Claim: New Global Maps Detail Human-Caused Ocean Acidification

In northern winter, the Bering Sea, dividing Alaska and Siberia, becomes the most acidic region on earth (in purple) as shown in this February 2005 acidity map in pH scale. Temperate oceans are less acidic. The equatorial Pacific is left blank due to its high variability around El Niño and La Niña events. (Takahashi)A team of scientists has published the most comprehensive picture yet of how acidity levels vary across the world’s oceans, providing a benchmark for years to come as enormous amounts of human-caused carbon emissions continue to wind up at sea.

Feb 2005 ocean map

“We have established a global standard for future changes to be measured,” said Taro Takahashi, a geochemist at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory who published the maps with his colleagues in the August issue of the journal Marine Chemistry. The maps provide a monthly look at how ocean acidity rises and falls by season and geographic location, along with saturation levels of calcium carbonate minerals used by shell-building organisms. The maps use 2005 as a reference year and draw on four decades of measurements by Lamont-Doherty scientists and others.The oceans have taken up a quarter of the carbon dioxide humans have put in the atmosphere over the last two hundred years.

But their help in offsetting global warming has come at a price: the oceans are growing more acidic as they absorb our excess CO2. To what extent ocean acidification may harm marine life and ecosystems is still unclear, but already signs of stress have appeared in corals, mollusks and other shell-builders living in regions with naturally more acidic water. Since the industrial era began, average surface seawater pH in temperate oceans has fallen from 8.2 to 8.1 by 0.1 pH unit, equal to a 30 percent increase in acid concentration. (A lower pH indicates more acidic conditions.)The saturation state of the mineral aragonite, essential to shell-builders, tends to fall as waters become more acidic. The South Pacific Ocean  is heavily oversaturated with respect to aragonite (in red) while the polar oceans (in blue) are less saturated, as shown in this February 2005 map. The pink lines represent approximate polar sea ice edges. (Takahashi)

Taro Takahashi has spent more than four decades measuring the changing chemistry of the world’s oceans. Here, aboard the R/V Melville, he celebrates after sampling waters near the bottom of  the Japan Trench in 1973. (Lamont-Doherty archives)The vast tropical and temperate oceans, where most coral reefs grow, see the least variation, with pH hovering between 8.05 and 8.15 as temperatures fluctuate in winter and summer. Here, the waters are oversaturated with respect to the mineral aragonite—a substance that shell-building organisms need to thrive.Ocean pH fluctuates most in the colder waters off Siberia and Alaska, the Pacific Northwest and Antarctica. In spring and summer, massive plankton blooms absorb carbon dioxide in the water, raising pH and causing seawater acidity to fall. In winter, the upwelling of CO2-rich water from the deep ocean causes surface waters to become more acidic. Acidification of the Arctic Ocean in winter causes aragonite levels to fall, slowing the growth of pteropods, planktic snails that feed many predator fish. The maps reveal that the northern Indian Ocean is at least 10 percent more acidic than the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, which could be due to its unique geography. Cut off from the Arctic Ocean, the chemistry of the northern Indian Ocean is influenced by rivers draining the massive Eurasian continent as well as seasonal monsoon rains.By analyzing long-term data collected off Iceland, Bermuda, the Canary Islands, Hawaii and the Drake Passage, off the southern tip of South America,

Takahashi finds that waters as far north as Iceland and as far south as Antarctica are acidifying at the rate of 5 percent per decade. His estimate corresponds to the amount of CO2 humans are adding to the atmosphere, and is consistent with several recent estimates, including a 2014 study in the journal Oceanography led by Nicholas Bates, research director at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences.“This is exactly what we’d expect based on how much CO2 we’ve been putting in the air,” said Rik Wanninkhof, a Miami-based oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) who was not involved in the study. “This is an important point for scientists to underscore—these calculations are not magic.”If the current pace of ocean acidification continues, warm-water corals by 2050 could be living in waters 25 percent more acidic than they are today, said Takahashi.

While corals can currently tolerate shifts that big, marine biologists wonder if they can sustain growth at lower pH levels year-round. “In the long run it is the average pH that corals see that matters to their ability to grow and build a coral reef,” said Chris Langdon, a marine biologist at the University of Miami, who was not involved in the study.<Ocean acidification is already having an impact, especially in places where the seasonal upwelling of deep water has made seawater naturally more acidic. In a  recent study by researchers at NOAA, more than half of the pteropods sampled off the coast of Washington, Oregon and California showed badly dissolved shells. Ocean acidification has been linked to fish losing their ability to sniff out predators, and the die-off of baby oysters in hatcheries off Washington and Oregon, where more acidic deep water comes to the surface each spring and summer.By 2100, ocean acidification could cost the global economy $3 trillion a year in lost revenue from fishing, tourism and intangible ecosystem services, according to a recent United Nations report.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office, the watchdog arm of Congress, has reached similar findings and recommended that President Obama create a research and monitoring program dedicated to ocean acidification.Other authors of the study: Stuart Sutherland, David Chipman (now retired), John Goddard and Cheng Ho, all of Lamont-Doherty; and Timothy Newberger, Colm Sweeney and David Munro, all of University of Colorado, Boulder.

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271 thoughts on “Claim: New Global Maps Detail Human-Caused Ocean Acidification

  1. “The oceans are growing more acidic as they absorb our excess CO2”

    That implies the oceans are acidic. They are not. A more accurate statement would be

    The oceans are growing less alkaline as they absorb our excess CO2. I guess that just doesn’t have the same impact tho.

    • yes…before the oceans become acidic, they first have to approach neutrality…they in no way can become “more acidic” until they first become acidic, which is really unlikely given that they are buffered by these huge deposits of calcium chloride. just saying.

      • Answer to Streetcred re. Calcium carbonate.
        Back in 1976-78 when I worked with import to Sweden of many types of salt, including several mineralsalts, and also calcium carbonate (among many other chemical products) there were several tests using Calcium carbonate as well as tests using lime in micro-/medium- lake “resque” projects when Ph level had reach more acidic than wanted. In micro that’s a way to go. In medium – macro not. Too many other factors involved that’s make the possible solution costly and not as good as models suggested.

      • It isn’t ‘semantics’, if, by semantics, you mean the phrases have the same meaning. ‘More acidic’ does not carry the same meaning as ‘less alkaline’. ‘Less acidic’ is an inaccurate description of the effect.

      • Whoa, it isn’t arguing semantics! Acids and bases have different properties. Decreasing the ratio of OH-:H+ ions in an alkali solution is not acidifying, or becoming acidic, not does it give it any acidic properties. That solution is still a base with basic properties. If the warmists can’t understand this then what DO they understand?

    • But acid level 8.1..!
      That must be worse then acid level 7.
      Acid level 7 sounds like the acid level of the seas round Switzerland.

      • Maybe it’s my browser but I cannot see a single mention of the word ‘ALKALINE’ or variations of the word in the ENTIRE press release. I counted ‘ACID’ and it variations 24 times. I thought the oceans were alkaline. This tells you everything you need to know.

      • Bill Marsh, David Eisenstadt, Jimbo & MCourtney, you are spot on. Yep, there’s no mention of alkaline – and the coloured bar graph shows pH levels starts @ 7.74 (alkaline) up to 8.4 (alkaline). So saying ‘more acidic’ is opinionated nonsense. Just to remind ourselves . . . .

        Bleach pH 13.5 (alkaline)
        Ammonia pH 10.5 (alkaline)
        Sea Water pH 8 (alkaline)
        pH 7 (neutral)
        Urine pH 6.3 (acid)
        Lemon Juice pH 2.2 (acid)
        Hydrochloride Acid pH 0 (acid)

        Until the oceans cross the pH 7 threshold, the article should be saying ‘The oceans are less alkaline’.

    • So where does ALL THAT CO2 come from? We produce 3% of the total CO2 annual budget but the bulk is volcanogenic, ie., from volcanoes, sea mounts all of which were volcanoes, and the ocean ridge system where the tectonic plates are parting forming new oceanic crust. The ocean floor exhumes CO2 in parts as well. To blame us for ocean waters changing its pH is sophistry at best and lieing to force a false point.

    • You are looking a biological activity signal. Winter in the Northern hemisphere? No light, but many organisms consuming oxygen and releasing CO2. The Arctic Ocean is already low in alkalinity. Why? Humans? Not necessarily. Alkalinity can be produced from two sources, N fixation in the ocean, and from rivers flowing into the ocean. Stream alkalinity is similarly likely a biological effect, although dissolved minerals would be another source. Long dark winters are expected to reduce photosynthesis and N fixation, since the fixation process requires energy input.

      The second figure shows calcium carbonate concentrations in the ocean. The implication is higher atmospheric CO2 produced by man is leading to higher CO2 uptake in the ocean leading to reduced pH. Two points: 1) The highest concentrations of “aragonite” are red, and these are co-located with those economic powerhouses of the world – Australia and Cuba, not to disparage the land of Oz; and 2) aragonite, or CaCO3, is by definition alkalinity, or the basis of acid neutralizing capacity. Strangely enough, the highest levels are observed where biological activity is the highest.

      No doubt the red and purple colors are scary. Thanks to public education (an oxymoron), people are easily duped. If you know what you are looking at, the observations are obviously natural, and not scary at all. In fact, it’s pretty amazing we can see nature in action now. And are we really surprised they left out the equatorial region? We can predict with confidence when these data are shown, it would become inconveniently obvious temperature and biological activity and aragonite levels correlate.

      • This study shows astounding biological myopia. They conveniently ignore the large arthropod subphylum, the Crustacea to which Krill belong. Krill have chitinous exoskeletons, a non-calcium polysaccharide N-acetylglucosamine. Krill thrive in the lower pH waters of the polar regions and other upwelling regions of the oceans.
        “In northern winter, the Bering Sea, dividing Alaska and Siberia, becomes the most acidic region on earth…” ????
        “…signs of stress have appeared in corals, mollusks and other shell-builders living in regions with naturally more acidic water.”????
        Give me a break.
        ” In the Southern Ocean, one species, the Antarctic krill, Euphausia superba, makes up an estimated biomass of around 379,000,000 tonnes,[2] more than that of humans. Of this, over half is eaten by whales, seals, penguins, squid and fish each year, and is replaced by growth and reproduction.”-Wiki

        We are doomed of course. Resistance is futile.
        More CO2= more sugar!

