On noes! CO2 dissolving snails in Antarctica

From the British Antarctic Survey  and the University of East Anglia comes one of those press releases where I just have to wonder if this won’t eventually go the way of the “global warming causes mutated frogs” claim that turned out to be a parasite and not global warming. After all, it is well known that ships ballast can transport invasive species to places they normally would not migrate to, so with eco-tourism in Antarctica being all the rage now, I wonder if the issue isn’t somehow related to the snails being more susceptible due to some such influence? After all, how did they survive climate shifts (with changes to ocean pH) for millions of years if nature so poorly equipped them? I’m just not convinced that a slight shift (-0.11) to the ocean pH being more neutral than basic is the cause of this. The oceans are still basic at ~8.069, not acidic. To be acidic they’d have to be less than 7.0 See table.

On the plus side, they avoided that ridiculous “canary in the coal mine” meme in this PR.

First evidence of ocean acidification affecting live marine creatures in the Southern Ocean

The expedition ship: The RRS James Clark Ross underway in Antarctica

The shells of marine snails – known as pteropods – living in the seas around Antarctica are being dissolved by ocean acidification according to a new study published this week in the journal Nature Geoscience. These tiny animals are a valuable food source for fish and birds and play an important role in the oceanic carbon cycle*.

During a science cruise in 2008, researchers from British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and the University of East Anglia (UEA), in collaboration with colleagues from the US Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), discovered severe dissolution of the shells of living pteropods in Southern Ocean waters.

The team examined an area of upwelling, where winds cause cold water to be pushed upwards from the deep to the surface of the ocean. Upwelled water is usually more corrosive to a particular type of calcium carbonate (aragonite) that pteropods use to build their shells. The team found that as a result of the additional influence of ocean acidification, this corrosive water severely dissolved the shells of pteropods.

Above: before and after images.

Ocean acidification is caused by the uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere emitted as a result of fossil fuel burning. A number of laboratory experiments have demonstrated the potential effect of ocean acidification on marine organisms. However, to date, there has been little evidence of such impacts occurring to live specimens in their natural environment. The finding supports predictions that the impact of ocean acidification on marine ecosystems and food webs may be significant.

Lead author, Dr Nina Bednaršek, formerly of BAS and UEA, and now of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says:

“We know that the seawater becomes more corrosive to aragonite shells below a certain depth – called the ‘saturation horizon’ – which occurs at around 1000m depth. However, at one of our sampling sites, we discovered that this point was reached at 200m depth, through a combination of natural upwelling and ocean acidification. Marine snails – pteropods – live in this top layer of the ocean. The corrosive properties of the water caused shells of live animals to be severely dissolved and this demonstrates how vulnerable pteropods are. Ocean acidification, resulting from the addition of human-induced carbon dioxide, contributed to this dissolution. ”

Co-author and science cruise leader, Dr Geraint Tarling from BAS, says:

“Although the upwelling sites are natural phenomena that occur throughout the Southern Ocean, instances where they bring the ‘saturation horizon’ above 200m will become more frequent as ocean acidification intensifies in the coming years. As one of only a few oceanic creatures that build their shells out of aragonite in the polar regions, pteropods are an important food source for fish and birds as well as a good indicator of ecosystem health. The tiny snails do not necessarily die as a result of their shells dissolving, however it may increase their vulnerability to predation and infection consequently having an impact to other parts of the food web.”

Co-author, Dr Dorothee Bakker from the University of East Anglia, says:

“Climate models project a continued intensification in Southern Ocean winds throughout the 21st century if atmospheric carbon dioxide continues to increase. In turn, this will increase wind-driven upwelling and potentially make instances of deep water – which is under-saturated in aragonite – penetrating into the upper ocean more frequent. Current predictions are for the ‘saturation horizon’ for aragonite to reach the upper surface layers of the Southern Ocean by 2050 in winter and by 2100 year round. ”

This research was funded by the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the European Union Marie Curie Early Stage Training Network.

