Ocean acidification: the "evil twin of global warming"

From the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies James Cook University

“Evil twin” threatens world’s oceans, scientists warn

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'Twins" 1988 - Schwarzenegger and DaVito

The rise in human emissions of carbon dioxide is driving fundamental and dangerous changes in the chemistry and ecosystems of the world’s oceans, international marine scientists warned today.

“Ocean conditions are already more extreme than those experienced by marine organisms and ecosystems for millions of years,” the researchers say in the latest issue of the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution (TREE).

“This emphasises the urgent need to adopt policies that drastically reduce CO2 emissions.”

Ocean acidification, which the researchers call the ‘evil twin of global warming’, is caused when the CO2 emitted by human activity, mainly burning fossil fuels, dissolves into the oceans. It is happening independently of, but in combination with, global warming.

“Evidence gathered by scientists around the world over the last few years suggests that ocean acidification could represent an equal – or perhaps even greater threat – to the biology of our planet than global warming,” co-author Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and The University of Queensland says.

More than 30% of the CO2 released from burning fossil fuels, cement production, deforestation and other human activities goes straight into the oceans, turning them gradually more acidic.

“The resulting acidification will impact many forms of sea life, especially organisms whose shells or skeletons are made from calcium carbonate, like corals and shellfish. It may interfere with the reproduction of plankton species which are a vital part of the food web on which fish and all other sea life depend,” he adds.

The scientists say there is now persuasive evidence that mass extinctions in past Earth history, like the “Great Dying” of 251 million years ago and another wipeout 55 million years ago, were accompanied by ocean acidification, which may have delivered the deathblow to many species that were unable to cope with it.

“These past periods can serve as great lessons of what we can expect in the future, if we continue to push the acidity the ocean even further” said lead author, Dr. Carles Pelejero, from ICREA and the Marine Science Institute of CSIC in Barcelona, Spain.

“Given the impacts we see in the fossil record, there is no question about the need to immediately reduce the rate at which we are emitting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” he said further.

“Today, the surface waters of the oceans have already acidified by an average of 0.1 pH units from pre-industrial levels, and we are seeing signs of its impact even in the deep oceans”, said co-author Dr. Eva Calvo, from the Marine Science Institute of CSIC in Barcelona, Spain.

“Future acidification depends on how much CO2 humans emit from here on – but by the year 2100 various projections indicate that the oceans will have acidified by a further 0.3 to 0.4 pH units, which is more than many organisms like corals can stand”, Prof. Hoegh-Guldberg says.

“This will create conditions not seen on Earth for at least 40 million years”.

“These changes are taking place at rates as much as 100 times faster than they ever have over the last tens of millions of years” Prof. Hoegh-Guldberg says.

Under such circumstances “Conditions are likely to become very hostile for calcifying species in the north Atlantic and Pacific over the next decade and in the Southern Ocean over the next few decades,” the researchers warn.

Besides directly impacting on the fishing industry and its contribution to the human food supply at a time when global food demand is doubling, a major die-off in the oceans would affect birds and many land species and change the biology of Earth as a whole profoundly, Prof. Hoegh-Guldberg adds.

Palaeo-perspectives on ocean acidification by Carles Pelejero, Eva Calvo and Ove Hoegh-Guldberg is published in the latest issue of the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution (TREE), number 1232.

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Jason Calley

This site dealing with ocean acidification is well worth reading:
http://www.seafriends.org.nz/issues/global/acid.htm

profligatewaste

These people are nothing if not relentless.

stephen richards

Same old trick. Acidification when they mean less alkaline. A drop of 0.1 ph (I think that is 8.2 to 8.1 ?) . My swimming pool is about 7.2 to 7.6 and remember this is a logarithmic scale and I still get the usual animals in it, like frogs. They like it so much that they mate in it.

rbateman

There must have been huge extinctions in the oceans when the C02 was 20x higher in the geologic past. In fact, life must have evolved, not in the primoridial soup of the oceans, but on land and then crawled to the sea….to dissolve or evolve. They have it backwards. Shellfish came after fish.

Richard Sharpe

I think Dumb and Dumberer would have been a better logo.