    • So with all this new found”danger” from CO2 in water. Why then is it ok to peddle all those carbonated beverages to Humans?? Must be xtremely harmful.

  2. “recommended that President Obama create a research and monitoring program dedicated to ocean acidification.”
    I have never heard such utter over the top self serving crap.
    Well I actually have.
    I’m hearing it as their global warming grants are drying up.
    Really, when will it end?
    As one way to “milk” the cow becomes obsolete, they invent a whole new way to get a grip on the teat.
    It has to stop!

    • This is the problem. People aren’t taught how and why the US Congress holds the purse strings. Somehow Obama has convinced everyone it’s his money to spread around so that’s who they ask. “Obama gonna put gas in my car.”
      Obama is not a czar. It’s not his money.
      Trey Gowdy is right about the president wanting to make the US Congress an anomaly using his pen and phone.
      Something to be overcome, ignored or bypassed.
      That’s just wrong.
      Congress needs to do what we hired them to do and let the president be the party of no.
      Somehow the press needs to get behind the country.

      • Our media are the US versions of Pravda (Truth – Russian translation) and Izvestia (News), pure party organs. They might tear Obama apart only to help elect Hillary. The old Soviet Russian joke is there is no news in the Truth, and no truth in the News. Same here.

      • “Congress needs to do what we hired them to do and let the president be the party of no.”

        I agree with your sentiments — but for that to happen, we would have to have at least two different political parties. At present we only have one political party that simply gives two different speeches.

    • The problem is the research grant system that funds universities these days. If it wasn’t CAGW, it would be something else.

      • If I may. Before this, and continuing to this day, the vehicle has been fish. Over fishing. Right now, according to Pew, 90% of all sharks are gone. 100 million per year destroyed. 90% of tuna. Vanished. Its total BS. The donation campaign based on bad news, is thriving. That has been the something else. Best regards.

  3. “To what extent ocean acidification may harm marine life and ecosystems is still unclear”

    And…

    “By 2100, ocean acidification could cost the global economy $3 trillion a year in lost revenue from fishing, tourism and intangible ecosystem services, according to a recent United Nations report.”

    How do you arrive at a 3 trillion dollar number when you’ve also pointing out you have no idea what is going to happen. Stunning. I suppose the escape hatch is “could”. Anything “could” happen.

    • Not only are contradictory statements part and parcel of reports like this, but just plain nonsense is an added bonus.

      It is almost like Takahashi is saying,
      “Sure, it is unclear, but at this current level of uncertainty we can make certain predictions as to the state of the planetary eco-system about 90 years into the future. As the effects of ocean acidification become more unclear we will be able to have our predictions go out to 2150.”

      Takahashi is a Bozo in terms of developing coherent conclusions, but his goals are financially driven, where he is gonna do alright with this alarmist nonsense. As far as just the data collection, after his mumbo-jumbo alarmist drivel, who can trust this guys data?

    • Will Nitschke,
      …..How do you arrive at a 3 trillion dollar number when you’ve also pointing out you have no idea what is going to happen. Stunning. …..

      Maybe it’s because they made up the figure? Or maybe I’m badly mistake, so I apologize in advance. Anthony, is there a mistake?

      I followed the UN report link above but could only find this:

      6. Impacts of unmitigated ocean acidification are estimated to represent a loss to the world economy of more than US $1 trillion annually by 2100.
      [4.9MB PDF]

      I searched Google news but could only find 1 trillion a year by 2100.

      The WUWT post looks like it comes from Earth Institute Columbia Univ mentions “$3 trillion a year” by 2100.

      • After noting the lack of the use of the word ALKALINE / ALKALINITY in the press release, I looked at the abstract of the paper. Why didn’t the press release officers deem it fit to mention alkalinity ONCE? Here is the title:

        Abstract
        Taro Takahashi et al
        Climatological distributions of pH, pCO2, total CO2, alkalinity, and CaCO3 saturation in the global surface ocean, and temporal changes at selected locations
        ……data set for pCO2, alkalinity and nutrient concentrations in surface waters…..
        …… Linear potential alkalinity-salinity relationships are established……
        …..the alkalinity estimated from the potential alkalinity-salinity relationships…..
        …..environmental drivers (temperature, salinity, alkalinity and total CO2 concentration)…..
        Keywords Global ocean; Surface water; pH; Carbonate chemistry; Climatology; Seasonal and decadal change
        http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0304420314001042

      • Why didn’t the press release officers deem it fit to mention alkalinity ONCE?

        Jimbo

        It’s called money.

    • “By 2100, ocean acidification COULD cost the state of Ohio $3 trillion a year…”
      “By 2100, Jim from Maine COULD have a net worth of $3 trillion…”
      “By 2100, Anthony Watts COULD attain sainthood…”

      All have the same degree of truth.

    • Here is what marine life and ecosystems have to put up with.

      Abstract – 2011
      Will ocean acidification affect marine microbes?
      ……….Useful comparisons can be made with microbes in other aquatic environments that readily accommodate very large and rapid pH change. For example, in many freshwater lakes, pH changes that are orders of magnitude greater than those projected for the twenty second century oceans can occur over periods of hours. Marine and freshwater assemblages have always experienced variable pH conditions. Therefore, 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.
      http://www.nature.com/ismej/journal/v5/n1/full/ismej201079a.html
      ———————–

      Abstract – December 19, 2011
      Gretchen E. Hofmann et al
      High-Frequency Dynamics of Ocean pH: A Multi-Ecosystem Comparison
      ………. These observations reveal a continuum of month-long pH variability with standard deviations from 0.004 to 0.277 and ranges spanning 0.024 to 1.430 pH units. The nature of the observed variability was also highly site-dependent, with characteristic diel, semi-diurnal, and stochastic patterns of varying amplitudes. These biome-specific pH signatures disclose current levels of exposure to both high and low dissolved CO2, often demonstrating that resident organisms are already experiencing pH regimes that are not predicted until 2100……..

      …..and (2) in some cases, seawater in these sites reaches extremes in pH, sometimes daily, that are often considered to only occur in open ocean systems well into the future [46]. …..
      DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0028983
      http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0028983

  4. “becomes the most acidic region on earth (in purple) as shown in this February 2005 acidity map in pH scale. Temperate oceans are less acidic.”

    Since the pH is above 7.0 don’t they mean least alkaline rather than most acidic?

    • “In northern winter, the Bering Sea, dividing Alaska and Siberia, becomes the least alkaline region on earth (in purple) as shown in this February 2005 acidity map in pH scale”.

      Doesn’t sound alarming, now does it?

  5. “””””…..In northern winter, the Bering Sea, dividing Alaska and Siberia, becomes the most acidic region on earth (in purple) as shown in this February 2005 acidity map in pH scale. Temperate oceans are less acidic. …..”””””

    I see a typo there.

    Temperate oceans are more alkaline….

    Not even remotely acidic.

    • They just found a new coral reef off the California Coast, I think in Monterey Bay, but it’s 600 feet deep. Can’t be very tropical down there.

      Speaking of tropical, I saw a T&V news bulletin about the “Tropical” storm up in Alaska, that is about to deposit a foot or so of sand in the Midwest.

      Oops; excuse me, that is snow, and not sand, like in regular tropical storms.

      • Bleaching of the corals was due to temp rise due to El Nino 97-98. The corals recovered. In some cases more heat tolerant polyp creatures arose, in others the temps moderated. Bleaching obviously is an evolved reaction adaption measure for corals. The coral creatures can and did adapt. As it always has for countless hundreds of millions of years.

    • Look at the causes of coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef. If I got 1 Dollar for every time I heard ‘high sea surface temperatures’ and ‘oceans becoming more acidic’ I’d be richer than Bill Gates. OK, maybe not Bill but Al Gore.

      Abstract – 2 October 2012
      The 27–year decline of coral cover on the Great Barrier Reef and its causes
      Tropical cyclones, coral predation by crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS), and coral bleaching accounted for 48%, 42%, and 10% of the respective estimated losses, amounting to 3.38% y-1 mortality rate. Importantly, the relatively pristine northern region showed no overall decline. …
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3497744/

      Same paper in the news.

      “The Great Barrier Reef has lost half its coral cover in the last 27 years. The loss was due to storm damage (48%), crown of thorns starfish (42%), and bleaching (10%) according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences today by researchers from the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) in Townsville and the University of Wollongong.”
      http://www.aims.gov.au/latest-news/-/asset_publisher/MlU7/content/2-october-2012-the-great-barrier-reef-has-lost-half-of-its-coral-in-the-last-27-years

      “”There are three main sources for the coral decline, one is storms, however 42% is attributed to Crown of Thorns Starfish – and just 10% due to bleaching.”
      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-26183209

      • Yes…but STORMS!…greatest damage was done by STORMS…and as Al, Barak, and any other “green” with a mouth piece tells us, STORMS are caused by global warming…errr…cooling….errr…ummm…WAIT….

  6. … and yet another set of impossibly precise and accurate metrics for the “global” alarmists to hype and blame on mankind’s evil industries… as if the variation in PH of +/-0.04 is even realistically measurable or abnormal.

    • Yes meaningfully measurable – measuring to hundredths when the margin of error is whole numbers seems rather a futile enterprise.

      It’s like using a yard stick to measure the distance to the moon and claiming accuracy to 1/16 of an inch.

      • They should be able to measure to nearest 0.1 or 0.2. It is the number of measurements over the whole ocean and at different depths and for many years that is most important. This article makes it sound as if they have lots of measurements for 40 years. Would like to find out more about what they actually know and how well. I will have to read the paper, I guess.