###

Extensive dissolution of live pteropods in the Southern Ocean by N. Bednaršek, G. A. Tarling, D. C. E. Bakker, S. Fielding, E. M. Jones, H. J. Venables, P. Ward, A.Kuzirian, B. Lézé, R. A. Feely, and E. H. Murphy is published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Abstract:

The carbonate chemistry of the surface ocean is rapidly changing with ocean acidification, a result of human activities1. In the upper layers of the Southern Ocean, aragonite—a

metastable form of calcium carbonate with rapid dissolution kinetics—may become undersaturated by 2050 (ref. 2). Aragonite undersaturation is likely to affect aragonite-shelled organisms, which can dominate surface water communities in polar regions3. Here we present analyses of specimens of the pteropod Limacina helicina antarctica that were extracted live from the Southern Ocean early in 2008. We sampled from the top 200m of the water column, where aragonite saturation levels are around 1 as upwelled deep water is mixed with surface water containing anthropogenic CO2. Comparing the shell structure with samples from aragonite-supersaturated regions elsewhere under a scanning electron microscope, we found severe levels of shell dissolution in the undersaturated region but not elsewhere. According to laboratory incubations of intact samples with a range of aragonite saturation levels, eight days of incubation in aragonite saturation levels of 0.94–1.12 produced equivalent levels of dissolution. As deep-water upwelling and CO2 absorption by surface waters is likely to increase as a result of human activities2,4, we conclude that upper ocean regions where aragonite-shelled organisms are affected by dissolution are likely to expand.

The paper is available here: ftp://ftp.nerc-bas.ac.uk/pub/photo/PR-2012-13-Tarling/ngeo1635_GT%20edits.pdf

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Bloke down the pub

And of course they can compare their findings to surveys that were carried out when CO₂ was only 280ppm. What do you mean, they can’t?

tadchem

“Ocean acidification is caused by the uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere emitted as a result of fossil fuel burning.”
Wrong in several ways, and irrelevant.
If the *upwelling* is destroying the shells, then it is important to examine the cause of the *upwelling* itself. This is due to the Archimedes effect – the upwelling water is less dense. This could be due to many reasons – lower salinity and higher temperatures being the principal suspects.
The next question is why the water that is upwelling is dissolving the shells that formed in the cool surface waters (where the shells formed in the first place). If the upwelling water (coming from an area – the ocean floor – that is not accessible to atmospheric CO2) is more acidic than the high-CO2 surface water, then the question becomes “Where is the deep water acidity coming from?”
May I suggest geothermal vents such as black smokers, and other ocean floor volcanic activity?

Mike M

Hold on a minute there, I’m confused. HOW does global warming cause the Southern Ocean Wind to intensify? It was my casual understanding that the temperature difference between the polar regions and the tropics decreases as the planet gets warmer? If I’m correct about that why do models show an increase in wind as the result of less temperature difference?

Jit

Note that wiki says the shells of these beasts are 2-9 microns thick. Not very structural, maybe vestigial.

Although the upwelling sites are natural phenomena that occur throughout the Southern Ocean, instances where they bring the ‘saturation horizon’ above 200m will become more frequent as ocean acidification intensifies in the coming years.”
Aha! The giveaway sentence! The saturation horizon rising up to less than 200m depth is a natural phenomenon which occurs throughout the Southern Ocean. The assertion that CO2 dissolving in the surface of the ocean will increase the frequency of this phenomenon is made without any evidence whatsoever. Indeed, it is difficult to understand how a gas dissolving at the surface of a very large body of water could have any bearing on what happens 3000 feet below the surface!

hum

Wow, they are being acidified and dissolving at 8.0. I wonder how fast they would dissolve in that very acidic in comparison environment of pure H2O at 7.0 on the scale? Yup prbably melt right before our eyes, you know that water is dangerous stuff.

R. Shearer

Argonite likes to collect in the shallows from deep water updrafts, e.g. in the Bahamas where it is mined via dredging. http://aragonitesource.com/

“Co-author and science cruise leader”
Sorry, just can’t get the “Love Boat” theme out of my head now.

Mike Fowle

I love the idea that all these earnest worthy self righteous researchers might themselves be spreading the problem while they solemnly lecture the rest of us….

Mark and two Cats

Pteropod shell game. The global warming pea is now under the ocean acidification shell.