Mark_K

“Ocean acidification, which the researchers call the ‘evil twin of global warming’, is caused when the CO2 emitted by human activity, mainly burning fossil fuels, dissolves into the oceans. It is happening independently of, but in combination with, global warming.”
Makes one wonder how the ocean knows the CO2 is the evil CO2 from human activity as opposed to the regular non-evil CO2.

Craig Goodrich

What utter rubbish! When the oceans already contain nearly two orders of magnitude more CO2 than the entire atmosphere, and when the first Earth Science experiment in grammar school is to blow through a straw into a glass of (hard) tapwater and watch the calcium carbonate precipitate out the excess CO2, and when the pH of the water in a tropical lagoon may vary three or more points over the course of a single day, how on earth could these so-called scientists be pushing this nonsense?

hunter

They are asserting bald faced lies. Why?

Eddie

I find this highly unlikely. Marine hobbyist have been dosing their salt water tanks with CO2 for generations without any issues. Where do these guys come up with some of these alarmist predictions. 0.3pH units is nothing to coral or fish life. pH in a marine tank can swing more than that on a single day from lights on to lights off. I’m no marine biologist but was an active hobbyist for over 5 years.

Yarmy

Does not ‘evil twin of global warming’ imply that global warming is the good twin?

kim

CO2 failed to warm the globe and it will fail to acidify the oceans. Increased CO2 enables the mechanisms which sequester CO2. This is a self-solving problem.
=======

Ed Murphy

They’re desperate, meanwhile…
Undersea volcano threatens southern Italy
http://au.news.yahoo.com/a/-/world/6999229/undersea-volcano-threatens-southern-italy-report/
ROME (AFP) – Europe’s largest undersea volcano could disintegrate and unleash a tsunami that would engulf southern Italy “at any time”, a prominent vulcanologist warned in an interview published Monday.
The Marsili volcano, which is bursting with magma, has “fragile walls” that could collapse, Enzo Boschi told the leading daily Corriere della Sera.
“It could even happen tomorrow,” said Boschi, president of the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV).
“Our latest research shows that the volcano is not structurally solid, its walls are fragile, the magma chamber is of sizeable dimensions,” he said. “All that tells us that the volcano is active and could begin erupting at any time.”
The event would result in “a strong tsunami that could strike the coasts of Campania, Calabria and Sicily,” Boschi said.
The undersea Marsili, 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) tall and located some 150 kilometres (90 miles) southwest of Naples, has not erupted since the start of recorded history.
It is 70 kilometres long and 30 kilometres wide, and its crater is some 450 metres below the surface of the Tyrrhenian Sea.
“A rupture of the walls would let loose millions of cubic metres of material capable of generating a very powerful wave,” Boschi said.
“While the indications that have been collected are precise, it is impossible to make predictions. The risk is real but hard to evaluate.”

Mr. J

I guess we’re supposed to believe that the oceans of the ancient Earth were acidic then?

I’m curious, how many fossil fueled generating plants were in use 40 million years ago?? How many SUVs?? Must have been Wooly Manmouth farts…….
pRadio

This article is obviously geared toward grant-begging. Ocean pH varies a lot, naturally. And because the oceans hold an enormous amount of carbon dioxide compared to the atmosphere, and since human CO2 contributions to the atmosphere are minuscule, ignorant statements like “…by the year 2100 various projections indicate that the oceans will have acidified by a further 0.3 to 0.4 pH units, which is more than many organisms like corals can stand” are pure fear-mongering. These folks just want to get on the grant gravy train.
Ocean pH constantly varies all over the map: click
That chart goes back 5,200 years – well before the first SUV was born.

What “crystal ball” are these people looking at? Perhaps they need to retake high school chemistry.

Steve Goddard

Monterey Bay pH hasn’t changed since they started taking measurements in 1996
http://sanctuarymonitoring.org/regional_docs/monitoring_projects/100240_167.pdf

James Evans

“Given the impacts we see in the fossil record, there is no question about the need to immediately reduce the rate at which we are emitting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,”
What sort of science is this? That’s really just one of thew stupidist things I’ve read so far from the warmists.
We must “immediately reduce” carbon emissions, because the fossil record tells us that species have become extinct in the last few hundreds of millions of years.

They don’t seem to have a clue about CO2 chemistry in the oceans that contain so much sodium, calcium, magnesium, lithium, zinc and other basic elements. Sulfur dioxide was the most likely cause of past extinctions.