      • @Bill W – Its been a while since I checked but there were no precise pH probes that could be used for sea water. It used to require measuring an equilibrium between SO2 and H2S03 in solution. I’m sure none were fitted to the Argo buoys so how many samples could they have taken?

    • One of the most fundamental rules of “process control” is that you must sense and measure the variable which you wish to control, and then use feedback to force that set point. If you “infer” the value of the variable you wish to control, from some proxy variable, and then use feedback to force that variable to some set point, you do not end up with a controlled process.

      They correct term for such a system is “BOMB.”

  7. Gasp! The deadly threat of very, very slight “Ocean neutralisation”.

    Well, I suppose the Big Wind subsidy farmers need to put their propaganda dollars somewhere….because with the advent of waterless fracking the whole anti shale gas propaganda push looks like a bust.

    Pity about those ocean fossil records from times when CO2 was higher than today. Maybe they could try “excess bird and bat population problems” as their next excuse to save their ponzi schemes?

    • The surface of the oceans (the “mixed layer”, the upper few hundred meters) are in direct contact with the atmosphere and exchange CO2 at a fast rate (1-3 years). Quantities in the mixed layer (around 1000 GtC) and atmosphere (800 GtC) are quite similar.
      Because of chemistry, any change in the atmosphere gives a change in the ocean surface of about 10% of the change in the atmosphere.
      The exchanges with the deep oceans are much slower.

      • Hi Ferdinand,
        “Mike, the upwelling is seasonal and goes away in summer. The trend over the past decades is what is of interest and that goes down everywhere where is measured.”
        Just trying to understand, what you are implying here..
        So sometimes during the year there is a natural reason for this locally high acidification of the surface water ..I hate it when people (even climate experts!) use the term “ocean acidification”, its so wrong and unscientific, the oceans couldnt care less about the tiny anthropogenic CO2 amount.., but you are sure that the long term pH is only/mainly caused by anthropogenic emissions!? Sounds strange to me given that there is strong evidence for long scale ocean cycles in that region!
        All in all there seems to be huge variations of the acidification over the globe (being inconsistent with a homogenous global reason for it)

        “The surface of the oceans (the “mixed layer”, the upper few hundred meters) are in direct contact with the atmosphere and exchange CO2 at a fast rate (1-3 years).”
        This number seems to change, I remember 5-10 years, with year being a likely candidate..

        “Because of chemistry, any change in the atmosphere gives a change in the ocean surface of about 10% of the change in the atmosphere.”
        Reverse engineering this statement with the 5% change expected per decade, does that mean, they really predict a change of 50% in the atmosphere per decade?

        Cheers,
        LoN

      • “the oceans (…) exchange CO2 at a fast rate (1-3 years).”

        No. I exchange CO2 at a fast rate – 6-12 seconds.

      • LoN,

        There are only some seven permanent stations which have longer time series at different places in the oceans. The rest of the Takahashi data are based on ships measurements, which were sporadic in the past, but increasing over time.

        The seasonal influence and the trends for the seven stations can be seen in:
        http://www.tos.org/oceanography/archive/27-1_bates.pdf

        That humans are responsible for the longer term pH drop is clear to me, as I am quite sure that humans are largely responsible for the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere…

        That the pH drop is not uniform is because pH is not uniform too: pH depends of a lot of factors, including temperature, biolife, upwelling,… Ultimately, any increase of CO2 in the atmosphere gives an increase of DIC (dissolved inorganic carbon: CO2 + bi + carbonates), all other items in average equal, no matter if that is by less pCO2 difference at the upwelling places or more pCO2 difference at the sink places.

        The 5-10 years is the turnover time, which is mainly caused by seasonal exchanges: about 20% of all CO2 in the atmosphere is exchanged each year with vegetation (~60 GtC in and out) and the ocean surface (~50 GtC out and in). That makes that for both the ocean surface (and vegetation) and the atmosphere, any change in one of them is rapidly spread over the other one(s).

        The 5% mentioned by Takahashi is the change in [H+], alkalinity, while the 10% change vs. atmospheric changes is in [DIC]. The latter can be seen in the change of DIC at Bermuda and other stations, where the increase in DIC is about 10% of the increase in pCO2 (~ppmv) of the atmosphere over the same period. See fig. 3 in the above Bates e.a. publication.

      • Ferdinand:
        Below you claim 7 million ship’s measurements but the study is based on modeling because ocean pH cannot be measured directly, and explains why deriving ocean pH figures is problematic. Plus the pH varies vary considerably because of upwelling factors.This throws doubt on your refrain about decreasing ocean surface pH, seen in your many comments.

      • The oceans are not a closed system like they pretend it is with the ocean acidification meme. This is where their cute little hypothesis completely falls apart in my opinion. This is why calcareous marine life not only lived through 2,000+ ppm CO2; they thrived, evolved, and diversified in these conditions.

      • so now I`m confused as to why the deep waters are more `acidic` than the surface waters as mentioned elsewhere if its the surface water that reacts rapidly to air CO2 change

      • Jono, a lot of biological life happens in the upper ocean layer where there is sunlight. The small plants (phyto plankton) consume CO2 and provide oxygen. The reduction in CO2 makes that the pH at the surface is higher than further down the oceans (also visible in the elevated 13C/12C ratio).

        Dead plankton and/or rests of eaten plankton fall down and are oxidized at middle debts, reducing the oxygen content and increasing CO2 levels, thus reducing the pH.

        That are parts of the natural carbon cycle, the trend at the surface is of a different origin and hardly influences the natural cycle, as CO2/bi/carbonates are abundant present in the surface of the oceans.

    • Also as mentioned here, cold, less alkaline fresh water rivers emptying into the ocean . There is a mechanism in place to account for the lack of alkalinity and lower pH of fresh water. If there wasn’t, over millennia oceans would become diluted and pH would decrease naturally anyways.

    • That it drifts towards the poles seemed reasonable to me, assuming gases aren’t well-mixed. The winds blow the SOx away from the equator (and along it with the trade winds).
      Bit of a blow for those who think ∆[CO2] is the critical factor or alternatively that CO2 is well-mixed..

      The weird thing for me is east of Brazil at about 30° South. That must be geological. A large undersea vent or volcano, perhaps?

  8. Four decades of playing a Kabuki impersonation of Jacques Cousteau..What fun these science gravy-trainers have.

    .”Hey Calypso I’ll spin you a story …” with apologies to the late messrs JC and JD

  9. Oh, and if the oceans are absorbing 25% of our “contribution” to CO2 (which is 3% and the rest of the changes are due to natural causes) then using their numbers we are responsible for 0.00075 lower PH to the drop in alkalinity.

  10. In northern winter, the Bering Sea, dividing Alaska and Siberia, becomes the most acidic region on earth …

    Horsefeathers

    To be accurate and scientific, it should be described as the least alkaline region of the ocean.

    But they drape a drive for political action in pseudo-science jargon all to instill fear.

    The real question is … has science gone stupid?

  11. There are very likely huge errors due to upwelling and the modeling required to estimate pH. The Bering Sea is an area of high upwelling.

    Here’s what Takahashi reported in “Climatological distributions of pH, pCO2, total CO2, alkalinity, and CaCO3 saturation in the global surface ocean, and temporal changes at selected locations” (2014)

    “The most desirable way for computing pH and carbonate chemistry parameters is to use pCO2 and TCO…. While seasonal variability data for pCO2 are available for many locations in the global oceans, the TCO2 observations are too few to define seasonal changes other than those obtained at a few time-series stations. Consequently, the TCO2 data are not sufficient for establishing the global distribution of pH and other carbonate chemistry parameters, …”

    “The carbonate chemistry in seawater may be also defined using a combination of pCO2 and the total alkalinity (TA). However, this scheme requires additional measurements for the concentrations of boric, phosphoric and silicic acids as well as the knowledge of the dissociation
    constants for each acid species, in order to compute the carbonate alkalinity by correcting the contribution of these acids to the TA. Thus, the errors may be larger for high nutrient waters in high latitude and upwelling areas. “

    • re upwelling : The moment I saw the chart, I was sure that the more acidic areas away from the tropics were the areas identified many years ago as areas of upwelling. And yes, the Absttract says “ In the subpolar and polar waters of the North and South Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans, pCO2 and the concentrations Of CO2 and nutrients were much higher during winter than summer. During winter, the high latitude areas of the North Atlantic, North Pacific, and Weddell Sea were sources for atmospheric CO2; during summer, they became CO2 sinks. This is attributed to the upwelling of deep waters rich in CO2 and nutrients during winter, and the intense photosynthesis occurring in strongly stratified upper layers during summer.“.

      So the “acidification” (well that “acidification” anyway) is NOT from man-made CO2 but from water upwelling from the deep ocean. ie, water that got its CO2 etc etc many hundreds of years ago.

      The upwelling areas are given I think in earlier Takahashi studies (from memory 1995 and 2000) but it would take me time that I don’t have right now to find them. If anyone asks, I’ll look when I can.

      • I have just noticed that “The Abstract” which I referenced was of a 2010 Takahashi paper, so somehow I actually did use an earlier Takahashi study. Someone must have given the link – thanks, whoever it was!

      • Mike, the upwelling is seasonal and goes away in summer. The trend over the past decades is what is of interest and that goes down everywhere where is measured. Here for Bermuda (fig. 5):
        http://www.biogeosciences.net/9/2509/2012/bg-9-2509-2012.pdf
        and here for Hawaii (fig. 1):
        http://www.pnas.org/content/106/30/12235.full.pdf
        Besides that, some 7 million ships measurements (regular and occasional), buoys and platforms add to the trends over time for a lot of ocean waters.

      • Why are you limiting interest to past decades, did oceans just come into being a few decades ago? How can we claim humanity being the driver of PH when we do not know how the planet worked throughout it’s history? What does a lot of the ocean mean? What does regular and occasional measurements mean? How can you trend random measurements taken from limited ocean locations, especially when you claim upswelling is seasonal and the reports you cite are regionally specific. I imagine a lot of behaviours related to the oceans varies seasonally and regionally as well as over decades and centuries regardless of how much CO2 humans are burning running computer models.