Terry

mmmm….one instance of upwelling at 200m out of how many ? How many other instances have there been before. Ah ha now I see….”Climate models project an intensification…” Thats when I stopped reading.

Mike Bromley the Kurd

I know this is a press release. I must repeat that to myself. But:
“Ocean acidification is caused by the uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere emitted as a result of fossil fuel burning. A number of laboratory experiments have demonstrated the potential effect of ocean acidification on marine organisms. However, to date, there has been little evidence of such impacts occurring to live specimens in their natural environment. The finding supports predictions that the impact of ocean acidification on marine ecosystems and food webs may be significant.”
This is a statement of “fact”??? The first sentence is so far-flung as to get entangled in the moons of Jupiter. Absolutely no foundation in fact whatsoever. Corrosive upwelling?? How did all that “acid” make it down to the nutrient rich depths..? By passing through a huge natural buffer? Now back to the assertion that “there has been little evidence”. Well, that’s true. What with things like carbonate compensation depths and the small issue of the ocean’s basic pH…
Reading this stuff is really agonizing. There are no real ‘findings’ just speculation that corroded shells are proof of model results. A “potential effect” is undemonstratable, you sillies.

So, on the basis of 20 samples of tiny snails taken from a single site, from a total of 55 samples taken from a total of 6 sites along a 600-mile-plus route, all taken in February, 2008, plus a dash of climate modeling, they leap to the conclusion that burning fossil fuels is increasing “acidification” of the oceans (to be slightly less basic), that this increased acidification will become more prevalent at shallower depths (where the snails tend to live), that winds (that apparently aggravate this prevalence) will intensify as atmospheric CO2 increases, which is the one and only reason that this species of snail has weak shells?

Mark

tadchem says:
If the *upwelling* is destroying the shells, then it is important to examine the cause of the *upwelling* itself. This is due to the Archimedes effect – the upwelling water is less dense. This could be due to many reasons – lower salinity and higher temperatures being the principal suspects.
Water’s a bit odd in that it is most dense at 4 Celsius. Does this effect still hold for salt water.
The next question is why the water that is upwelling is dissolving the shells that formed in the cool surface waters (where the shells formed in the first place). If the upwelling water (coming from an area – the ocean floor – that is not accessible to atmospheric CO2) is more acidic than the high-CO2 surface water, then the question becomes “Where is the deep water acidity coming from?”
There’s nothing in the original article to indicate that they have done so much as dangle a pH meter over the side of a boat. Never mind carrying out a detailed chemical analysis of the water. Especially to compare it with water in which the animals thrive.
May I suggest geothermal vents such as black smokers, and other ocean floor volcanic activity?
Especially given that release of strong acids is commonly associated with vulcanism.

Brian Johnson uk

Ah! The magic “May” is used as ‘Proof” by implication.
Grant money seekers will make up any story to gain the gelt/gelder/gold/geld…….
Frankly they need gelding!

john robertson

Translation, coulda,woulda we don’t have a clue. But be very,very worried. Lets see, yes all living at expense of taxpayer and attempting to create(manufacture) another alarm to justify their parasitism.Interesting that follow the money, keeps returning to our employees attacking us.
Your opinion of your government and its minions will never be higher than it is right now.

Gail Combs

tadchem says:
November 26, 2012 at 10:44 am
…. The next question is why the water that is upwelling is dissolving the shells that formed in the cool surface waters (where the shells formed in the first place). If the upwelling water (coming from an area – the ocean floor – that is not accessible to atmospheric CO2) is more acidic than the high-CO2 surface water, then the question becomes “Where is the deep water acidity coming from?”
May I suggest geothermal vents such as black smokers, and other ocean floor volcanic activity?
________________________________
Yes and if I recall The life-forms that support the food chain at deep-sea hydrothermal vents also participate in the formation of the minerals that make up the sulfide chimney structures…. The bacteria oxidate the sulfur and hydrogen sulfide to sulfur acid.
Scientists Locate Apparent Hydrothermal Vents off Antarctica

…By analyzing thousands of oceanographic measurements, she and her Lamont colleagues pinpointed six spots on the remote Pacific Antarctic Ridge, about 2,000 miles from New Zealand, the closest inhabited country, and 1,000 miles from the west coast of Antarctica, where they think vents are likely to be found….