Alan the Brit

“These changes are taking place at rates as much as 100 times faster than they ever have over the last tens of millions of years” Prof. Hoegh-Guldberg says?
Go on then, tell us just how much faster it REALLY is changing! Somehow I don’t think I believe it. So an element really can emit & absorb the same gas at one & the same time! How much CO2 do they claim is emitted from the oceans into the atmosphere because of warming seas due to Global Warming? Last time I looked the so-called rate of “acidification” was so small that it would have taken over 3½ thousand years to reach pH neutral if ever!
Mark_K (08:47:58) :-)) Because manmade CO2 is a dirty black & ugly monster-like gas as we’ve seen on UK Govs highly accurate peer-reviewed science based adverts! Simples!

Thomas J. Arnold.

Yes but;
http://www.co2science.org/articles/V13/N9/EDIT.php
A good article with references worth looking up.

H2SO4 (sulfuric acid) forms in the atmosphere from SO3 from unscrubbed coal plant emissions and is responsible for acid rain.
China has a lot of unscrubbed coal plants. The US used to as well. I wonder whether this source of acidification is significant.
These sorts of scaremongering papers certainly don’t ever mention it.

R. de Haan

The Cook University cooking the books again!

DonK31

Most of these reefs did not exist, at least in their present locations, 15000 years ago. The area where they now exist was dry land before the great global warming that melted most of the ice cap and raised sea levels 300 ft. Like climate, ocean conditions are never static.

George E. Smith

That short chap looks just like Danny de Vito. I could be wrong about that.
With all the limestone sitting in and around the world’s oceans, wouldn’t one think a little carbon dioxide wouldn’t make much difference ?

George E. Smith

Didn’t Jane Lubchenko do an experiment to show that corals can grow in ordinary tap water, so long as you dye it blue and don’t chill it with dry ice ?

Gerard

Have they any idea of the amount of acid dumped by the great smokers on the mid ocean ridges? They release water with a pH as low as 2.8 and still have abundant life around them.

John Innes

Aren’t they neglecting the buffering action of dissolved bases in the sea water? As I understand it, correct me if I am wrong, if the water becomes more acid, some of the carbonic acid will decompose back to carbon dioxide and water, moving back towards the original balance. We are playing here with a complex soup, not a classroom experiment with distilled water. Can someone please paint a clearer picture than I can?

DesertYote

Absolute BS. Marine PH has NOT budged at all. These guys are either morons or more likely liars.

Peter Miller

Absolute BS.
How can a very weak acid like carbonic acid (H2CO3) react with calcium carbonate (CaCO3), the stuff which corals etc. are mostly made off? It is just not chemically possible.
Also, if you do the maths: if all the carbon dioxide produced by man was absorbed by the oceans – which it isn’t, then it would take 50 years to increase the oceans’ CO2 content by one part per million.
Even our ’eminent climate scientists’ Patchi and Gore wouldn’t spout such garbage – or, silly me – would they?
Ocean acidification, if it occurs on a global basis, is caused by gigantic amounts of sulphuric acid laden volcanic ash from flow basalt lavas erupting over tens of thousands of years – in these instances, many thousands of square kilometres of the planet’s surface are buried under several kilometres of lava. Now that’s real climate change!
Like similar comments in earlier posts: ” I smell a big, fat, juicy grant.”

bedlam

Ove has been predicting disaster for coral reefs for some years now due to mmgw and ocean acidity, particularly in the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. His predictions have been consistently wrong, the GBR is still thriving and the only reef in trouble is near Brisbane , where the sea/air temperatures are cooler.

stan stendera

The stupidy is stupefying

TerryS

Ocean acidification, which the researchers call the ‘evil twin of global warming’, is caused when the CO2 emitted by human activity, mainly burning fossil fuels, dissolves into the oceans.

And there was me thinking that anthropogenic CO2 stayed in the atmosphere for hundreds of years.

theduke

These guys obviously didn’t get the memo from Yale Environment 360. They remain stuck in the old paradigm.

Sam the Skeptic

hunter (08:52:34) :
They are asserting bald faced lies. Why?

