Scripps paper: Ocean acidification fears overhyped

Change in sea water acidity pH caused by anthr...

Global pH changes supposedly due to human caused CO2- Image via Wikipedia

Reposted from Jo Nova, who did such a good job I decided there wasn’t any way I could improve on it, except to add the map at right. This needed the wide attention WUWT brings.

Scripps blockbuster: Ocean acidification happens all the time — naturally

There goes another scare campaign.

Until recently we had very little data about real time changes in ocean pH around the world. Finally autonomous sensors placed in a variety of ecosystems “from tropical to polar, open-ocean to coastal, kelp forest to coral reef” give us the information we needed.

It turns out that far from being a stable pH, spots all over the world are constantly changing. One spot in the ocean varied by an astonishing 1.4 pH units regularly. All our human emissions are projected by models to change the world’s oceans by about 0.3 pH units over the next 90 years, and that’s referred to as “catastrophic”, yet we now know that fish and some calcifying critters adapt naturally to changes far larger than that every year, sometimes in just a month, and in extreme cases, in just a day.

Data was collected by 15 individual SeaFET sensors in seven types of marine habitats.  Four sites were fairly stable (1, which includes the open ocean, and also sites 2,3,4) but most of the rest were highly variable (esp site 15 near Italy and 14 near Mexico) . On a monthly scale the pH varies by 0.024 to 1.430 pH units.

Figure 1. Map of pH sensor (SeaFET) deployment locations.

See Table 1 for details of locations

The authors draw two conclusions: (1) most non-open ocean sites vary a lot, and (2) and some spots vary so much they reach the “extreme” pH’s forecast for the doomsday future scenarios on a daily (a daily!) basis.

At Puerto Morelos (in Mexico’s easternmost state, on the Yucatán Peninsula) the pH varied as much as 0.3 units per hour due to groundwater springs. Each day the pH bottomed at about 10am, and peaked shortly after sunset. These extreme sites tell us that some marine life can cope with larger, faster swings than the apocalyptic predictions suggest, though of course, no one is suggesting that the entire global ocean would be happy with similar extreme swings.

Even the more stable and vast open ocean is not a fixed pH all year round. Hofmann writes that “Open-water areas (in the Southern Ocean) experience a strong seasonal shift in seawater pH (~0.3–0.5 units) between austral summer and winter.”

This paper is such a game changer, they talk about rewriting the null hypothesis:

“This natural variability has prompted the suggestion that “an appropriate null hypothesis may be, until evidence is obtained to the contrary, that major biogeochemical processes in the oceans other than calcification will not be fundamentally different under future higher CO2/lower pH conditions””

 

Matt Ridley: Taking Fears Of Acid Oceans With A Grain of Salt

[GWPF]  [Wall St Journal]

The central concern is that lower pH will make it harder for corals, clams and other “calcifier” creatures to make calcium carbonate skeletons and shells. Yet this concern also may be overstated. Off Papua New Guinea and the Italian island of Ischia, where natural carbon-dioxide bubbles from volcanic vents make the sea less alkaline, and off the Yucatan, where underwater springs make seawater actually acidic, studies have shown that at least some kinds of calcifiers still thrive—at least as far down as pH 7.8.

In a recent experiment in the Mediterranean, reported in Nature Climate Change, corals and mollusks were transplanted to lower pH sites, where they proved “able to calcify and grow at even faster than normal rates when exposed to the high [carbon-dioxide] levels projected for the next 300 years.” In any case, freshwater mussels thrive in Scottish rivers, where the pH is as low as five.

Human beings have indeed placed marine ecosystems under terrible pressure, but the chief culprits are overfishing and pollution. By comparison, a very slow reduction in the alkalinity of the oceans, well within the range of natural variation, is a modest threat, and it certainly does not merit apocalyptic headlines.

 

We also know that adding CO2 in a sense is feeding the calcifying organisms (like it feeds life above the water too). Co2 dissolves as bicarbonate, which marine uses to make skeletons and shells from. So yes, a lower pH dissolves shells, but the extra CO2 increases shell formation.

..

Figure 2. pH dynamics at 15 locations worldwide in 0–15 m water depth. All panels are plotted on the same vertical range of pH (total hydrogen ion scale). The ordinate axis was arbitrarily selected to encompass a 30-day period during each sensor deployment representative of each site during the deployment season. See Table 1 for details regarding sensor deployment.

Figure 3. Metrics of short-term pH variability at 15 locations worldwide, ranked by ascending values. Mean = geometric mean; Max = maximum value recorded; Min = minimum value recorded; SD = standard deviation; Range = Max – Min; Rate = mean of the absolute rate of change between adjacent data points.

There are caveats: possibly marine life is already operating at the “edge of it’s tolerances” (we don’t know), so pushing things further may be still detrimental. Also these extreme environments don’t have the same variety of organisms that less extreme ones do, so we don’t really want to convert the whole equatorial ocean into life as it exists in one Mexican Bay. But conditions in some places are changing more on daily basis than we are being warned to fear from a century long trend.

The bottom line is that claims that these pH changes are unprecedented, fast or unnatural are overstating things dramatically.  Typical estuarine environments have an inflow from rivers (with a lower pH) that fluctuates wildly, so do areas with upwelling, and even the pH in kelp forests varies dynamically.

The alarmist headlines, fears of mass starvation, and satanic allusions are unjustified:

‘Scientists label this acid trend “the evil twin of climate change”.

Anthropogenic climate change set to trigger tipping points,

Ocean acid threatens food chain,

Bbc News – ‘Acidifying oceans’ threaten food supply, Uk warns,

What we don’t know vastly eclipses what we do. We need to study the effects of human emissions of CO2, but not at the expense of other far more pressing threats.

If we care about ocean-life (not to mention our food supply) we need to focus on things that threaten it now.

 REFERENCES:

Hofmann GE, Smith JE, Johnson KS, Send U, Levin LA, et al. (2011) High-Frequency Dynamics of Ocean pH: A Multi-Ecosystem Comparison. PLoS ONE 6(12): e28983. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0028983 [PLOS paper and graphs sourced here]

Hat tip Brice Bosnich (who wrote the post: The chemistry of ocean pH and “acidification”).

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Matt Ridley: Taking Fears Of Acid Oceans With A Grain of Salt

Saturday, 07 January 2012, The Wall Street Journal (via the GWPF)

Coral reefs around the world are suffering badly from overfishing and various forms of pollution. Yet many experts argue that the greatest threat to them is the acidification of the oceans from the dissolving of man-made carbon dioxide emissions.

The effect of acidification, according to J.E.N. Veron, an Australian coral scientist, will be “nothing less than catastrophic…. What were once thriving coral gardens that supported the greatest biodiversity of the marine realm will become red-black bacterial slime, and they will stay that way.”

Humans have placed marine life under pressure, but the chief culprits are overfishing and pollution.

This is a common view. The Natural Resources Defense Council has called ocean acidification “the scariest environmental problem you’ve never heard of.” Sigourney Weaver, who narrated a film about the issue, said that “the scientists are freaked out.” The head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration calls it global warming’s “equally evil twin.”

But do the scientific data support such alarm? Last month scientists at San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography and other authors published a study showing how much the pH level (measuring alkalinity versus acidity) varies naturally between parts of the ocean and at different times of the day, month and year.