Maybe they should be looking for vents instead of blaming CO2.

Gary

Logic fail. Upwelled water is deep water brought to the surface. This means it’s “old water” that hasn’t been near the surface since the beginning of the recent rise in CO2 (last 100 years). It’s less basic than surface waters because of increased CO2 from deep water biological processes and possibly volcanic input. Shoddy work.

Gail Combs

Mike M says:
November 26, 2012 at 10:45 am
Hold on a minute there, I’m confused. HOW does global warming cause the Southern Ocean Wind to intensify?….
_______________________
It is not warming. The lies and data fiddling are coming back to bite.

scizzorbill

Looks like they chipped the shell or found one in poor condition, then took the pic. False assumptions abound like ocean acidification. In 1930, the ocean PH was 7.9. The ocean is alkaline. Human caused CO2 emissions. Is that different than non human caused CO2? The current rise in CO2 is more likely a natural rise from the MWP 1,000 yrs ago. NOAA’s involvement = corrupt manipulated data. I don’t believe any of this.
Amazing that these grant slurping embezzlers calling themselves scientists can keep the gravy train rolling.

RockyRoad

So this means snails can build shells only during those short geologic periods in which atmospheric is at or near a minimum? I wonder how all the others survived throughout geologic time?

RockyRoad

…atmospheric CO2 is at…
(sorry for the omission)

The British Antarctic Survey was once a well respected research organisation, but the AGW brigade have brainwashed them into spouting drivel.
On the lighter side, this is yet another gem that I can relate to people with regard to the rubbish we are told about “Climate Change”, the others are deaf fish and invasion by aliens who regard us as a threat to the galaxy for abusing our own planet!
Anthony, could we please have an archive on WUWT devoted to the most crazy claims of AGW “scientists”? There could be an annual prize for the most bizarre piece of “research” based on votes by WUWT readers.

In the CAGW business ‘timing’ is everything. It’s a fundamental law of PR and the Warmists play the PR game brilliantly. The intense activity of people like Mc Kibben every time there’s a storm is a good example of this technique.
In the Warmist PR calendar this is the time of the year we start talking about Antarctica. (Summer)
Oh dear…from the Warmist perspective the news aint too good from down there; lots of ice and very cold. Warmish Brethren in Australia and South Africa haven’t had much to cheer them either(this being the coolest winter in a generation in many parts).
So the poor Scien…sorry Activists need to come up with something appropriate and scary that fits in with the narrative. Ocean Acidification anyone?
Thanks…that will do nicely.

mib8
lurker, passing through laughing

Actually this is a well documented event. It happens wherever deep water is forced up from time to time. This happens in Oregon, for instance. AGW promoters lied about the Oregon event as well.
A better title for the article would be “Lying AGW Promoters and The Lies They Tell.
WUWT actually dealt with this particular AGW fibbing poly before:
http://e360.yale.edu/feature/northwest_oyster_die-offs_show_ocean_acidification_has_arrived/2466/

MarkW

If the problem is caused by upwelling of deep waters, then how did the CO2 get into the deep waters. Most of those take hundreds to thousands of years to over turn.

Admad

“Lead author, Dr Nina Bednaršek, formerly of BAS and UEA…” I think the UEA connection kind of devalues any conclusions from that quarter.

ChrisM

Pteropods or more correctly marine opisthobranch gastropods, appeared on Earth in the Cenozoic era when Carbon Dioxide levels have been shown to be around 1000pp not the 380pp of today so three times higher than at present. They seemed to have thrived in conditions that these Scientist say will destroy them.

Kev-in-Uk

techgm says:
November 26, 2012 at 11:46 am
my thoughts exactly……..