Because the global warming scare has stopped working and they need to wind up the next one in plenty of time. Why else?

rbateman

Ed Murphy (08:57:07) :
They haven’t yet figured out how to blame volcanoes, earthquakes and asteroid impacts on human activity.
Give them time, and they’ll be wanting to sacrifice to the Gods. They’re just about halfway there in a natural progression. This is what happens when man trades the knowledge of how the world really works for shamanistic fearmongering. It’s all about control.

Pat Moffitt

0.1 pH compared to a hundred years ago! I would seriously question any average pH reading that was +/- 0.1 taken today and the fact he concludes an ocean pH average in this range is about as suspect as an average global temperature. pH measurement is highly dependent on how much CO2 was driven off prior to measurement as well as a host of instrument and calibration variables. The pH can also change far more than this value as the result of the switch in the chemistry of photosynthesis between day and night Perhaps Dr. Cook should also look at EPAs range of “acceptable values” in the lab the certification process for pH.
It is relevant that Dr. Cook brings back the acidification issue– computer models proved the acid rain “crisis”. The models demanded we control SO2 to restore the pH of our rivers and lakes. We controlled SO2 however 20 years later there was no significant improvement in pH. Why? Because the models incorrectly assumed a titration process of acidity caused by acid rain when in reality the majority of the acid input was dissolved organic acids from biological processes. Ironically, the failure of pH improvement is now blamed on global warming speeding up these biological processes. The NAPAP report on acid rain actually said the acid rain theory was wrong– and for there efforts Dr Kulp was removed as the director and Ed Krug smeared and blacklisted by EPA. EPA also refused to release the NAPAP’s report until after Congress passed the acid rain legislation and Congress never asked for the report. Climate Change is Acid Rain Redux.
It is outrageous to compare the Permian extinction and the associated ocean acidification to anything happening now. The end of the Permian (his 251MYA reference) saw the largest flood basalt eruption in earth’s history spewing out material that covered some 2 million square kilometers. And along with it massive amounts of SO2 and H2S– the Permian most likely had far more to do with H2SO4 than CO2- and we are comparing loadings into the atmosphere that are orders of magnitude apart. Some “scientists” clearly have no shame.

Henry chance

Manufacture a threat. Then tax people that work to provide a solution.
Joe Romm was ranting on this some time back. He had some fat research that made the claims. For some strange reason, the article had nothing about the Ph of the ocean. When I asked what the ph factor was, the question was deleted.
Volcanoes. Limestone run off calciuum carbonate contact. There are many factors that can influence the alkaline ph factor.
Being or containing an acid; of a solution having an excess of hydrogen atoms (having a pH of less than 7) ”
As ocean temps rise, the oceans give off more CO2.
Like they say, the anti science mis informers have to write stufff for their adherents also.

pat

Again we have projections so far in the future that there is no accountability. No present evidence, only conjecture of disaster.

hunter (08:52:34) :
They are asserting bald faced lies. Why?
The same reasons all the *other* politicians do — because they can.

Tony Price

As I understand it, the atmospheric CO2/ocean system is in equilibrium, and the CO2 is held in the water as bicarbonate, not carbonic acid. More CO2 in the ocean will INCREASDE pH, not reduce it. If the oceans, for some reason, DO get less alkaline, calcium carbonate will react & form bicarbonate, maintaining the equilibrrium. I’m certainly not an expert, but Dennis Nikols is right – they need to brush up on their chemistry.
“More than 30% of the CO2 released from burning fossil fuels, cement production, deforestation and other human activities goes straight into the oceans, turning them gradually more acidic.”
Oh yeah? Where do they get THAT little liestistic from? Are there signposts all over the place “This way to the ocean”?