“On both a monthly and annual scale, even the most stable open ocean sites see pH changes many times larger than the annual rate of acidification,” say the authors of the study, adding that because good instruments to measure ocean pH have only recently been deployed, “this variation has been under-appreciated.” Over coral reefs, the pH decline between dusk and dawn is almost half as much as the decrease in average pH expected over the next 100 years. The noise is greater than the signal.

Another recent study, by scientists from the U.K., Hawaii and Massachusetts, concluded that “marine and freshwater assemblages have always experienced variable pH conditions,” and that “in many freshwater lakes, pH changes that are orders of magnitude greater than those projected for the 22nd-century oceans can occur over periods of hours.”

This adds to other hints that the ocean-acidification problem may have been exaggerated. For a start, the ocean is alkaline and in no danger of becoming acid (despite headlines like that from Reuters in 2009: “Climate Change Turning Seas Acid”). If the average pH of the ocean drops to 7.8 from 8.1 by 2100 as predicted, it will still be well above seven, the neutral point where alkalinity becomes acidity.

The central concern is that lower pH will make it harder for corals, clams and other “calcifier” creatures to make calcium carbonate skeletons and shells. Yet this concern also may be overstated. Off Papua New Guinea and the Italian island of Ischia, where natural carbon-dioxide bubbles from volcanic vents make the sea less alkaline, and off the Yucatan, where underwater springs make seawater actually acidic, studies have shown that at least some kinds of calcifiers still thrive—at least as far down as pH 7.8.

In a recent experiment in the Mediterranean, reported in Nature Climate Change, corals and mollusks were transplanted to lower pH sites, where they proved “able to calcify and grow at even faster than normal rates when exposed to the high [carbon-dioxide] levels projected for the next 300 years.” In any case, freshwater mussels thrive in Scottish rivers, where the pH is as low as five.

Laboratory experiments find that more marine creatures thrive than suffer when carbon dioxide lowers the pH level to 7.8. This is because the carbon dioxide dissolves mainly as bicarbonate, which many calcifiers use as raw material for carbonate.

Human beings have indeed placed marine ecosystems under terrible pressure, but the chief culprits are overfishing and pollution. By comparison, a very slow reduction in the alkalinity of the oceans, well within the range of natural variation, is a modest threat, and it certainly does not merit apocalyptic headlines.

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96 thoughts on “Scripps paper: Ocean acidification fears overhyped

  1. So what? All these immoral scientists need do is invent another enviro-scare, in order to keep the gravy train funding going.

    As long as they invent scares faster than they can be caught out for creating exaggerated lies then the fraudulent diversion of taxpayer funds from worthy causes will continue!

  2. Heh. So ocean “assification” is a normal process? Methinks that Gillard has yet again made an arse of herself.

    (Sorry, mods; the joke was too good to let it go by without an attempt at least ;)

  3. Typical estuarine environments have an inflow from rivers (with a lower pH) that fluctuates wildly
    ====================================================
    That’s why estuaries are so productive, and why so many babies grow up there. ;)
    and they do it twice a day, with every tide change

    Calcium can not make any skeletons unless it’s soluble, and it’s made soluble internally by lowing pH……a lower external pH just makes that easier…..providing there’s enough buffer/carbonate/CO2

    Corals growing under bridges in the Keys get an attitude adjustment twice a day. Incoming tide/ocean water, outgoing tide/bay water which can be below 7pH and almost all fresh water.

  4. Just to note that pH is a logarithmic scale so a change from pH 8.1 to pH 7.8 is a greater increase in acidity than it may appear from the small change in the numbers. That said, yet again new data not previously available, are showing that the hype and melodrama associated with AGW, are just that.

  5. Not surprising considering the vastly different conditions the ancestors of these creatures evolved in. Some of the paleo environment stuff seems to indicate that none of these conditions are at all unusual.

  6. you mean coral reefs are not going to disintegrate because of acidificarion? Geesh, so will the scientists who have been trying to prove otherwise now return their funding, hanging head in shame with sincere appology to the tax payer whom once again they have ripped off? There goes that flying pig again……….. and please can we see this in large print on the front page of every major newspaper so no one can ignore it and try to continute the myth scare tactic on little children.

  7. Unfortunately to the warmist CO2 AGW/CC brigade.

    This latest finding won’t stop their hyping the ocean acification scare mongering issue. Since they’re firmly locked in with their mindset ‘natural’ PH fluctuations don’t count. It’s outweighed by socalled Human induced PH levels. Give up your car today to save the oceans tomorrow will still the call.

  8. Interesting, having studied briefly the combustion process of carbon compounds as part of my engineering studies, I always thought that the ocean’s acidification was a byproduct of the large amounts of nitrogen “liberated” during the combustion process, considering the nitrogen:O2 ratio remains constant after a century of burning carbon compounds.

    My attack on the warmists originally was “if burning fossil fuels is changing the climate, where is the nitrogen?” and after a spot of research I found the ocean acidification theory which seemed to account for it.

    However, if acidification isn’t as bad as thought, and the N:O2 ratio remains fairly constant, then once again, where is the nitrogen?

  9. Increasing CO2 in the atmosphere will raise global temperatures (so they say). This must of course include the oceans. But when the oceans warm, they absorb LESS CO2!
    I’m totally confused.

  10. Suzuki….poor Suzuki. The dulcet tones of his plaintive bleating are a glimmering sonar echo off the abyss of the carbonate compensation depth. Perhaps he can team up with Kevin Bacon and save another species of white bear from the Carbon Devil.

  11. The entire thing is silly when you remember, as I did at her site, that practically all species of shell forming animals evolved when CO2 levels were much higher than they are today. We know with 100% certainty that a doubling of atmospheric CO2 content from today’s levels will not harm these species because we find them in the fossil record when CO2 was more than 2x today’s levels.

    The entire concept is an exercise in cognitive dissonance.

  12. Missing link?

    In story, Scientists label this acid trend “the evil twin of climate change”, across from The Hockey Stick Illusion book cover, can link to this:

    http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/acid-test-for-evil-twin-of-climate-change-20120107-1pp64.html

    They call themselves Team Acid and are trawling the Southern Ocean with fine nets to see if the shells of tiny marine snails are thinning because of ocean acidification.

    Scientists label this acid trend “the evil twin of climate change”.

  13. Whoops there goes another “global”, kerplop!

    Sooner or later we’ll figure it out: On an object as big and complicated as Earth, everything but the sun is local. Ain’t no “global”.

  14. One spot in the ocean varied by an astonishing 1.4 pH units regularly. All our human emissions are projected by models to change the world’s oceans by about 0.3 pH units over the next 90 years, and that’s referred to as “catastrophic”

    Even by Jo Nova standards, this is dumbfounding.

    Some places have daily temperatures swings in excess of 30degC. Normal annual variation in the NE US is something like 25-30degC. Try to see what happens if global temperatures rise by 20% of that!

    and off the Yucatan, where underwater springs make seawater actually acidic, studies have shown that at least some kinds of calcifiers still thrive—at least as far down as pH 7.8.

    You bet they do. Similarly, some species thrive under savannah-like conditions. Therefore, turning the whole Earth into a savannah could not possibly have any negative impact whatsoever!