      • @ Ferdinand Upwelling undergoes a seasonal cycle but you would be mistaken to say it goes away in the summer. Mooring off the Oregon coast have observed several events of rapid increase in ocean pCO2 ranging from 500 to 1100 from June to September.

      • Ferdinand – The article begins “In northern winter, the Bering Sea, dividing Alaska and Siberia, becomes the most acidic region on earth (in purple) as shown in this February 2005 acidity map in pH scale. “. The cause of that is clearly upwelling, not man-made CO2. Yes, the major issue is the global trend, but who is to say that the upwelling is not a factor in the global trend – ie, the stuff that upwells may drift off somewhere else by summer so that it doesn’t show up at that place any more but it might still affect the global picture. Or maybe each year the winter upwelling isn’t completely counteracted in summer, so over the full year the pH cranks down a little notch. Fact is, we just don’t know, but the fact that such a dramatic area of “acidification” is naturally caused doesn’t seem to do a lot for the “man-made” idea.

      • Alx, there were some alternative pH “proxy” measurements in foramin shells, which show similar pH changes over longer periods, but human emissions mainly increased since the 1950’s and are increasingly increasing in the past decades, thus while the past is interesting, the current increase in emissions has far more influence than the longer past.

        Jim, local upwelling can have a strong influence, but global upwelling and downwelling should be in equilibrium, as one can’t have much sea level difference… What that gives is an estimated 40 GtC continuous exchange of CO2 between the upwelling in the tropical Pacific (before the Peruvian and Chilean coasts) and the polar sinks, mainly in the NE Atlantic and back via the deep oceans (the THC – Thermohaline circulation).

        Mike,
        Unfortunately, there are no longer term continuous measurements in the North Pacific, but there are in the North Atlantic: Iceland and the Irminger Sea (between Iceland and Greenland). These show huge seasonal pH variations due to winter upwelling and summer consumption of the extra CO2 thanks to extra nutrients and therefore extra biolife. See Fig. 2 in Bates e.a.:
        http://www.tos.org/oceanography/archive/27-1_bates.pdf
        In Fig. 3 one can see that the increase in DIC (total carbon) over time is practically the same for all sites and everywhere, except the tropical one, the increase in pCO2 on site follows the increase in the atmosphere at a lower level: CO2 in average is moving from the atmosphere into the oceans, not reverse.

      • Ferdinand – Nothing you say is disputed (by me), but it’s not exactly relevant to what I was saying. The purple patches are upwellings, and therefore not human-caused. Interesting thoughts flow from that fact.

    • Jim Steele has put his finger on big problem this study has.

      “We have established a global standard for future changes to be measured” said Taro Takahashi.

      Is this the measure of Lamont-Doherty?

  12. Blimey – Atmospheric CO2 up from three parts per ten thousand to four parts per ten thousand.
    True believers seemingly highlighting a drop approaching pH 7.7 -well alkaline – in some areas of the Kurilles.

    My kitten could do better.

    Auto

  13. I am having trouble with the ocean absorbing more CO2, just because there is more of it in the atmosphere. I think I recall from Henry’s Law in high school that the amount of gas liquids can absorb depends on temperature and pressure, the amount of gas absorbed varying inversely with temperature and directly with pressure. It shouldn’t matter how much atmospheric CO2 there is, should it?

    If global warming resumes and ocean temperatures rise, won’t the oceans release more CO2 and become more alkaline, not acidic? This seems more consistent with the Henry’s Law.

    Henry’s Law provides generally that the amount of gas held in solution depends on the equilibrium of the gas’s pressure with atmospheric pressure. The dissolved gas’s equilibrium pressure is a number (the Henry constant) that varies inversely with temperature (which controls molecular thermodynamics) and directly with atmospheric pressure. When temperature changes while atmospheric pressure does not, the Henry constant, or coefficient, shows (above) how warmer liquid, with more molecular activity, holds proportionally less gas than cooler liquid. So the oceans, under relatively constant atmospheric pressure, will release more CO2 as higher temperatures stimulate molecular activity that raises the dissolved CO2’s pressure above atmospheric, or equilibrium, pressure. Likewise, carbon dioxide in a warm carbonated drink sprays liquid when opened because the warm liquid’s equilibrium point is lower than the equilibrium point of the cooler liquid which could then hold more gas.

    Maybe I am missing something here. It’s been 60 years since high school.

    But if Henry’s Law holds for ocean acidification, warmer oceans should hold less CO2 in solution, resulting in less carbonic acid. The Hockey Schtick recently posted a paper that seemed to confirm that. Ajioka, T., Yamamoto, M., Takemura, K., and Kitagawa, H., published “Water pH and temperature in Lake Biwa from MBT’/CBT indices during the last 280 000 years,” in the journal Climate of the Past, on October 17, 2014. The Hockey Schtick summary reported that the pH of water from a lake in central Japan over the past 280,000 years increased (became more alkaline) with warmer temperatures and decreased (more acidic) with cooling temperatures. It directly contradicts the assumptions of global warming theory’s “ocean acidification” scare.

    The paper is at:

    http://www.clim-past.net/10/1843/2014/cp-10-1843-2014.pdf

    http://www.clim-past.net/10/1843/2014/cp-10-1843-2014-relations.html

    • Tom Anderson – “the ocean absorbing more CO2” could well be correct. Although a warming ocean will emit CO2 if the atmosphere is otherwise unchanged, it can still absorb more CO2 if at the same time the atmosphere has been acquiring CO2 from elsewhere. It’s the pCO2s that determine the direction of flow of CO2 between ocean and atmosphere.

    • Tom,

      Henry’s law is for each type of gas in the atmosphere on its own, not for the atmosphere as a whole.

      If the partial pressure of CO2 in the atmosphere increases from 300 μatm (~ppmv) to 400 μatm, then the oceans will absorb 33% more CO2 as free CO2, no matter if that CO2 is in 1 atm of air or in near full vacuum…
      But as free CO2 is only 1% of total carbon in seawater, that would be an increase of only 0.33% of total carbon. In reality, due to the equilibrium reactions with bicarbonates and carbonates, the real increase is 3.3%, or about a factor 10 higher. That is called the Revelle/buffer factor.

      The reference to a lake in Japan was extensively discussed here at WUWT too: that is a fresh water lake and fresh water has no/much less buffer capacity than seawater. The behavior of CO2 in a fresh water lake is not comparable to the oceans… See:
      https://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/10/21/new-paper-debunks-acidification-scare-finds-warming-increases-ph/

    • Freshwater lakes and oceans have very different chemistries. Changes of pH in a lake have essentially no relevance for conditions in an ocean.

  14. Human caused – clearly visible. Caused by a burgeoning population explosion in the Aleutian Islands.

  15. Hhhmmmm. . . the ‘Vast Bering Sea’ ( . .as narrator Mike Rowe would say – from the tv show ‘Deadliest Catch’ . .) is the most acidic . . ? I wonder if that is affecting the King Crab and Opelio Crab populations. Maybe these scientist publishing the maps ought to check with the crab fisherman up there, and see how the crab appear to be doing.

    AND, do we think this DIDN’T happen during the Medieval Warm Period ? Why should it be an issue now? Let’s just see what the temperatures do in the next decade or two, then IF it’s an issue begin to address it . . .

  16. One wonders: Where did all that CO2, from the eras where it was 2000 ppm and above, go to?
    By these scientists standards the oceans should have absorbed so much you could practically fill your ca’rs batteries with sea water.

  17. Reading this is a puzzling experience. Aragonite and Calcite are the two physical forms of calcium carbonate, just as soot, graphite and diamond are the three physical forms of carbon.
    Aragonite does not exist in solution, only calcium ions and carbonate ions.
    Saying “The saturation state of the mineral aragonite”is like calling the carbon content of air the diamond content.
    Weirdly imprecise writing, it reminds me of greenies talking about “megawatts per hour”

    • My thoughts, too. The terminology of the post is screwy in that regard. There is no such thing as “aragonite” in solution. Aragonite exists only in crystal form.

      • Not quite so. Look at : Falini, G. et al, Control of Aragonite or Calcite Polymorphism by Mollusk Shell Macromolecules, Science 5 January 1996: Vol. 271. no. 5245, pp. 67 – 69

        Many mineralizing organisms selectively form either calcite or aragonite, two polymorphs of calcium carbonate with very similar crystalline structures. Understanding how these organisms achieve this control has represented a major challenge in the field of biomineralization. Macromolecules extracted from the aragonitic shell layers of some mollusks induced aragonite formation in vitro when preadsorbed on a substrate of -chitin and silk fibroin. Macromolecules from calcitic shell layers induced mainly calcite formation under the same conditions. The results suggest that these macromolecules are responsible for the precipitation of either aragonite or calcite in vivo.

  18. Reblogged this on SasjaL and commented:
    Do they avoid the salinity level deliberately? When the salinity level drops, then the water becomes more acidic or more accurately less alkaline … The water in the northern regionhave normally low salinity, so …

  19. Warm water is not capable of dissolving as much CO2 as cold water. The fact the very slight decrease in alkalinity is concentrated in the equatorial region suggests the source of acidification is not CO2 – more likely volcanic sulphuric acid.

    • I think the article cites the arctic as the least alkaline. It mentions the Indian ocean but adds that this is probably due to its geography, ie river inputs.

  20. Anyway, It is a great chance to have a certain measurement of the state of the ocean for further references. After 30 years we will see, if that can be connected to global warming, and how much the acidity / alcalinity has chanched.

    As far as i know, all the calcium carbonate will fall down (as shells and exosketons) the bottom of the ocean, becoming lime stone. As it happened all the time before.

    • “As far as i know, all the calcium carbonate will fall down (as shells and exosketons) the bottom of the ocean, becoming lime stone. As it happened all the time before.”

