased carbonation accelerates building of new ones. Essentially, speeding up the process of living. The only thing harmed is the formation of limestone and chalk beds!

Comments are closed.