    By the way, what’s the range of survivable conditions for extremophile prokaryotes?… :)

  15. I can hear the warmist religion front’s objections already: “The network of sensors is not robust geographically. Therefore it cannot be said that these results are truly global.” (In other words, come back when you have a deeply integrated, worldwide network of sensors with decades of data and we’ll think about it.)

    Yet, apparently, a dendrochronology core taken from a single tree on the Yamal Peninsula is adequate upon which to base global assertions…

  16. I think NASA should get on it.

    Here is my proposal for NASA;

    -Deploy sensors around the globe.
    -Calculate a mean value.That will make the whole picture fuzzy.
    -Buy a super duper computer.
    -Model a mean value based on some forcings. Make sure you get a “negative” trend.
    -Remove some sensors year by year.

    Just a proposal.

  17. To quote the paper itself:
    “For all the marine habitats described above, one very important consideration is that the extreme range of environmental variability does not necessarily translate to extreme resistance to future [Ocean Acidification].

    Instead, such a range of variation may mean that the organisms resident in tidal, estuarine, and upwelling regions are already operating at the limits of their physiological tolerances (a la the classic tolerance windows of Fox – see [68]).

    Thus, future acidification, whether it be atmospheric or from other sources, may drive the physiology of these organisms closer to the edges of their tolerance windows.

    When environmental change is layered upon their present-day range of environmental exposures, they may thereby be pushed to the “guardrails” of their tolerance [20], [68].”

  18. But, but….but…
    Scripps are looking at “rotten” acidification. The catastrophic threat is from “real but thinner” acidification! The acidification from your SUV emissions is worse than battery acid!
    Send more money, quickly……..
    \sarc

  19. I am commenting on the title before I even read the article.
    A pH change of 8.2 to 8.1 is indeed overhyped, not significant. It also is NOT acidification at all. A pH of 8 to 9 is slightly basic or mildly basic. The change is neutralization, not acidification.

    This is a life-enhancing change that will make for more biodiversity and more tonnage of life in the oceans.

    Warming is also life-enhancing up to 10 degrees C, and more CO2 is life-enhancing up to 10X present levels at least (maybe even 1000x).

    It is NOT good to repeat the hysterics’ lies right in your titles, nor is it enough to say of something highly beneficial that it is “not so bad….”

  20. What is truly surprising is that this natural pH range would come a surprise to anyone with ocean experience.

  21. They need to set up 50 more monitoring stations to really nail this down. I can’t seeing the alarmists accepting this result.

  22. I would hope that someone might take on the Jan 2012 issue of Nature Climate Change, which is an astonishing compilation of nonsense by purported academics who state:
    1. The “world governments” must place a tax on transport – shipping, air, rail and road – designed to provide most of the US$100 billion a year in climate finance needed by 2020.
    2. All cars should be electrified since electricity is potentially produceable entirely by renewable sources.
    3. Embryos and hatchlings of an estuarine fish, M. beryllina, are significantly harmed by concentration of CO2 of 1000ppm, which may be expected in the world’s oceans later this century.
    4. The expected contraction of oxygen-rich top layers of ocean endangers tuna and other pelagic fish.
    5. The predicted acidification of the ocean will harm the atlantic cod.

  23. How was the reputed “ocean” change in pH from 8.2 to 8.1 measured ?

    Does anyone know where this data is?

    How many data points were used, length of time, when were the measurements made etc…

    Reflections of the “Globull average land temperature”, maybe

  24. Ocean acidification?

    Lady Life Grows had it right; the title is just adding to the hype.

    [” All our human emissions are projected by models to change the world’s oceans by about 0.3 pH units over the next 90 years, and that’s referred to as “catastrophic”…”]

    Saying a change of 0.3pH is ‘acidification’ is like saying an obese person who loses a few pounds is becoming ‘more anorexic’.

  25. Corrosive anyone ?? Ha ha ha.

    Hello Rob Painting, Lazy Teenager, and Steven Mosher even ????

    Let me say it again – corrosive corrosive corrosive, so that Googlers can put that cretinous sh!t to rest.

  26. ps.. I’m guessing that the pH on the Great Barrier Reef (Australia) might have been quite affected by the 2010 floods, being that stormwater run-off is generally somewhat acidic, and there was one heck of a lot of it. So if measurements were made later in 2010, a residual effect might easily account for a slight de-caustification of the ocean water.

  27. Ocean acidification is a term, used for its ‘scare factor ‘ not for its scientific validity. That is being used at all shows how much this idea is about science and how much its really about gaining public support for ‘the cause ‘

  28. The term “acidification” has always rather bothered me. This sounds like we are turning the sea into a giant acid bath. A more accurate term would be “de-alkalinization”. Words matter – they frame the debate.

  29. I like the word “caustic”, not the weasle words “basic” or alkaline”

    CO2 could make the oceans “LESS CAUSTIC”.

  30. AndyG55 says:
    January 9, 2012 at 2:07 pm
    How was the reputed “ocean” change in pH from 8.2 to 8.1 measured ?

    Does anyone know where this data is?

    How many data points were used, length of time, when were the measurements made etc…

    Reflections of the “Globull average land temperature”, maybe

    It wasn’t measured. It was calculated from assumed atmospheric CO2 concentrations.

  31. I have had the good fortune to have been able to observe at close quarters and over some 50 years two very different salt water estuarine systems. The one in West Wales the other on the South coast of England. The Western Welsh estuary has a daily tidal range of up to 25ft (+/_), while the Solent estary has 4 tides a day, but with a much lower range, typically 12ft(+/-). The Welsh harbour has a stream running into it that drains an area of marsh land formed on impermeable non-calcareous rock where peat is forming and there are pools of standing water. The river is therefore of a lower ph level than might be expected. On the other hand, the Solent area estuary carries run off from the southern chalk uplands, typically giving a higher than average ph. I have noticed that many of the flora and fauna of the two estuaries are remarkably similar, there are differences, of course, but the mussels, barnacles, blennies, sea wracks, mackerel, harbour crabs etc etc. are the same. The ph of the two estuaries could hardly be different, yet there seems to be more similarities than differences between the visible life forms.

  32. Several years ago on blog enRomm they posted a histronic article on this topic. No where did the article show actual values. I asked the question of actual ph measurements and my question was erased.
    The global warming movement raises alarms , like glacier melts. total cessation of snows in the winter and wait to be debubnked while truimping other end of the earth claims. One of my favorites was the jet liner that landed in the Atlantic. It was declared as caused by warming before the crash was investigated.

  33. Did these studies ever test a fish tank? The fish can take a Ph change of a large degree. The plantes not so mutch. Suvirers adapt. Unlike “Scientist”. Grants =Political Correctness. Most objective people have come to the view that the golable warming scare is a scame. Can scientist adapt to this new peridime? Another G&T. See Ya.

  34. Great stuff, we finally have real world information on natural variability of pH in the oceans.

    Additional analysis that does with this Scripps study shows that several calcifiers actually do considerably better at lower pH than today. See Ries et al., Geology, 2009. “Marine calcifiers exhibit mixed responses to CO2-induced ocean acidification.”