      Actually the traffic is going the other way in a large part of the ocean, and always has. Just google “Carbonate Compensation Depth”.

  21. Does the paper below say something different, or is it a “climate vs. weather” type of thing?

    Here, we present a compilation of continuous, high-resolution time series of upper ocean pH, collected using autonomous sensors, over a variety of ecosystems ranging from polar to tropical, open-ocean to coastal, kelp forest to coral reef. These observations reveal a continuum of month-long pH variability with standard deviations from 0.004 to 0.277 and ranges spanning 0.024 to 1.430 pH units. The nature of the observed variability was also highly site-dependent, with characteristic diel, semi-diurnal, and stochastic patterns of varying amplitudes. These biome-specific pH signatures disclose current levels of exposure to both high and low dissolved CO2, often demonstrating that resident organisms are already experiencing pH regimes that are not predicted until 2100.

    http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0028983

  22. Since the industrial era began, average surface seawater pH in temperate oceans has fallen from 8.2 to 8.1 by 0.1 pH unit, equal to a 30 percent increase in acid concentration.

    This statement pretty much marks this paper as garbage.

    Assume that the industrial era began in earnest in the early 18th century. So what they are saying is that someone back then took measurements of the pH of the world’s temperate oceans and came up with a pH of 8.2. This is quite amazing considering that the pH scale was not introduced until 1909 by the Danish chemist Søren Peder Lauritz Sørensen.

    Given that until the development of the glass electrode the acidity of a solution was usually done by determining the colour of a piece of paper. The best you would come up with is a pH of 8, or more likely ‘more alkaline that fresh water.’

    The other problem, as has already been pointed out is the term ‘more acidic.’ The paper and the meme would have far less punch if you used the correct term ‘less alkaline.’ People have a reasonable concept of acidic and would be more likely to associate this with something dangerous.

    • The pH was of course not measured in the past to such an accuracy, but it is over the past decades at a few stations (and lots of regular and occasional sea ship measurements), which shows the decline over time directly related to the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere. Taking into account the CO2 levels in the past and ocean chemistry, the past pH can be quantified.

      In this case the “model” is a quite accurate reflection of the real world…

      But I agree, while “more acidic” is strictly right (more H+), it is used to scare people…

      • The term “pH” and the concept is about 100 years old (S.P. L. Sorenson, Carlsberg, 1909.) Actually, 90 years from the refinement. I’d view any pH measurements from the 19th century with some suspicion.

  23. A team of scientists has published the most comprehensive picture yet of how acidity levels vary across the world’s oceans, providing a benchmark for years to come as enormous amounts of human-caused carbon emissions continue to wind up at sea.

    If there’s been no “benchmark” of pH levels…er…excuse me…”acidity” levels vary, then what happens to all the past claims of Man-made CO2 dissolving clam shells?

    Also, doesn’t this “benchmark” presuppose the cause? Shouldn’t a “benchmark” be the start rather than the conclusion?

    Also, has climate science advanced to the point where it can extract human DNA from a CO2 molecule?

    • “doesn’t this “benchmark” presuppose the cause? Shouldn’t a “benchmark” be the start rather than the conclusion?”

      That is an endemic problem with climate papers, they assume AGW as equally proven as the theory of relativity and then drive their conclusions based on that initial assumption. I have no idea how something so preposterous is repeated so consistently and become the SOP for climate papers.

      The [separation] of man made CO2 and natural CO2 is a construct, an idea, it has no basis. As you DNA question points out, we have no idea. Pick a point in time when there was less CO2 in the atmosphere, simply state any additional CO2 in the atmosphere is man-made and there you go, the science is settled.

    • Those dissolving clam shells aren’t in the ocean – they were in tanks pumped with variable levels of co2 at unrealistic rates and levels. Some crustaceans built more shell!

      Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution – December 4, 2009
      Ocean Acidification: A Risky Shell Game
      How will climate change affect the shells and skeletons of sea life?
      A new study has yielded surprising findings about how the shells of marine organisms might stand up to an increasingly acidic ocean in the future. Under very high experimental CO2 conditions, the shells of clams, oysters, and some snails and urchins partially dissolved. But other species seemed as if they would not be harmed, and crustaceans, such as lobsters, crabs, and prawns, appeared to increase their shell-building.
      http://www.whoi.edu/oceanus/feature/ocean-acidification–a-risky-shell-game

      Here is another experiment.

      Abstract – Bethan M. Jones et. al – 12 April 2013
      Responses of the Emiliania huxleyi Proteome to Ocean Acidification
      ….We employed an approach combining tandem mass-spectrometry with isobaric tagging (iTRAQ) and multiple database searching to identify proteins that were differentially expressed in cells of the marine coccolithophore species Emiliania huxleyi (strain NZEH) between two CO2 conditions: 395 (~current day) and ~1340 p.p.m.v. CO2……..Under high CO2 conditions, coccospheres were larger and cells possessed bigger coccoliths that did not show any signs of malformation compared to those from cells grown under present-day CO2 levels. No differences in calcification rate, particulate organic carbon production or cellular organic carbon: nitrogen ratios were observed….
      http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0061868

  24. “Since the industrial era began, average surface seawater pH in temperate oceans has fallen from 8.2 to 8.1 by 0.1 pH unit,”
    Ahh so, wayyyy back then (whenever) we could measure to 0.1 ph accuracy, and to 0.01 ph today. Me thinks that I should ask for the error bars & methodology as I’m sure that these are just more computer models/assumptions involved (aka climastrology). Also no doubt the “data” will be “adjusted” to make it look worse year by year. Appears to be just another IPCC/government grant gravy train.

    • Continuing your point about “since the industrial era began”, if this would infer that the Industrial Era began about 150 years ago, and the tone of the paper being that Man’s relentless CO2 emissions would carry on the decrease in alkalinity at the same rate. (0.1 decrease in pH units per 150 years). Would it not take 1650 years just to get to a neutral pH? Is there that amount of fossil fuel to burn for that period of time to create such a scenario?

      • Hum, even assuming this study is accurate, how much of the decline in alkalinity is due to man, if the atmosphere has been warming naturally for a very long time? Indeed, how do we know the upwelling is not bringing more CO2 then the mean? At any rate, as several posters linked articles to peer reviewed reports indicating CO2 is a net benefit, not only in the atmosphere, but in the oceans as well.

    • Maybe today’s technology is better? But, when I was a lab flunky in the ’80s, we hoped for reproducible results with accuracies of 0.1 to 0.2 of a pH unit at best. And that was with careful calibration several times a day and with special care for the fragile instrumentation in a controlled laboratory environment. I wonder about the uniformity of the test equipment, methodologies, training and calibration protocols used in this study? Not to mention the challenges presented at the various field test locations scattered across the vast expanse of the world’s oceans over a period of four decades? With all that in mind, It seems that it is a joke for them to claim to be able to make meaningful comparisons of pH measurements to within 0.01 or 0.02 of a unit!

  25. How many shellfish are floating along the sea surface? This is just setting the stage for future alarmists to claim that the missing acidity has gone to the deep ocean, because we have no record to contradict them.

  26. “The equatorial Pacific was left blank because if the high variability around El Nino and LA Nina events.”
    ######
    Here is the clue to understanding this fraud.
    It is the confession that sea surface pH varies according to factors_other_ than CO2.

    • Cherry picking comes to mind.

      I always wanted to show my parents only my good grades from school, unfortunately I was not afforded the same opportunites at cherry picking as climate scientists have.

    • “It occurs to me that CO2 is perhaps the most important depleted nutrient”

      Give that man a prize!

      If you could pick one gas to increase in the atmosphere in order to bestow the most benefits to life on this planet, which one would you choose?

      How can the choice be anything other than CO2?

      It feeds plants. Photosynthesis is no theory.
      All animals eat plants or something that ate plants……so they benefit. In addition to more food/sugars produced via photosynthesis, the other product is oxygen.

      Should water vapor(H2O gas) be increased also?
      With the earth warming around 1 degree C since the Industrial Revolution, that has in fact happened. If you believe some people, that’s a bad thing.

      To determine if it really is bad to increase water vapor, let’s think about what would happen if we decreased water vapor. That definitely would be bad.

      However, unlike CO2, which is well mixed in the atmosphere, there is a huge range in the amount of atmospheric H2O. The places that don’t have much, don’t support much life. The places with an abundance of, have an abundance of life……….so yes, increasing H2O is overall a good thing.

      But that will cause too much rain in places that already get more than enough rain!

      OK then, it’s settled. The one gas to increase, that would bestow the most widespread benefits to life on this planet, with is CO2.

      Note: This discussion does not give weight to speculative projections related to CO2 that have yet to materialize during a time frame that has already passed. In the world of meteorology, we call that a busted forecast. We learn and make a NEW forecast using updated guidance based on the LATEST observations.

      Oh, that’s right, I forgot. Climate scientists can bust a forecast for 20 years and still get to call it accurate because a theory never has to verify and reconcile with the real world. You can always find new theories about missing heat or temporary pauses that explain why the old theory really is working.

      But we are being told that things must stay exactly like they were 150 years ago before the start of the Industrial Revolution! Why?

      Of the millions of years that life has existed on this planet, why does circa. 1850 represent the instant in time when all gases and temperatures of our atmosphere and oceans were at the perfect level? And we should compare all future levels to those perfect ones?

      I just took a poll of all the creatures on this planet based on empirical data using measures like vegetative health and food production. Most of them say that’s bullshit and we should increase the one gas in the atmosphere that benefits life the most………CO2.

  27. “In northern winter, the Bering Sea, dividing Alaska and Siberia, becomes the most acidic region on earth.”

    Translated: The most acidic region on earth, isn’t.

  28. With due regard to the myriad issues that affect ocean pH, imho the figure would be better illustrated by indicating pH deviation from neutrality with respect to the mean temperature at each geographic point. For example, at 5 degrees Celcius, neutral pH is 7.4; at 10 degrees Celcius, neutral pH is about 7.3; whereas at 30 degrees Celcius, the value is 6.9 or so (values rounded to one decimal digit).