Louis Hooffstetter

The carbonate compensation depth (CCD) is the depth at which calcareous skeletons of marine animals dissolve at the same rate at which they accumulate. This depth is controlled by factors including (but not limited to) the concentration of carbonate ions, pH, water pressure, temperature, and salinity. This fluctuating equilibrium depth is called the “lysocline”. Below the lysocline, calcium carbonate dissolution becomes progressively more intense.
This is just more bad science from the University of East Anglia. The authors have examined a miniscule amount of data and drawn the wrong conclusion. They agree natural upwelling throughout the Southern Ocean influences the depth of the lysocline. As others have pointed out, upwelling of ancient, deep waters rich in dissolved minerals and nutrients is what makes the Southern Ocean so productive. The authors simply discovered an area where intense wind driven upwelling pulls the lysocline to less than 200m depth; no surprise there! There is no data connecting human activities, atmospheric CO2 levels, ocean acidification, upwelling, and the depth of the lysocline.
If they want to test the theory that “Climate models project a continued intensification in Southern Ocean winds throughout the 21st century…” that will allow the lysocline to reach the upper surface layers of the Southern Ocean by 2050, they need to map and monitor the lysocline to see if it rises.

pat

bbc radio was airing this last nite and all MSM, including Fox News, is running it now. bbc radio had no hint of the humour in the final line here:
26 Nov: BBC: Risk of robot uprising wiping out human race to be studied
The Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER) will study dangers posed by biotechnology, artificial life, nanotechnology and climate change…
The CSER project has been co-founded by Cambridge philosophy professor Huw Price, cosmology and astrophysics professor Martin Rees and Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn…
Survival of the human race permitting, the centre will launch next year.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-20501091
26 Nov: RTT News: Cambridge Univ To Open Center For “terminator-like Studies”
Cambridge University will open a center for “terminator-like studies”, a facility which will be focused on understanding the “four greatest threats” to mankind, given as artificial intelligence, nuclear war, climate change and rogue biotechnology.
The Centre for the study of External Risk or CSER will be co-launched by astronomer royal Lord Rees, a leading cosmologist. The center will bring together academics from a wide range of disciplines, including astronomy, biology, robotics, neuroscience and even philosophy and economics.
Rees is the man who warned that mankind could destroy itself completely by the year 2100. He is launching the center alongside Huw Price, a philosophy professor at Cambridge. Also an integral part of the program is Skype co-founder, Jaan Tallinn…
http://www.rttnews.com/2011768/cambridge-univ-to-open-center-for-terminator-like-studies.aspx?type=gag
26 Nov: Fox News from The Sun: ‘Terminator center’ to open at Cambridge University
The Center for the Study of Existential Risk is being co-launched by astronomer royal Lord Rees, one of the world’s leading cosmologists. It will probe the “four greatest threats” to the human species, given as: artificial intelligence, climate change, nuclear war and rogue biotechnology…
“There’s a mismatch between public perception of very different risks and their actual seriousness,” Rees added. “We fret unduly about carcinogens in food, train crashes and low-level radiation.
“But we are in denial about ‘low-probability high-consequence’ events that should concern us more and which, in our ever more interconnected world, could have global consequences.”..
http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2012/11/26/terminator-center-to-open-at-cambridge-university/
26 Nov: Guardian: Martin Rees: Cambridge University’s “Terminator studies” department – do we really need it?
Cambridge University is to launch a centre for the study of existential risks to the human race – including the rogue robot scenario depicted in the Terminator films. The astronomer royal, co-founder of the centre, explains why it’s necessary.
Over most of history, threats have come from nature – disease, earthquakes, floods, and so forth. But the worst now come from us. We’ve entered a geological era called the anthropocene…
Some global hazards are insidious. They stem from pressure on energy supplies, food, water and other natural resources. And they will be aggravated as the population rises to a projected nine billion by mid-century, and by the effects of climate change. An “ecological shock” could irreversibly degrade our environment.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/shortcuts/2012/nov/26/cambridge-university-terminator-studies

Interesting that these things (thecosomata) first appear in the fossil record relatively shortly before the PETM (first appearing in the late Paleocene) and survived CO2 levels of around 2000 ppm.

Seems clear from the study’s own description that the dissolution is primarily from the natural upwelling. Their claim that “human-induced carbon dioxide contributed to this dissolution,” seems to be purely theoretical. CO2 uptake should have some dissolving effect but they have no indication that it is at all significant on had any measurable effect in this instance.
It is also purely theoretical that these natural upwellings will increase, and the occurance of a natural upwelling is certainly not evidence that such events are on the increase.