    Ries et al show look at the calcifying response of 18 marine calcifiers from diverse families, exposed to the pH levels associated with 600 and 900 ppm CO2. At these levels, some calcifiers actually grow shell considerably faster than today, some grow a bit slower, but none appear to suffer serious consequences — defined by the more fearful and credulous among us as “dissolution.” A slightly lower pH doesn’t dissolve these critters for a variety of reasons, chief among them being that there are protective coatings on the carbonate shell (e.g., lobsters) and that many actually calcify faster (because with more CO2 in the water, there is more bicarbonate, which is used as the building block for building shell and coral.

    At levels of 2850 ppm CO2, some species do have far lower growth rates, and I would guess, might well go extinct. If we were to get to those levels of CO2, yes, I will be quite concerned. But at levels up to 900 ppm, three times pre-industrial, there seems to be little problem for calcifying creatures. And it isn’t just this study by Ries et al, there are many more showing surprising ability to deal with lower pH.

    This real world study by Scripps shows why creatures can do surprisingly well at lower pH: oceans naturally have considerably lower pH than we have previously been told.

    Why can calcifiers deal with higher CO2 and lower pH levles? Because they have survived time periods when CO2 was far higher, such as the end of the Eocene, 34 million years ago, when CO2 was typically around 1,100 ppm.

  35. Neutralization is rechristined as acidification.
    Recent, now-ceased mild warming becomes global and unprecedented.
    The Urban Heat Island doesn’t matter.
    Warming is climate, colding is weather.
    Bad weather is climate, good weather is, well, only weather.

    Cargo-cult ‘science’ marches on, heedless of facts, spurning data,
    spewing incessant propaganda.

    As with all self-deceivers, they’re supremely sincere too.

  36. Saw a fascinating film on the National Geographic channel the other night of a voyage of the vessel Tangaroa which undertook a voyage in 2008 to the Ross Sea in Antarctica carrying a group of scientists from New Zealand and other parts of the world. There were multi-scientific tasks including the measurement of acidification:

    http://www.fish.govt.nz/NR/rdonlyres/2E60DC02-08EB-4425-A3D1-8397ACC5A9DD/0/TheBite_LifeinAntarcticwaters.pdf

    There are also some very interesting comments in the emerging results:

    It seems that bacterial microbes may be more important than phytoplankton at driving ocean primary productivity, contrary to what has been traditionally believed by scientists.

    Recent studies have shown that the bacterial biomass in the ocean is greater than the combined biomass of all the other types of sea-life, including whales, seals and penguins. The ecological role of this unseen living mass of material is to control the breakdown processes of other living material and has a strong influence on the release of nutrients and minerals back into the system. It is therefore a key driver of ocean productivity. Experiments were conducted during the voyage to assess the effects of acidification on bacteria. Increased acidity affected the bacterial biomass, and possibly the type of bacteria able to function.

    However despite searching* I have been unable to find any follow up to this statement. I am sure that there is a paper somewhere, or one being written amplifying, what seems to be one of the most critical discoveries of the voyage which affects the entire food chain of marine life.

    Don’t get me wrong, there was some very necessary research done on this trip and I am sure that analysing results does take time but it is now more than 4 years since the voyage and if everything in the sea is going to be affected by CO2 we all need to know. Perhaps I have missed something somewhere or is another voyage called for to obtain more evidence?

    http://www.fish.govt.nz/en-nz/Environmental/Seabed+Protection+and+Research/IPY+CAML/default.htm

    http://ipy.antarcticanz.govt.nz/projects/caml/

  37. “So yes, a lower pH dissolves shells,”

    At what pH do shells dissolve? It can’t be just at any pH below present unless we are saying that pH 7 is caustic and more acidic than current levels?

  38. Ian says:
    January 9, 2012 at 12:22 pm
    “Just to note that pH is a logarithmic scale so a change from pH 8.1 to pH 7.8 is a greater increase in acidity than it may appear from the small change in the numbers.”

    Please, from pH 8.1 to pH 7.8 is a lower alkalinity, not an increase in acidity. Are you suggesting that pH 7 is acidic?

  39. Back in November of 2011, water samples South of La Restinga were reported to have pH levels as low as ≈ 5.0. This was in the vicinity of the ongoing undersea eruption of El Hierro. It’s become one of the longest eruptions in the Canaries, which started around 10 October.

  40. Yes, ‘decaustification’.

    At any rate, AnthroCO2, will lower pH. Apparently even in the high CO2 panic scenarios, critters will adapt. There is only moderate likelihood of the high CO2 scenarios, and there are unknown unknowns in the chemical buffering and biologically fedback buffering which will manifest themselves as the pH edges down.

    I’d yawn if I weren’t starting to shiver.
    =================

  41. The oceans hath a plethora of buffers.

    Alkali or die?

    What happens to all those nice little nitrates and sulfates from those wonderful catalytic converters? A result of if you can’t see it ….

  42. If the Puerto Morelos mentioned as a sensor location is the Puerto Morelos on the Carribean in the territory of Quintana Roo, Mexico, which is the sea port for Isla Mujeres than just offshore is the second longest barrier reef in the world. When I swam out to it in 1971 it looked to be in magnificent shape. If it’s the drainage from the land that is lowering the PH then the PH was probably about the same in ’71 as it is today.

  43. Ocean acidification, as a result of rising atomospheric CO2 levels, is typical alarmist nonsense.

    If you do the maths and take 40% (current estimated rate of ocean absorbtion) of the 32 billion tonnes of CO2 we produce annually and put that into 1.34 billion cubic kms of ocean, you get an increase of CO2 in the ocean of about one part per million per century! if you restrict the CO2 going into the 18% of the ocean above the main thermocline, then the figure rises to five parts per million per century.

    CO2 absorbed by water creates an incredibly weak acid, which basically does almost nothing.

    If the ocean is acidifying a tiny bit – a huge if – you need to look at the real cause: man’s nitric (nitrates) and sulphuric acid (sulphates) production finding its way into the environment.

    In a worse case scenario, if there is a tiny increase in ocean acidity, life will adapt just as it has done for the last few hundred millions of years.

    However, as we all know, alarmists routinely put their faith in their computer models (usually ones with pre-determined conclusions) and ignore actual observations, unless they have been suitably cherry picked/filtered/manipulated/tortured.

    It would be really interesting to know the amount of grant funding this ocean acidification BS has generated over the past decade.

  44. Many people, including myself have often commented on this. The idea that the pH of particular places in the ocean would be basically static is preposterous. Who, in their right mind ever believed such an absurdity? I guess I’m glad some one actually did the leg work, but, other than the lunatic fringe, did anyone ever take this serious? We’ve known for some time the oceans intake gas and outgas on various occasions. Did they think the pH remained the same? When fresh water sources increase or decrease, (Mississippi flooding for instance) did they believe pH remained the same? Currents and oscillating events? We need to start adding this stuff into the cost analysis of this stupidity. There’s no reason on earth why someone should have felt compelled to actually go out and prove the pH balances don’t remain static in the oceans. The depravity of the loons knows no bounds. Or, maybe they really are just that stupid.

  45. Same old story with environmental alarmism – the hysteria is usually killed off quickly by the injection of facts.

  46. Yes, but we need something in the ocean to go wrong, otherwise we won’t be invited to climate conferences. Perhaps we can dredge up some plankton scares.