    Put another way, were the oceans simply pure fresh water with no dissolved gases or ions, the pH profile would mimic the temperature profile.

  29. Let’s put it in every day terms. Say we have an atmosphere that is 100 percent CO2, not like Venus — like a capped bottle of beer or champagne, where the booze has all the CO2 the bottler can squeeze in.

    Warming the liquid (beer, etc.) in my experience will lower much dissolved CO2 your drink of choice can hold. That’s why the excess gas and beer sprays out. And it doesn’t matter where that gas came from — CO2, sulfuric acid, active yeast or commercial “dry” ice. The amount of CO2 the liquid can hold depends on temperature and pressure, and nothing else. Take the cap off that warm beer, to that point stable at high pressure under its blanket of gas in the neck, and the CO2 the beer/champagne/sparkling drink can no longer hold its gas like it could when it was cold, and it spritzes you in da puss.

    How you gonna push that excess CO2 back into the water? Cold . . pressure. Cold oceans, more gas dissolved; warmer oceans less gas dissolved.

    Warmists want it both ways, warm oceans (or beer) and more dissolved CO2, directly contradictory conditions.

    To ocean acidification let’s give a resounding BURP!

    • Tom, there is a little difference between a bottle of beer and the oceans and atmosphere: CO2 in beer bottle easily can reach 3 atm pressure, while the atmosphere is at 0,0004 atm CO2 pressure. The ocean surface follows the atmosphere with an equilibrium pressure which is average 0.000007 atm lower than the CO2 pressure in the atmosphere.

      What the difference in pressure between a beer bottle and the atmosphere/oceans compensates is the difference in surface area…

      The influence of temperature on the equilibrium CO2 pressure is about 8 μatm/°C, that is all. The increase in the atmosphere meanwhile is 110 ppmv above the temperature controlled equilibrium. Humans have emitted over 200 ppmv in the past 160 years…

  30. 5% of what? pH is not a linear scale. What does a 5% per decade change in ‘acidity’ mean in terms of pH. Also the oceans are currently alkaline, so presumably the ‘acidity’ is negative. This makes measuring change in terms of a percentage per decade even more strange.

    The fluctuation in pH in the ocean mirrors the seasonal changes in CO2 found in the atmosphere. In summer vegetation sucks CO2 from the air, while sea life similarly removes CO2 (carbonate) from the ocean raising the pH.

  31. The maps show that no part of the oceans is in any way acidic. (Its very amateurish propaganda)

    And no mention that ocean plant life is almost certainly using most of the extra CO2 they say is going into the oceans.

    The fact is that all rain and all rivers that have flowed into the oceans over millions and millions of years have mostly been slightly acidic to not so slightly acidic (rivers have been measured as low as 5.6 pH )……..

    …….. Yet the oceans remain subbornly ALKALINE !!!

    Anyone who thinks a minor change in atmospheric CO2 is going to make one iota of difference, really needs their head examined. !

  32. Headline: The Oceans Are NOT Acidic.
    How did a paper like this pass peer review? Are there no true scientists left?
    Can someone calculate what the concentration of CO2 would need to be in sea water to make the oceans acidic?

  33. Any paper that makes predictions out to the year 2100 should automatically fail peer review. Instead a recommendation should be made to the writer to make his paper a submission to science-fiction periodicals.

    I am not even kidding. There is science fact in this paper, with some melo-drama, hypothesis and wild speculation, all which is good stuff for writing science-fiction.

  34. By 2100, ocean acidification could cost the global economy $3 trillion a year in lost revenue from fishing, tourism and intangible ecosystem services, according to a recent United Nations report

    Yeah. And monkeys might fly out of my butt.
    Any fool can create a bogeyman, and then tell you what said bogeyman “might” do.

  35. The article takes care to hide the fact that CaCO3 (calcite & aragonite) is more soluble in cooler water than warmer water, making it appear that pH is the only factor to consider in respect to solubilities. For some reason the article speaks of saturation instead of solubility. In actual fact, aragonite is the more soluble mineral of the two.
    This is simply more contrived alarmism, trying to make it appear that the natural variations in ocean pH is due to anthropogenic CO2, and that solubility is not dependent on temperature. But lower pH is simply due to the upwelling of deeper water.
    Note also the odd scaling on the pH graphic at the ends of the scale bar.
    Note also the pH of tropical waters is lower than mid-latitude. This is doubtless due to upwelling of the equatorial currents which brings the deep waters (with pH as low as 7.6) to the surface. This lower pH is due to the settling of organic debris into deeper water, not to CO2.
    The article stinks.

  36. Add my vote: Utter rubish! 8.0 is ALKALINE….Chem 101.

    People who think like this, need to find themselves on “The Island”…and then VOTED OFF. (Hopefully to float aimlessly in the middle of the ocean, NEVER making landfall.)

  37. Since there hasn’t been a global warming trend in 18+ years, and global temp trends will likely remain flat or falling for about another 20 years (because of: 30-yr PDO cool cycle started 2005, 30-yr AMO cool cycle starts 2020’s, weak solar cycles for at least another 15 years, etc.), the alarmists need to move the CAGW narrative away from global warming to ocean “acidification”.

    There is currently about 38,500 GT of C (as H2CO3) dissolved in the oceans and roughly 780 GT of C (as CO2) in the atmosphere (total 39,200 GT). Because of Henry’s Gas Law, the ratio will roughly remain at around 50:1.

    We know that for 100’s of millions of years, ocean and land life thrived when atmospheric CO2 levels were around 2,000ppm+, which calculates to roughly 192,500 GT of C (as H2CO3) in oceans and roughly 3,850 GT of C (as CO2) in the air for a total of 196,350 GT of C (50:1 ratio)…. We also know that even at 2,000ppm, oceans were STILL alkaline at around pH7.6…

    Simple question… Since 1750, man has emitted roughly 2,000 GT of C (as CO2) in the air, which only accounts for 5% of total C (2,000 GT/39,200 GT), after burning through roughly 50% of known fossil fuel reserves….

    Could some alarmist please explain to me where man is going to get another 157,070 GT of C, to bring atmospheric levels to 2,000ppm? And even if we could get to 2000ppm, oceans would STILL be alkaline at pH7.6….

    What am I missing?

    • What you are missing is the mixing speed between atmosphere and deep oceans. The ocean surface (~1000 GtC) and the atmosphere (~800 GtC) are mixing quite rapidly, but the deep oceans need a lot more time. Of the ~9 GtC/year emissions some 1 GtC/year is going into vegetation, 0.5 GtC/year in the ocean surface and ~3 GtC/year in the deep oceans, the rest accumulates in the atmosphere.

      The overall decay rate of the extra CO2 above equilibrium is about 40 years half life time, thus it takes time to get most of the extra CO2 into the deep, even if humans should stop all emissions today…

      If the continuous increase will have much effect on temperatures and pH remains to be seen…

      • “If the continuous increase will have much effect on temperatures and pH remains to be seen…”

        My understanding is that it’s already been seen to not have an impact…notably over the past 18+ years.

      • So in other words, according to that hypothesis that the atmospheric CO2-concnetration rises mainly due to anthropogenic production, about 50% of what was produced in the 90ties and about 30% what was produced in in the 00th is gone into equilibrium (mainly the deep oceans) and not the amount, but the rate of CO2 production determines the CO2-amount in the atmosphere => if we would keep the CO2-production constant, within 40years (your number, not mine) the concentration would become constant.

  38. If they are claiming that we are warming, then their claim that the oceans are absorbing more CO2 is simply bogus. Furthermore, their assumption that CO2 can acidify the complex buffer system called seawater is just junk science. Also at the temperatures of seawater, so wide and variable, the pH scale varies with temperature. At Arctic temperatures, the pH scale is 0–15, with 7.5 being neutrality. The lack of obvious adjustment for this disparity throws this who issue out the window.

  39. Also, warm water enhances CaCO3 deposition, so more warm water means more deposition. In addition, organisms thoroughly enjoy having more carbonate and have the physiological power to continue their processes despite a slight increase in CO2. As CO2 had been many time higher than now during the vast majority (>90%) of the last 600 million years, it is just stupid to pretend that today’s increases bother any organism in a negative way.

  40. “… it is just stupid to pretend that today’s increases bother any organism in a negative way.”

    Yep – also stupid to pretend that organisms are going to care about a change which is a couple of orders of magnitude smaller than the natural variation they are exposed to on a seasonal basis.

    • This is exactly my thoughts on all of the claims on impact of warming on vegetation. My oak trees back in New England didn’t give a hoot if the first day over 50deg happened in March or April. And they also didn’t care if the first day below 50Deg happened in August or Sept.
      None of them every packed up and left, and none of them died.
      The lack of common sense boggles the mind.

  41. The average level of CO2 for the period of modern life on earth, post Carboniferous, is about 1,500ppm. I wouldn’t start worrying until we hit that.

  42. I didn’t understand the story on the new research. But after reading all of your comments I feel as though I have just had a semester of Chemistry 301 and have a good basic grasp of ocean chemistry, I have learned a great deal. Thank you commenters.

  43. Somehow I am at a loss. As I sit at my desk sipping my Coca-Cola, small bubbles rise up as its temperature rises from 37 F to room temperature. The bubbles are CO2 driven out of solution by the rising temperature. My conclusion is global warming should drive off carbonic acid (CO2 in solution) making the water more alkaline, not more acid.

    If acidity is the problem, more heat is the answer. Am I right or wrong?

    • You are correctly observing Le Chatellier’s principle, governed over your desk by Henry’s law. Basic physical chemistry, both.
      Warmunists want ‘climate science’ reversals of those well established principles. Beyond unlikely.