H.R.

Ban dihydrogenmonoxide! Problem solved.

jono1066

“These tiny animals are a valuable food source for fish and birds and play an important role in the oceanic carbon cycle,”
This is good ! no ?
Food chain is improved by weaker shells as more easily caught and more easily broken up to digest the poor creature inside and should any of the dear fishes start digesting the shell itself then this would be easier as well. The resulting increase in the size of the food chain predators should be easy to determine .
Can we coin a new name for `shellfish` that aren`t ?

Don

This suggests a new defense against FOIA requests: “The CO2 ate my homework.”

Stephen Skinner

I don’t understand why there is a persistence with this message about ocean acidification and why there appears too little scrutiny of this meme particularly from the press. For my own benefit I found myself checking again something that I already understand which is this for example:
http://www.elmhurst.edu/~chm/vchembook/184ph.html
“Introduction and Definitions:
Acidic and basic are two extremes that describe a chemical property chemicals. Mixing acids and bases can cancel out or neutralize their extreme effects. A substance that is neither acidic nor basic is neutral.
The pH scale measures how acidic or basic a substance is. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14. A pH of 7 is neutral. A pH less than 7 is acidic. A pH greater than 7 is basic.”
I understand this to mean the greatest corrosiveness will be at opposite ends of the PH scale; PH0 and PH14.
Although the PH scale runs from 0 to 14 this does not describe the fact that the PH scale is logarithmic but not starting from PH0 but from PH7 and outwards in opposite direstions.
This surely means corrosiveness can be described with a parabola. That way we can see that if the oceans are becoming more corrosive then either they are becoming more basic (alkaline) or there is an input of acidic water from somewhere.
“A number of laboratory experiments have demonstrated the potential effect of ocean acidification on marine organisms.”
What was the PH of those experiments and has that PH been observed in the real world?

Alex the skeptic

This is all the usual annual pre-hyping for the climate-fest-orgy COP 18 being held at the global warming state of Qatar, the highest per-capita CO2 emitter.
All delegates will suffer from heat stroke, thus, what with the effect on their mental capacity and the 45C temperature they would anyway feel, the scammers will hope that the delegates would vote for keeping the AGW hypothesis and the trillions of dollars that come with it on life support.
I have come to learn that each year, October and November see a surge of global warmist reports full of hyped up catastrophic predictions of climate doom.

Mark

scizzorbill says:
Looks like they chipped the shell or found one in poor condition, then took the pic. False assumptions abound like ocean acidification. In 1930, the ocean PH was 7.9.
I’ve just seen someone elsewhere claim that it was ~8.25 in 1751 and 8.14 in 1994. Not sure what they had in the 18th century which could possibly have measured pH to two decimal places. Consider a value of 7.9 in 1930 leads to a conclusion of either “Ocean pH varies slightly over time, possibly following some cycle, it’s ~8 which is slightly alkaline.” or “Different methods of measuring the pH of ocean water can return slightly different results.”

I’ve just seen someone elsewhere claim that it was ~8.25 in 1751 and 8.14 in 1994.

pH can vary in some locations by more than one whole unit of pH on a monthly timescale. Any of these little variations are simply lost in the noise. This is particularly true when you get nearer to coastlines. Natural variation over relatively short time scales can be rather dramatic.

Ah, here we go. There was an article on that subject of short term variation of pH at a website called Watts Up With That back in January 🙂
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/01/09/scripps-paper-ocean-acidification-fears-overhyped/

RoHa

Phew! These are marine snails. For a moment there I thought there was a risk to the Great Woolly Snails that roam the Central Antarctic Highlands.

Bill Illis

Shells evolved in the early Cambrian when CO2 was 7,000 ppm.
There were giant Ammonites 2.5 metres across when CO2 was 3,000 ppm and they completely dominated the oceans at different times. (Think of a Nautilus with 2.5 metre shell around it – the Nautilus is the last surviving species of the family – the others went extinct during the dinosaur extinction event).
This is just another over-blown exaggeration.