Mark T

stephen richards (08:41:22) :
Same old trick. Acidification when they mean less alkaline.
Yeah, it’s not a straight line, it’s more like a parabola, so getting less alkaline is not the same as getting more acidic. Go “below” 7 and the ratio reverses from that “above” 7.
What is interesting, or sad, is that the idiots, er, “scientists,” that keep saying “acidification” know that it is not true.
Mark

Larus

The ignorance of some of the commenters here is staggering. Increased acidification is a problem not to fish but to the tiny organisms that build calcium-based shells (and seqester CO2 in the process as the carbon in their shells sinks to the bottom when they die). As the acidification goes on, the ocean may lose some of its potential as a carbon sink. This has happened befoe in the distant past. You people ought to be ashamed of your knee-jerk groupthink.

higley7

“Ocean conditions are already more extreme than those experienced by marine organisms and ecosystems for millions of years,” What liars they are. They have no clue, this is opinion and speculation. Geocarb III shows this to be wrong.
““This will create conditions not seen on Earth for at least 40 million years”.” You’re kidding!
It is sad how little these people know about marine biology as well as the CO2 history in the atmosphere. CO2 was much higher even as recently as the 1940s.
““These changes are taking place at rates as much as 100 times faster than they ever have over the last tens of millions of years” Prof. Hoegh-Guldberg says.”
Very unlikely, but there is no way that this can be established – more opinion and speculation.
Marine organisms are much more tolerant of pH than these alarmists would like us to think. For the coralline ecosystems, CO2 is food for both photosynthesis and coral building. Any acidity from CO2 will have no effect on the solubility of calcium carbonate as a product of an equilibrium cannot affect its own equilibrium.
What these clowns ignore is that only an outside source of acidity, such as hydrochloric acid, can affect the extended equilibrium from CO2 to carbonic acid to carbonate to calcium carbonate. And seawater in the tropics is supersaturated with calcium carbonate, so additional CO2 will necessarily promote cementation/precipitation.
Also, the oceans have a historical pH range and they are still well within that range. I defy these alarmists to show the effects “even in the deep oceans” – there are too many other, larger factors. Furthermore, the oceans comprise a complex buffer system that will resist the changes they fantasize about.
Doing experiments on distilled water does not realistically emulate ocean water. And doing experiments on ocean water does not emulate ocean water with its organisms. Photosynthesis is an alkalizing process which can change the ocean’s pH by several units during a day. With this reality and more CO2, we can conclude two things” (1) most marine organisms can tolerate a surprisingly wide range of pH and (2) added CO2 makes them metabolically stronger and more tolerant of pH changes.
To claim that a 0.1 pH unit change has already caused detectable changes in the oceans’ marine life begs the question of how they separate the effects of such a small change in such a variable pH environment from the pH noise caused by all other processes, including living organisms, and also separating this small effect from all of the other parameters that have mostly greater effects. I find their conclusion entirely unacceptable.
This is like the concept of thirdhand smoke – the idea that coming home from having been in a room with smoke, i. e., smoke on your clothing, is enough to raise the risk of lung cancer in your children. There is no way that the effects of such a small, negligible factor can be separated from all of the other variables in human lives and activities.
The Cliffs of Dover were built by coral building during time with much higher CO2 than now.
This is another case of grasping at straws, trying to save the cap and trade/tax movement by finding another fear or disaster to promote.
Life is much more durable and adaptable – wait! – they left that part out. Organisms adapt! Of course, they say that these changes are occurring faster than ever to rule out adaption but CO2 rose faster in the 1930s and 1940s than it is today.
Their garbage never ends. We just have to keep spraying to cancel out the odor.

Myron Mesecke

It’s DeVito not DaVito.

Enneagram

We are becoming more acidified from global warmers, our patience is about to blow out, baking soda (btw sodium bicarbonate) does not work anymore…The next global warmer I see……

Dave

Suggests, could and perhaps all in the same sentence. I suggest that this could, perhaps, be the most weasely statement seen in a while.
“Evidence gathered by scientists around the world over the last few years suggests that ocean acidification could represent an equal – or perhaps even greater threat – to the biology of our planet than global warming,” co-author Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and The University of Queensland says.

Don Shaw

Amazing when they need it to justify a theory, the CAGW crowd claim that CO2 hangs around for centuries, while on the other hand they also claim that CO2 is building up in the Oceans and they claim “acification”.
Is it possible they could have it both ways?

Henry chance

Muratic acid, oxacilic acid or hydrochloric acid work to get the algae and moss off my boat’s bottom. If the oceans go all acidic, I won’t need to use acid.
Did I add to the ocean acidity when i rinsed off the acid and it went into the water?
We need to pin these people down. Every time I try, they back peddle and call it a scenario instead of a solid prediction.
My favorite Obama economist is named
Rosie Scenario PhD.

Frank Lansner