  47. Roger Lancaster says: January 9, 2012 at 2:25 pm
    “The term “acidification” has always rather bothered me. This sounds like we are turning the sea into a giant acid bath. A more accurate term would be “de-alkalinization”. Words matter – they frame the debate.
    (my bold)
    indeed, and this truth has been recognized for a very long time.
    If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant; if what is said is not what is meant, then what must be done remains undone; if this remains undone, morals and art will deteriorate; if justice goes astray, the people will stand about in helpless confusion. Hence there must be no arbitrariness in what is said. This matters above everything.
    ~
    The Master (also) said:

    If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things.

    — Master Kong, 551-479 BCE (AKA Kǒng Fūzǐ, or Confucius)

    It is language, perhaps more than anything else, that separates Man from the beasts. Language can be used to educate, but also to deceive.

  48. Blast! more fugitive tags.
    s/b

    If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant; if what is said is not what is meant, then what must be done remains undone; if this remains undone, morals and art will deteriorate; if justice goes astray, the people will stand about in helpless confusion. Hence there must be no arbitrariness in what is said. This matters above everything.

    The words are Master Kong’s, not mine.

  49. The information in this paper is not going to surprise many people, nor will the ideological review of a pragmatic science paper by Jo Nova .

    From the paper:

    “Admittedly, pH is only part of the story with regard to the biological impacts of OA on marine organisms.”

    “The sites examined in this study do not comprehensively represent pH variability in coastal ecosystems, partly because we focused on surface epipelagic and shallow benthic pH variability. Many organisms that may be impacted by pH variability and ocean acidification reside at intermediate (>10 m) to abyssal depths”

    “For all the marine habitats described above, one very important consideration is that the extreme range of environmental variability does not necessarily translate to extreme resistance to future OA.”

    ” At this juncture, it is not clear what aspect of this variability is most biologically significant (e.g. minimum pH, maximum pH, hours spent below the yearly mean low pH)”

    “As a final note, we do concede that, like pCO2, pH may not tell the whole story. It may in fact be saturation state and not pH that is the main driver of the mechanistic and physiological impact of OA, at least for calcifying organisms.”

    “There is also a need to monitor other hydrographic variables in addition to the carbonate system. Modern and paleo OA events are accompanied by shifts in temperature, stratification, and dissolved oxygen [82]. The impacts of OA can depend on values of interacting stressors such as temperature and oxygen, and pH may in turn alter tolerance to these stressors, with major consequences for organism function [83]. ”

    This paper only deals with natural variation of the oceans pH which is definately not unknown nor undocumented…..

    ” We document a significant long-term decreasing trend of −0.0019 ± 0.0002 y−1 in surface pH, which is indistinguishable from the rate of acidification expected from equilibration with the atmosphere. Superimposed upon this trend is a strong seasonal pH cycle driven by temperature, mixing, and net photosynthetic CO2 assimilation. We also observe substantial interannual variability in surface pH, influenced by climate-induced fluctuations in upper ocean stability. Below the mixed layer, we find that the change in acidification is enhanced within distinct subsurface strata. These zones are influenced by remote water mass formation and intrusion, biological carbon remineralization, or both. We suggest that physical and biogeochemical processes alter the acidification rate with depth and time and must therefore be given due consideration when designing and interpreting ocean pH monitoring efforts and predictive models.”

    is from Dore et al 2009 which combines 20 years of research. What is much more important and what hundreds of papers agree on is the TREND, or the point at where these variations will deviate from. This is much the same as terrestrial conditions. Just because a collection of animals have adapted to survive in the Sahara doesn’t mean there will be little consequences if the whole land mass changed to those conditions in a century or two, does it? This can be applied to the oceans also.

    This interesting study into the short term VARIABILITY of ocean pH raises a lot of questions but does not (even try to) refute or debunk the research and observations that suggest the TREND in OA is putting us on the verge of a major catastrophe for our oceans. It is certainly not a “game changer”. The only thing “overhyped” here is Novas analysis.

  50. Steve P says:
    January 9, 2012 at 6:25 pm
    Language can be used to educate, but also to deceive.
    ================
    Exactly. When I was a practicing organic chemist, I’m sure I added acid to an aqueous solution at a higher pH and brought it closer to neutrality. I had no problem with the colloquial term “acidification” for this process then.

    That was then. This is now. The fake-environmentalists are going to have to try harder to steal words from scientists for the purpose of deception of billions of people. Sorry fake-environmentalists, we’re onto you and your tricks.

  51. Are daily and seasonal fluctuations in pH equivalent to daily and seasonal fluctuations in air temperature ? Night and day temp differences are usually much bigger than the AGW trend, but the average is more important.

  52. Anthony-

    It’s almost as if you didn’t read the paper at all:

    “The sites examined in this study do not comprehensively represent pH variability in coastal ecosystems[.] Many organisms that may be impacted by pH variability and ocean acidification reside at intermediate and abyssal depths.”

    After all the time you spent complaining about government sponsored research and, more to the point, monitoring, you see a journal article describing 15 sites taking measurements for as little as 30 days and you’re ready to declare the question of ocean acidification answered? This is a drastic departure from your previous positions regarding the veracity of monitoring data from sites that have not been thoroughly cataloged and photographed.

    Can you explain these contradictory positions?

  53. Nick Luke says:
    January 9, 2012 at 2:36 pm
    The ph of the two estuaries could hardly be [more] different, yet there seems to be more similarities than differences between the visible life forms.

    I think you meant the above inserted word to be there? That way it makes sense.

  54. crosspatch says:
    January 9, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    The entire concept is an exercise in cognitive dissonance.

    Not for me!
    Cog Dis is a condition suffered by those exposed to observations contradicting opinions they are not willing to relinquish. In any case, a concept can’t be a mental response or condition.

    But we see it above in those who cavil that a 0.3 pH change might be a “tipping point” for locales already at the edge of tolerance. That there is no shred of evidence they are at such an edge is just one of the larger holes in that POV. Actual experimental data like the following is pretty definitive:

    In a recent experiment in the Mediterranean, reported in Nature Climate Change, corals and mollusks were transplanted to lower pH sites, where they proved “able to calcify and grow at even faster than normal rates when exposed to the high [carbon-dioxide] levels projected for the next 300 years.” In any case, freshwater mussels thrive in Scottish rivers, where the pH is as low as five.

    Laboratory experiments find that more marine creatures thrive than suffer when carbon dioxide lowers the pH level to 7.8. This is because the carbon dioxide dissolves mainly as bicarbonate, which many calcifiers use as raw material for carbonate.

    So the Cog Dis yammering from pain and confusion begins.

  55. Philincalifornia – “Corrosive anyone ?? Ha ha ha.Hello Rob Painting, Lazy Teenager, and Steven Mosher even ????”

    You called?

    I see Puget Sound is being classified as “waters of concern” due to ocean acidification. I think the corrosive nature of the water killing oyster larvae might play a part in that.

    “Ocean acidification is putting the whole Puget Sound ecosystem at risk,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Focusing on the entire Sound as a ‘water of concern’ because of ocean acidification is a key step toward monitoring the effects of this sea change and curbing those effects.”