D Böehm

Wait a minute! What about this??
Then there’s this:
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/12/27/the-ocean-is-not-getting-acidified
and…
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/06/19/the-electric-oceanic-acid-test
Next, the oceans’ pH varies widely, as this chart by Willis Eschenbach shows. Poor snails, how do they cope?
And here’s a free plug for Willis. You can find out a lot about almost any science subject here:
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/05/15/an-index-to-williss-writings

Michael John Graham

The after image looks like a hoax or else it shows damaged soft tissues. Aragonite is a very BRITTLE mineral that fails along cleavage planes. I can’t imagine it (no matter how thin) tearing and folding over like ripped clothing. Solution of aragonite should leave pits and shallow, smooth scours not folded edges. In addition, I wouldn;t like to try my luck dissolving aragonite in a solution with a pH greater than 7. (HCl and CH3COOH are good)

The after image looks like a hoax or else it shows damaged soft tissues. Aragonite is a very BRITTLE mineral that fails along cleavage planes. I can’t imagine it (no matter how thin) tearing and folding over like ripped clothing.

Whale barf?

Upwelling brings deep, old water to the surface. Yes, this deeper water is less basic than the surface water, but it is not manmade CO2 less basic. Along the west coast of Vancouver Island, South America and the California coast you get pHs down to 7.9 by global ocean water pH charts (sorry, don’t have the reference at hand, but a general google-search item). On the east coast of the USA, Chesapeake Bay has 7.9 also, and I don’t recall any dissolution of any shell live in or outland of CB.
Anyway, if it is upwelling water more than 40 years old, it ain’t possible to be related to increases in CO2.

I find their reasoning unfathomable.

Poor Yorek

Just to offer a few general chemistry clarifications rather than to comment specifically on the article’s claims:
1. To quote a previous post: “Wow, they are being acidified and dissolving at 8.0. I wonder how fast they would dissolve in that very acidic in comparison environment of pure H2O at 7.0 on the scale? Yup prbably melt right before our eyes, you know that water is dangerous stuff.”
For a sparingly soluble salt such as Fe(OH)2, the solubility at pH = 7.0 is 100x larger than at pH = 8.0. It would be more complicated and less severe for CaCO3, but a more acidic surroundings would facilitate dissolution of CaCO3 (unless protected by a surface layer). In a hand-wavy fashion: higher acidity -> lower hydroxide -> greater ability of CO3^2- to act as a weak base -> greater solubility of CaCO3 to produce carbonate anions. In any case, the previous writer should be advised that a single pH unit change can indeed have significant impacts on the solubility of certain materials. I make no warrant, however, regarding the specifics of the case with this article.
2. It is quite common in chemistry to refer to acidity and alkalinity in both absolute and relative senses. At 25-deg (C), pH > 7.0 are alkaline, [OH^1-] > [H3O^1+], whereas for pH < 7, the opposite holds true. Such solutions are considered alkaline or acidic respectively in the absolute sense. On the other hand, it is quite standard and correct to refer to pH = 7.8 as being acidic relative to pH = 8.0 (or pH = 5.8 as being alkaline relative to pH = 5.5). This is commonly used in reference to shifting a buffer's pH +/- relative to its "balance" point of pH = pKa of the weak conjugate acid from which the buffer is, in part made (the other part being the conjugate base (e.g. HCO3^1/CO3^2-).
3. The pH scale is temperature dependent. At physiological temperatures, neutral pH ~ 6.7, whereas at, say, 10-deg C, neutral pH ~ 7.3 or so. This shift is mediated primarily on the endothermic nature of the H2O + H2O = H3O^1+ + OH^1- reaction. Thus, pH = 7.0 can be itself "acidic," neutral, or "alkaline," depending on the temperature.
4. Someone above wrote that "This surely means corrosiveness can be described with a parabola." Whilst there is some degree of truth to this, I submit that the problem is with what we mean by corrosive: the term is descriptive rather than precise. Substances quite indifferent to alkaline conditions are readily attacked under acidic conditions and vice versa. For that matter, not even all acids are equally corrosive as, for example, nitric acid is a much more powerful oxidizing agent than hydrochloric or sulfuric (at similar concentrations) and, thus, much more "destructive" towards metal parts.
Hope this helps.