    • The point is that the increase in temperature has little influence on the partial pressure of CO2 in the oceans: some 8 μatm/°C. Meanwhile the atmospheric pCO2 increased with 110 μatm, thus the net CO2 flux is from the atmosphere into the oceans, not reverse. That also can be seen in the increase of total carbon (DIC) in the ocean surface. If the temperature (or pH) were leading, DIC would decrease with lower pH and/or higher temperatures. But all series show the opposite: increased DIC, despite lower pH and higher temperatures…

  44. OK. 2013 CO₂ emissions:

    http://co2now.org/Current-CO2/CO2-Now/global-carbon-emissions.html

    9.9 billion metric tonnes. One cubic kilometer of seawater: 1 billion tonnes.

    Volume of the oceans: 1,385,999,653 cubic Km. Assume that ALL of the CO₂ goes into solution:

    9.9/1,385,999,653 (by weight) 0.000000714285%

    Of course all 9.9 Gt doesn’t go into solution. And the argument that it’s confined to the surface layers is basically poppycock.

    Which makes most of the human-CO₂-caused “acidification” a load o fbunk, just based on concentrations alone. Someone might quickly calculate the pH reduction of seawater if ALL of the CO₂ were dissolved? I’m too lazy to continue at this point. The thought that someone granted funds to such a study makes me very tired.

    • Mike, the exchange with the deep oceans is too slow to absorb all CO2 emitted by humans in short term. Of the 9 GtC/year only 0.5 GtC goes quickly in the ocean surface, which then is saturated. 1 GtC goes into vegetation and 3 GtC goes into the deep oceans, the rest, ~4.5 GtC remains in the atmosphere.

  45. Distribution matters. So is the implication that the well mixed greenhouse gas migrates seasonally to the Bering sea to confer primal protons to the ocean?

    I am sure this is already factored in to Ferdinand’s formula but only a very small percentage of CO2 that enters the ocean forms carbonic acid and reduces pH. The vast majority simply goes for a swim as molecular CO2 without contributing protons.

    More seriously the Bering Straits prevent contact with the ice (at least during interglacials), brine rejection, and the saline subduction that takes place in the North Atlantic and Southern oceans. The North Pacific waters are cold enough to suck up a lot of CO2 but not salty enough to sink.

  46. No self respecting scientist with an ounce of integrity would call 8.1 acid, nor would they talk of acidification when an alkaline solution moved very slightly towards neutrality.
    Therefore the authors have no respect for either themselves or for their scientific discipline, nor do they have any integrity as scientists. They are merely out for a funding boost from the ignorant people who hold the purse strings.

  47. The deep ocean, the abyssal plains are basalt from the spreading ridges. Basalt because they are primarily magnesium minerals. Basalt = basic salts, = magnesium salts, = Milk of Magnesia, = acidic buffers. Huge unimaginably so buffering capacity across many thousand of square Km’s in the deep benthic regions of the oceans. The continental shelves are lined with calcium carbonate deposits from ancient carbonate creatures (diatoms); the White Cliffs of Dover, those are common across the world’s continental shelves. Massive amounts of carbonate buffering in the shallow waters.

    Between the abyssal plains magnesium basalts and the continental-shelf CaCO2 deposits, the ocean’s buffering will not allow more than 0.2 pH change in either direction for even the most massive of pCO2 excursions.

      • Was it the same glass of wine that inspired your Basalt=basic salts? A nice mnemonic but I bet it wasn’t what the Romans meant by basanites.

  48. Ok. ‘Acidification’ is caused by upwelling of water with decay by-products. How does atmospheric CO2 make the waters more acidic, does it displace other chemical which would otherwise be outgassed?

  49. The paper itself says:

    Time-series data show that pH has declined at a mean rate of about -0.002 pH per year.

    And here’s the claim in the press release:

    Takahashi finds that waters as far north as Iceland and as far south as Antarctica are acidifying at the rate of 5 percent per decade. His estimate corresponds to the amount of CO2 humans are adding to the atmosphere, and is consistent with several recent estimates, including a 2014 study in the journal Oceanography led by Nicholas Bates, research director at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences.“This is exactly what we’d expect based on how much CO2 we’ve been putting in the air,” said Rik Wanninkhof, a Miami-based oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) who was not involved in the study.

    Mmmm … -0.002 pH per year is -0.02 pH per decade, or about 0.2 pH units per century. The water off of the coast of California where I live changes that much every couple of weeks. Since their threatened change over a century is less than the change in a couple of weeks in the ocean off of where I live, I fear the alarmism doesn’t ring true.

    “This is an important point for scientists to underscore—these calculations are not magic.”If the current pace of ocean acidification continues, warm-water corals by 2050 could be living in waters 25 percent more acidic than they are today, said Takahashi.

    Actually, that calculation is indeed magic. It’s now 2014. If the pH decreases by 5% per decade, that’s about 18 percent less alkaline by 2050, not 25%.

    And this overlooks the fact that using their own numbers (0.02 pH/decade), it’s only 4.5% per decade, or 16% change by 2050, nowhere near 25%.

    Gotta say … when I see claims like 3.6 times 5% equals 25%, and the final answer increases the alarm, the paper goes straight to the circular file.

    w.

    PS—Can I register a huge objection to measuring changes in alkalinity/acidity in percent? There’s a good reason that we use a logarithmic scale, which is that the effects and the strength vary with the log of the underlying measurements. Using percentages leads to a hugely inflated estimate of the effects of such changes.

    • Oh, but Willis, you’re entirely missing the point. If “scientists” gave pH data using the pH logarithmic scale, it wouldn’t sound nearly scary enough…

      It’s much scarier to say, “‘acidity’ will increase 30%”, because low-information voters get the impression oceans will soon be as acidic as battery acid if we continue driving those evil cars and stop building $multi-billion solar farms…

      Who wants to snorkel in battery acid?

      To too many climatologists, it’s not about finding and disseminating the truth, it’s about securing grant funding to pump out bogus propaganda puff papers like this one.

  50. “In a recent study by researchers at NOAA, more than half of the pteropods sampled off the coast of Washington, Oregon and California showed badly dissolved shells.”

    Surface seawater cannot dissolve pteropods shell because it is supersaturated in aragonite. They are probably exposed to deep seawater which is unsaturated in aragonite. Are they dead? If not, why is it bad? Marine organisms constantly rebuild their shells.

    “By 2100, ocean acidification could cost the global economy $3 trillion a year in lost revenue from fishing, tourism and intangible ecosystem services”

    These are all projections of models. What are the real economic and environmental impacts of ‘OA’ today? No mention. Perhaps because there is none.

  51. Fourty-five years a chemist, one of the earliest to specialise in environmental chemistry and I have never read such unmitigated, unbalanced twaddle in a paper. And from a person(s) claiming to be a geochemist!! The more outlandish the claims these characters make to get funded the more time will expose this nonsense to be the gross exaggeration it is. In the meantime, the shell builders wont give a rodents posterior.

    • Yup, I used to be a geochemist. The article is bilge-water. Even at a distance of 24 years since I last practiced science, I can see what a crock that article is. Unmitigated rubbish. I nearly sprayed my coffee over my screen and keyboard. However, it is worth preserving as an exemplar of the depths to which “climate science” has sunk. The authors should be obliged to read out loud the comments on this page, then fired.

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

    “However, the term can also lead to confusion
    when it is wrongly assumed that the oceans will become acidic, when in reality, ocean pH is never expected to fall below 7.0; i.e., the oceans are becoming
    less basic, but not acidic. Such a phenomenon could
    only occur in the unlikely event that CO2 emissions
    reach more than 10,000 Pg C (Caldeira and Wickett,
    2005)”

  53. I would not like to have the first-aider at LDEO treat me for any Acid or Alkaline burns I may get. If they do not understand the difference between the two then they need waking up!

  54. Ocean Acidification nice scary sounding words , less base sea more accurate but a lot less scary sounding , now you pick which one to use when your seeking to ‘promote’ an outlook.

  55. “….fallen from 8.2 to 8.1 by 0.1 pH unit, equal to a 30 percent increase in acid concentration.”.
    What is not sated is that chemists do not express pH this way.
    Do not be tricked into thinking that this (false) scale has only 100 percents. It has thousands of percents from one end to the other and this tiny change is close to, or even less than, the error involved in sampling and measurement.

  56. Peddlers of ocean “acidification” should be jailed for fraud or institutionalised for inadequate brain function.

    All marine calcified phyla such as corals and echinoderms evolved when the atmosphere contained 20 times more CO2 than today.

    • I take it you’re referring to the Cambrian? Let’s have a look at the some of the major extinction events since then:

      Ordovician–Silurian extinction: 450 Ma to 440 Ma. CO2: 7,000 ppm to 4,400 ppm. ***

      Late Devonian extinction: 374 Ma. CO2: 2,200 ppm to 800 ppm (leading into the Carboniferous).

      Permian-Triassic extinction: 252 Ma. CO2: 900 ppm to 1,750 ppm.

      All three were particularly rough on corals, echinoderms, bivalves and a litany of other benthic species. The Devonian extinction pretty much only affected sea life and all but wiped out reef-building corals — which didn’t reappear until AFTER the P-T extinction sometime in the Mesozoic. Of these three, the P-T extiction was the very worst: > 95% of all marine and ~70% of terrestrial vertebrate species. Plus the only known mass extinction of insects.

      If you want to oversimplify speciation/extinction as such, you may want to check first that the worst extinctions don’t coincide with CO2 trends going in the opposite direction of the point you’re attempting to make.

      ———

      *** estimated mean concentration for each geologic period.

      • Brandon

        Bringing in extinction events does nothing to contradict my point. It represents a (failed) attempt at “refutation by obfuscation”. My point is indeed simple – and none the worse for that. During the period of evolution and radiation of calcified marine organisms, for many tens of millions of years, CO2 levels were an order of magnitude higher than now. This “simple” fact is a complete and self-sufficient refutation of the notion that adding a few tens of ppm of CO2 to a pliocene ice house atmosphere can ib any way whatsoever threaten marine calcified organisms on the basis for instance of pH.