    Being acclimated to large pH fluctuations doesn’t seem to be helping those mussels and oysters. And yes, I know farmed oysters are not native to that area, but they did okay(ish) until the waters became corrosive. Native mussels are in trouble though.

  56. Phil M. says:
    January 9, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    Anthony-

    It’s almost as if you didn’t read the paper at all:

    “The sites examined in this study do not comprehensively represent pH variability in coastal ecosystems[.] Many organisms that may be impacted by pH variability and ocean acidification reside at intermediate and abyssal depths.”

    Such cavils are merely attempts to blunt the obvious implications of the findings — no evidence, anywhere, of susceptibility to the mild de-caustification projected by overheated models. The authors have their next funding application in mind, as always.

  57. John – “Why can calcifiers deal with higher CO2 and lower pH levles? Because they have survived time periods when CO2 was far higher, such as the end of the Eocene, 34 million years ago, when CO2 was typically around 1,100 ppm’.

    Yes, and guess what happened to coral during the EECO (Early Eocene Climatic Optimum)? Coral took a bit of a pounding because of ocean acidification. I think you need to google silicate weathering – particularly the timescale that it, and the dissolution of seafloor calcium carbonates, operates. The whole thing doesn’t become so confusing then.

  58. Rob Painting is so far out there that it’s not really worth responding. But being skeptical, I have to point out that the pH error bars are so wide compared with the putative rise in “acidity” that the alarmist crowd’s silly conclusions are risibly preposterous.

    Painting needs to familiarize himrself with the scientific method, and he will begin to see how off-base his cognitive dissonance has misled him.

  59. AndyG55 says:
    January 9, 2012 at 2:25 pm
    CO2 could make the oceans “LESS CAUSTIC”.

    CO2 is neutralizing the oceans. Zero scare value to drum up funding with that one.

  60. Rob Painting says:
    January 9, 2012 at 7:59 pm
    “Ocean acidification is putting the whole Puget Sound ecosystem at risk,”

    Couldn’t have anything to do with the millions of people peeing into the Sound every day could it?

  61. Rob P;
    I’m not even going to bother responding to the Puget Sound bumpf again. The actual periodic upwelling that caused the problem has been documented many times. Threadjack BS.

  62. Rob Painting says:
    January 9, 2012 at 7:59 pm
    ===========

    Thanks Rob for the link, supporting my exact point about the use of the term “ocean acidification” for organized deception.

  63. @ferd

    “CO2 is neutralizing the ocean”

    where is the empirical data that shows this to be the case?… ie measurements.

  64. AndyG55 says:
    January 9, 2012 at 9:45 pm
    where is the empirical data that shows this to be the case?… ie measurements.

    In chemistry, adding acid to a base is called “neutralization”. It is only called acidification in the pseudo science of climatology.

  65. But wait, you producers of CO2 – be afraid. Like Sigourney Weaver’s Alien, the evil box jelly fish is not only surviving, it is thriving, despite the fact that pH levels are as low as 5.0:

    http://www.news.appstate.edu/2009/04/10/box-jellyfish/

    And they will still inject their poisonous venom – not with Alien acid – but with a deadly cocktail laced with alkaline proteins.

    So my advice is this, until they start recommending bicarbonate of soda rather than vinegar as an antidote for the BJF, do not worry too much about Alien 5 eating out the bottom of your tinny.

  66. Ferd berple says:

    “Couldn’t have anything to do with the millions of people peeing into the Sound every day could it?”

    Or perhaps the fact that the entire Puget Sound/Juan de Fuca/Inside Passage region receives runoff from temperate rain forests with their load of tannic and humic acids. Bad rain forests. That couldn’t be a factor at all. /sarc

  67. AndyG55 says:
    January 9, 2012 at 9:45 pm
    @ferd
    “CO2 is neutralizing the ocean”
    “”where is the empirical data that shows this to be the case?… ie measurements.””

    Er, not sure if this is meant to have a sarc tag?
    Empirical evidence. Ocean pH trending from pH 8.18 to 8.07, which is on it’s way to pH 7 = Neutral

  68. AndyG55 says:
    January 9, 2012 at 2:07 pm
    “How was the reputed “ocean” change in pH from 8.2 to 8.1 measured ? ”
    See IPCC AR4:
    Climate Change 2007: Working Group I: The Physical Science Basis, 5.4.2.3 Ocean Acidification by Carbon Dioxide.11
    “A decrease in surface pH of 0.1 over the global ocean was calculated from the estimated uptake of anthropogenic carbon between 1750 and 1994 (Sabine et al., 2004b; Raven et al., 2005), with the lowest decrease (0.06) in the tropics and subtropics, and the highest decrease (0.12) at high latitudes, consistent with the lower buffer capacity of the high latitudes compared to the low latitudes. The mean pH of surface waters ranges between 7.9 and 8.3 in the open ocean, so the ocean remains alkaline (pH > 7) even after these decreases.

    The consequences of changes in pH on marine organisms are poorly known (see Section 7.3.4 and Box 7.3). For comparison, pH was higher by 0.1 unit during glaciations, and there is no evidence of pH values more than 0.6 units below the pre-industrial pH during the past 300 million years (Caldeira and Wickett, 2003)12. A decrease in ocean pH of 0.1 units corresponds to a 30% increase in the concentration of H+ in seawater, assuming that alkalinity and temperature remain constant.”

    Hence we get the claim that “the ocean” has become 30% more acidic since the start of the industrial revolution. There is of course no such entity as the “Global Ocean”

    NERC notes that:
    Dr. Ken Caldeira and Dr. Michael Wickett from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the US were among the first to point out the problem in a Nature paper in 2003. This was followed up by a Royal Society report two years later. It was entitled, “Ocean acidification due to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide.”

    The members of the committee producing that report included one Dr. Ken Caldeira, at that time at Lawrence Livermore laboratory. He was accompanied by scientists from the University of East Anglia, Southampton University and Plymouth Marine Laboratory, both the latter institutions are part of the UK Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, the main body in the UK promoting draconian emissions control on behalf of the UK government and which is based at UEA.

    For more background on this check out “Acid Seas – Back To Basic”, 12 February 2010
    http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/originals/acid_seas.html, and also “Lies, Damn Lies and Dying Shellfish Larvae”. http://home.comcast.net/~rlester06/lies_shellfish_scam.pdf

    You might like to check out NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco’s video on the NOAA web site, showing how chalk dissolves in vinegar and that is what is happening to the oceans. You can view it here: http://www.noaa.gov/video/administrator/acidification/index.html

    Such dishonesty…..

  69. How many times have I blogged this!

    The oceans have been at the present varying pH for hundreds of million years, one of oceanography’s main assumptions because no evidence has been found of anything different. Surface waters normal pH is between 7.8 and 8.4.

  70. To Steven Skinner and others regarding shells dissolving:

    There was a video on the net showing a carbonate plastic bottle slowly dissolving with increasing acidification. As far as I can tell, that is the start of the scare story about living creatures dissolving.

    It’s not true, of course, at least not at levels of acidification (or decreases in alkalinity) up to at least 900 ppm of CO2, and probably considerably higher.

    That is because calcifiers have seen these CO2 levels before and they are genetically capable of dealing with these levels. One way they deal is that calcifiers often have a coating that protects their carbonate structures from being dissolved — lobsters, for example, or crabs. Another is that these creatures keep adding carbonate structure.

    Please see my post at 3:16 PM Jan 9 above for a reference in which experimenters grew 18 calcifiers from different families at CO2 levels of 400, 600, 900, and 2,850 ppm of CO2. None had net loss at 900 ppm.

  71. Interesting data, that provides more evidence for my hypothesis, soon to be elevated to the

    Law of Environmental Nonsense
    “Nothing that 21st Century environmental radicals (aka global warming alarmists) have written is valid. It is all fictitious nonsense, concocted to frighten the gullible public, and unsupported by facts.“

    A trillion dollars of scarce global resources has been squandered on false alarms concocted by politically-motivated environmental radicals. It is time to put a stop to this wasteful (and truly anti-environmental) foolishness.

  72. Yes, let’s all go back and (re-)read Willis’ December post here at WUWT. That is the one where Willis made the perfectly correct argument that it is not acidification simply by moving toward the 7.0 pH neutral state. It is NEUTRALIZATION, not acidification. It is total B.S. to call it acidification unless the pH goes below 7.0.

    In Matt Ridley’s article JoNova quotes

    The central concern is that lower pH will make it harder for corals… studies have shown that at least some kinds of calcifiers still thrive—at least as far down as pH 7.8.

    7.8pH is still ALKALINE. Of course corals will not be affected. Are these alarmists daft?

  73. Freshwater shellfish in lakes and rivers do fine and some of these lakes have had some acidification. When doing baseline enviro studies for mining development, one of the things done is to collect lake and stream species for study and count. I’ve never seen a situation where there were no freshwater clams, crayfish, etc. How do these critters do it.

  74. Re:

    Lady Life Grows says:
    January 9, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    This is a life-enhancing change that will make for more biodiversity and more tonnage of life in the oceans.

    Warming is also life-enhancing up to 10 degrees C, and more CO2 is life-enhancing up to 10X present levels at least (maybe even 1000x).

    Would you cite a source for this?

  75. If increased CO2 causes acidification of the oceans which then leads to decalcification of corals and shellfish then what happened during the Devonian? The Devonian marked the greatest coral building the world has seen and shellfish where a dominate feature of the ocean. It was also a time when CO2 levels were 7 times higher than today. So why didn’t ocean acidification wipe out the oceans then?
    Just a thought that occurred to me after visiting the Devonian Fossil Gorge recently.

  76. Willis Eschenbach says:
    January 9, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Hi Willis: Your link brought me back to this post. Incidentally I read your “its not about me” – one of my best mates (and I) had many similar upbringing experiences, especially on and below the sea – kinda makes you a mate by default!

  77. @Steve..”
    “Empirical evidence. Ocean pH trending from pH 8.18 to 8.07, ”

    I repeat. show me the actual measurements. Otherwise its just a theoretical hypothetical calculation with lots of assumptions

    Do you seriously believe we can measure the whole of ocean pH, to 2 decimal places… roflmao !!!

  78. and from that bastian of Climate furphies… Wikipedia

    “In statistics, “empirical” quantities are those computed from OBSERVED VALUES, as opposed to derived from theoretical considerations.”

  79. AndyG55,

    Precise spectrophotometric procedures for seawater pH measurements started being developed in 1985 and were first successfully used in 1991 on a transect between Oahu and Kodiak. Since then literally hundreds of thousands of measurements have been taken and re-taken from all over our oceans. This empirical evidence ( combined with many other direct observations ) is the basis for our stated knowledge about ocean pH as a whole and can be found at:

    http://cchdo.ucsd.edu/

    It is a good place to start and hope it helps some of your questions on this thread.

  80. To Bob Painting, 8:06 PM:

    Please tell me your source for “corals took a pounding.” I don’t know what a “pounding” is scientifically. If you are talking about the very beginning of the Eocene, around 54 million years ago, CO2 levels were still around 2,000 ppm, sea temperatures in the Arctic Ocean were 20 degrees C and crocodiles were at the North pole. There are many differences between that world and this one; these differences, in addition to the high CO2, caused a much warmer world than today. Without evidence to the contrary, I agree that 2,000 ppm would likely be bad for many corals, although many corals appear to have survived through the P/E boundary. If I am wrong, I’ll admit to it, but I need to know your sources and what they say.

    My point, however, had to do with the ability of corals to grow during the very late Eocene, when CO2 levels were about 1,100 ppm. For most of the Eocene, including the last half million years of it when CO2 was about 1,100 ppm, my understanding is that pretty much all corals survived and did well.

    Corals have survived far longer than the 34 million years from the present back to the end of the Eocene. There are coral reefs in the Pacific that have been growing for 50 million years. The source is the link below, an article about confirming Darwin’s incredible and accurate notion that coral reefs had once surrounded volcanic islands, and that as the islands gradually subsided, the corals continued to grow up toward the surface. The article also says that the coral reef had been growing upward at a pace of 1 inch per millennium. That corresponds to 1,000 inches per million years, which is 83 feet per million years. Thus 4,200 feet of growth takes place in 50 million years.

    http://www.naturalhistorymag.com/?q=0209/0209_feature.html

    Ries et al. (“A nonlinear calcification response to CO2-induced ocean acidification by the coral Oculina arbuscula,” Coral Reefs, 2010) shows that these prominent corals showed very little harm or change between 400, 600, and 900 ppm, when grown for several months in a laboratory with the above CO2 levels and correspondingly lower pH levels. Since the aragonite saturation state at 990 ppm, from the article, is 1.6, and goes below 1.0 at far higher levels (at 2,850 ppm, it is 0.8), it is clear that at a little past 900 — e.g., 1,100 ppm — the aragonite saturation state would still be above 1.0, which is probably why the corals continued to grow well at 1,100 ppm at the end of the Eocene.

    Ries et al. (2010) is available on the net by googling the full title of the article.

    If your point was about the very beginning of the Eocene, we can agree that we don’t want to go to 2,000 ppm CO2, pending further lab work which might show the contrary. But there doesn’t seem to be an issue I can see for corals at 1,100 ppm, both from current lab work, and from the history of corals through most of the Eocene.

  81. @ Nick,
    Yes , I knew about that project, it is a very good project, but the data is still very sparse, especially considering the large variations bought to light in a few tested locations in the study in this thread.

    Does the data from the CCHDO show any of these variations?

    I remain highly skeptical about the ability to calculate “whole of ocean” pH to 2 decimal places, or even to 1 decimal place without fairly large error bars.

  82. Willis Eschenbach says:
    January 9, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Let the record show that I reported on this same study, and came to much the same conclusions, in my post in December called “The Ocean Is Not Getting Acidified” … Once again, WUWT is first off the starting line …

    Seconded, because it makes me feel better! I was already a little upset wondering if anyone had noticed the record when I saw Jo’s post at her own site after seeing yours here. Or perhaps a little Valium instead?

  83. AndyG55,

    I would disagree that the data is sparse, especially when combined with many other projects involving long term observations. As I said previously the data presented in this paper is interesting but such few stations and such short time frames are not that helpful to the overall picture, in fact the paper says as much; “…establishing uncertainty in sampling error requires a constant field presence to carry out a meaningful number of discrete samples over an appropriate period of time. Such validation is beyond the scope of the studies presented in this work”.

    The CCHDO figures do show similar natural variations confirming other views on this thread that natural variation is nothing new to scientists, however there is most certainly a neutralizing trend that is apparent within this variation. This observed trend is undeniable. The best and most complete explanation we have is that we are the major cause of it. More knowledge is needed to assess exactly how bad (or good) it could be seeing as we have some conflicting small scale experiments at this stage. The major problem with “proving” it beyond all doubt is the “experiment” would have to be done with the whole ocean and I for one am not prepared to bet the entire ocean on an experiment they may very probably lead to its demise as we know it.
    Yours (and others) skepticism is healthy, but how about a little dash of prudence in there too! :)

  84. Piece of cake; the pH numbers aren’t changing at all. If you measure the pH out in the ocean, and put an x on the side of the boat so you know where you are.
    Then you go back in a day, week, month year, to ther exact same GPS co-ordinates where you left the X, and voilla ! the pH has changed.

    Well of course you are in the same X marks the spot; but the WATER isn’t.

    Ocean currents meander, just like rivers everywhere; even the water running down your car’s windshield meanders.

    That is what is wrong with the whole HADCRUD global Temperature data taken from buckets of water on ships over the last 150 years; even in the same place, the shi[p was never in the same water.

  85. Oh, for the days when scientist were about the most truthful people you could encounter. But that was back when most of them were privately employed, and our education systems were state systems without federal control or funding. And we had the top rated education in the world instead of our current 35th place.

  86. @Nick Kermode,

    You have it so backwards. As a biologist it distresses me that people think a -very- slow, if even detectable, trend poses any danger to life, let alone of pH by 0.3 units!

    Life has no problem with slow trends. Acclimation finds 0.3 pH units trivial. I know of no biological systems, even your internal blood chemistry, that is dangerously affected by 0.3 pH units (for instance, your blood pH can vary from 7.4 to 6.8 (7.8 is the high end for mammals, but I’m not sure if humans get that high), and this is a system which is far more sensitive to pH than marine organisms could ever be, as the oxygen carrying capacity of hemoglobin is exquisitely sensitive to pH; let alone a host of other processes directly exposed to these conditions).

    Do you not recognize that individual cells have extensive pH balancing mechanisms, and can be at a pH level far away from the actual pH of the medium (Pichia pastoris is an example, which can lower the pH of its growth medium to 2! And yet it grows completely fine, and maintains a favorable internal pH)? And did you know that the internal pH of cells is also variable, especially based on what suite of proteins are being expressed or signal transduction cascades are in process (such as Ca+ signaling, or voltage gated channels)?

    0.3 pH units will have no impact on life, especially over a CENTURY of gradual change, if it happens at all. Even a full pH unit would be overcomeable since we’d still only be near pH 7, true neutral. All any organism will need to do is express slightly more buffering and catalytic proteins to overcome any effects 0.3 units could make; and that’s well within the ability of individual acclimation let alone genetic variation of populations due to sexual reproduction. People who purport 0.3 pH units in the ocean as being dangerous surely show an incredible disregard, if not contempt, for biology.

    The only thing that is dangerous to life is SUDDEN changes that are extreme and beyond the individual level of adaptability. Populations are FAR more adaptable than an individual. And here in this paper we see comparatively extreme pH shifts (such as that bay and CO2 vents) which are not causing any damage to the ecosystems; ecosystems found in other more stable pH regions too. If life has no problem with these day by day swings, 0.3 pH over a century is not even remotely noteworthy.

    This whole catastrophy fantasy nausiates me. Are other scientific fields this badly educated about basic biology and chemistry? Even protein biochemistry scoffs at such a minute change, unless we’re right at the isoelectric point of the protein in question.

    So, I will say to you again: if life has no problem with rapid, day to day, season to season, swings, it has even less of a problem with a slow TREND. For it is the slow TRENDS, that life is so exquisitely designed to deal with.

  87. Ged,
    The “slow trend” that you talk about is happening possibly 100 x faster than at any other time in the record and a changing pH is just one of the many effects that OA will probably have on the oceans. Your analogies and comparisons are nearly irrelevant, however lets take your blood comparison for a second. You say that small changes (pH scale being logarithmic remember, so .3 isn’t such a small change as it looks) in blood pH aren’t dangerous (which of course they can be), and blood can safely vary between 6.8 and say 7.4 for humans (which is disingenuous as major symptoms would occur before reaching either of those numbers).
    The big problem with your analogy (which is full of them) is that one of your many assumptions is that the oceans pH is right in the middle of its standard variable. What if it isn’t (which it isn’t)? So back to the blood…. Say I am an near the low end for your human “range”. I would already be exhibiting symptoms (which the oceans are) and a further change, at any rate, of .3 pH would cause IRREVERSIBLE cell damage to me. And again, pH is by no means the whole story for the oceans!
    Making sweeping broad assumptions with TOTAL certainty whilst adopting or disowning information depending on if it fits your preconceived certainty gives the impression that you are a “head in the sand” denier (which I hope you aren’t). There is plenty of information, observations and research that gives us great cause for uncertainty and to even the finest mines in the field. Don’t you think yourself arrogant to be so certain when people (much smarter than you) have major concerns. As I said in the previous post I believe skepticism both ways is very healthy, but like many others on this site you seem determined to apply it selectively.

  88. Nick Kermode says:
    January 10, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    “I would disagree that the data is sparse, especially when combined with many other projects involving long term observations. As I said previously the data presented in this paper is interesting but such few stations and such short time frames are not that helpful to the overall picture,…”

    Two other works that support the notion of large scale natural variability of oceanic pH

    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/309/5744/2204.full

    Preindustrial to Modern Interdecadal Variability in Coral Reef pH

    See this graph

    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/309/5744/2204/F2.expansion.html

    And this paper

    http://www.pnas.org/content/105/48/18848.full.pdf+html

    Dynamic patterns and ecological impacts of declining
    ocean pH in a high-resolution multi-year dataset

    which measured pH values over a range from 7.45 to 9 over eight years with the range expanding through every timescale from TOD to full term. See fig. 1 A and B.

  89. Dave,

    Thanks a lot for those references. I was familiar with the Wootton et al 08 paper and there are many others, hence my statement disagreeing the data is sparse. I also stated that natural, quite large variations by season, week or day are nothing new to many scientists (not obviously Jo Nova though). Two things all the research I have read and the papers you referenced have in common is, a declining trend in the data (“The decline is significant” Wootton et al) that is currently most completely explained by the increasing CO2 levels as a result of our energy production etc and no suggestion that our oceans will be fine if the current physically observed trend continues as expected.
    Thanks Dave.

  90. Allan MacRae says:
    January 10, 2012 at 5:51 am

    Interesting data, that provides more evidence for my hypothesis, soon to be elevated to the

    Law of Environmental Nonsense
    “Nothing that 21st Century environmental radicals (aka global warming alarmists) have written is valid. It is all fictitious nonsense, concocted to frighten the gullible public, and unsupported by facts.“
    ….

    Necessarily so. Intrusion of any checkable factual assertions would just lead to more cross-checking, and {POOF!} the whole soap bubble collapses!

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