        You bring in the big extinctions but thus does not change the above argument one iota. So some extinctions may have raised the already high CO2 levels way higher still, due to massive volcanism from continents tearing apart or a flood basalt. That does not mean that the CO2 levels outside of the extinction episodes are tarred by the same brush of harmfulness. That would be like saying “80% oxygen is lethal to humans. Therefore 20% oxygen cant be good either”.

        The key ingredient of the spectacular marone extinctions was ocean anoxia. This probably resulted from complete stalling of deep ocean circulation. Excess warming would be needed for this, maybe with a CO2 involvement. However these extinctions were exceptional excursions. Remember that “the dose is the toxin”. A very high dose of caffeine or many other things will kill you. But lower doses are quite benign.

  57. If you look at the graphic and take it at face value you can see that the ‘acidity’ of the oceans varies naturally from place to place. From the colour scale we can say that this natural variation extends at least from a pH of about 8 to a pH of 8.16. This natural variation therefore greatly overwhelms the claimed 0.1 ph unit change since the start of the industrial era.

    To put it in percentage terms (although this is a stupid thing to do) some parts of the ocean are already 45% more acidic than elsewhere, depending on where you sample and obviously it doesn’t cause any problems.

    It is dishonest to present to a lay audience that a reduction in alkalinity means the oceans are turning to acid. The oceans are alkaline and will always remain alkaline. A slight decrease in ph is simply a move towards neutrality.

    Since there is already 70 times more CO2 dissolved in the ocean than is present in the air, if it were all to dissolve tomorrow, it would not make much difference to ‘acidity’ (but we would all die).

  58. “In a recent study by researchers at NOAA, more than half of the pteropods sampled off the coast of Washington, Oregon and California showed badly dissolved shells”,

    The link to the “recent study” is not working. The required PH to dissolve calicium carbonate shells was that also found in this “recent study”? If not maybe an alternative explanation should have been put forward.

  59. Claiming the Bering Sea is the most acidic place on Earth is an opening falsehood for starters.
    Why cliamte obsessed people resort to lying about the state of the climate and data itself is starting to be annoying. Far too many so-called scientists deliberately deceive people by choosing scary or inflammatory labels for their work…if not outright deceptive.

  60. Oh, yeah:
    The Bering Sea is one of the richest places on Earth for shellfish. I guess we can thank this study’s authors for proving that sea life is not particularly sensitive to fluctuations. And looking at the map, it seems that wherever water is cold or a place is subject to upwellings of cold water, the pH drops. Chemistry 101 tells us why: Cold water can hold more CO2. The Bering Sea is pretty cold and isolated.
    How much of this study was based on actual measurements, by the way?
    How much is designed to simply scare a willingly gullible group of politicians and journalists?

  61. Anthony, please note that these purple colours up by the Aleutians are “the far end of the Gulf Stream” where naturally acid deep waters up well. They are naturally acid because of Gts of rotting plankton at depth. There is also upwelling in the Indian Ocean which is where the dark blue comes from.

    The aragonite compensation depth in the Pacific is much more shallow than in the Atlantic.

    I am also wary of using “30%” more acid since in my book it is not possible to go beyond 100%.

  62. I thought precipitation of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) would arrest any pH changes from increased CO2(aq) since CaCO3 is a powerful pH buffer and exists in state of equilibrium with CO2(aq) meaning any increase in CO2(aq) would force a corresponding increase in CaCO3 and hence arrest any pH change.

    PS: Is Jo Nova’s blog offline? Can’t load-up the page.

    • Jo’s site loaded for me…
      ——————
      AFAICS, there isn’t enough C on planet Earth to turn the oceans acidic. I’m often wrong, so in case of calculation errors, we might have to demand that the government bans or taxes C.
      /s

      • No – you’re right, there isn’t enough C. If all the CO2 in the atmosphere suddenly dissolved in the ocean it would increase the ocean CO2 content by ~1 ppm.

  63. Meio neutro 25ºC
    [H+] = [OH–] = 1,0 x 10-7 mol/L
    pH = 7
    pOH = 7
    ============
    Meio neutro 45ºC
    [H+] = [OH–] = 2,0 x 10-7 mol/L
    pH = – log 2,0 x 10-7 = 6,7
    pOH = – log 2,0 x 10-7 = 6,7

  64. ““We have established a global standard for future changes to be measured””

    Translation from Climatologese into English:

    ‘These are the measurements any deviation from which will be considered both alarming and fraught with danger.’

    You know, just like Dobson’s original magical 110 unit ozone measurement.

  65. Bogus conclusions not supported by reasonable plausible mechanism. Consider the tiny fraction of atmospheric CO2 that is added by human activity. Consider that CO2 is but a tiny fraction of all atmospheric molecules. Consider the vastness of the oceans. There is no way that tiny human sourced fraction of total CO2 can be changing oceans. It is more likely that this increase corresponds better to the greening of the Earth.

    Idiots.

    • Nicely summarized Pamela. WUWT doesn’t need more justification to grant a scientific Darwin/raspberry award for this well deserving ocean acidification scare.

    • Pamela,

      Human emissions are 3% of total emissions, natural releases are 97%. Natural sinks are 98.5% of the total emissions, thus giving an increase of 1.5% of total emissions in the atmosphere, entirely caused by humans.

      The increase in the atmosphere is currently 110 ppmv above the dynamic equilibrium for the current temperature. That pushes more CO2 into the oceans, no matter if that is a tiny fraction of the atmosphere: it is way above what Henry’s law shows for CO2 and seawater.

      The vastness of the deep oceans doesn’t play a role in short time: the exchange with the deep oceans is slow. Only the ocean surface matters and that shows a small, but steady decline of pH in ratio to the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere. That is what the measurements say and that can be explained by a very plausible mechanism: the solubility of CO2 under increased atmospheric partial pressure and the chemistry of ocean waters…

  66. I’ve read most of this thread and seen a lot of huffing and puffing about acidification and alarmist shenanigans and this and that, but where are the skeptic oceanographers? By “oceanographer,” I don’t mean someone who conducts research in a field closely related to the world’s oceans (such as atmospheric physics or meteorology), I mean someone whose specific field of study is the world’s oceans.

    The Ocean Sciences division of the American Geophysical Union claims ~6,600 members as of 2014; the Department of Labor estimates 31,000 oceanographers currently researching in the United States. No idea how many actively researching oceanographers we have on the planet; presumably the global tally is upwards of 100,000.

    Anyway, I’m not here to defend/dispute the 97% consensus, but 97% of 31,000 is 930. Yet I don’t know of anyone on the NIPCC or elsewhere whose focus of active research is the world’s oceans.

    With tens of thousands of oceanographers worldwide, there should be at least hundreds (thousands, more realistically) who dispute AGW and/or dispute these claims of acidification. Where are they?

    • DW, the main problem is that many here do refute AGW (which indeed is at least largely overblown) but also everything that is remotely supporting some part of AGW or can be interpreted as support for AGW.

      You can see that in the fierce discussions about the origin of the CO2 increase. Because that is one of the pillars of AGW, the origin can’t be human, even if all evidence points to humans as the main source…

      The same for this pH discussion. While the wording of the press release is clearly written by some alarmist spin doctor, that doesn’t imply that the findings themselves are wrong and that humans can’t be blamed for the (very small) decline in pH. While humans are (near) fully responsible for the 30% rise of CO2 in the atmosphere, which is 110 ppmv above the dynamic equilibrium for the current temperature… If that doesn’t push more CO2 into the oceans, nothing can. And if more CO2 is pushed into the oceans, that lowers the pH.

      If that will have negative consequences is an entirely different question. The past did show much higher CO2 levels with abundant sea life, including corals and coccoliths…

      All what happens from these discussions is that rejecting sound science does fire back on the better arguments that skeptics have: the discussion about the real impact of a CO2 doubling in light of the long lasting “pause”…

      • “The past did show much higher CO2 levels with abundant sea life, including corals and coccoliths…”

        I agree with much of what you wrote, but this sentence I quoted is not relevant. The issue is also the rate of the increase in CO2 concentration…Chemical processes work to shift the ocean pH back to being more basic even as CO2 levels stay high; the problem is that the time scale for these processes is slow compared to the time scale at which we are currently increasing the pH.

      • In truth the support for the statement that increased CO2 in the oceans is beneficial, likely has better scientific support then the declared harms.

      • Joel, according to recent research, the pH during the Cretaceous was a half to 1 unit lower with CO2 levels a lot higher in the atmosphere. Coccoliths have many generations per year and seems to adapt very rapidly to changing pH. Corals even can handle changes of 1 pH unit within a day as they are growing often near river estuaries… Thus even if the pH drop accelerates (until now 0.1 unit over 160 years), I don’t see a real problem.

      • I appreciate your response but am obligated to note that (in my opinion) it in no way addresses my original question.

        By the way (to anyone reading this), how about a glaciologist? One glaciologist whose research indicates that anthropogenic climate change is either not happening or is not a concern. Thousands of them as well; seeking one (1).

      • DW, That is two different questions:

        1) Can I name a glaciologist whose research indicates that anthropogenic climate change is not happening?
        Answer: No.
        Climate Change is happening. It always has and it always will. relevant to your example is the case of ice ages. That was when the glaciers formed. As we are not in an ice age glaciologists often notice that glaciers don’t cover most of the planet.

        2) Can I name a glaciologist whose research indicates that his research is not of concern and so not important?
        Answer: No.
        Any researcher who finds his research is not important loses funding and so ceases to be a researcher. that applies to glaciologists as well as everyone else. By definition, no glaciologist can stay being a glaciologist and say that their research is not of concern – other glaciologists whose research is of concern will get the funding instead and thus they will cease to be a glaciologist.

        However, it has been shown that the IPCC needed to use a Greenpeace activist’s article for a mountaineering magazine as evidence of glaciers actually being of concern… so it is fair to say that there isn’t a lot of evidence that your questions or my answers are very relevant.

    • one way keeps the gravy flowing , the other way cuts it off , one way gets you status and the support of willing press , the other loses you status, one way suites the politicians one way means you get in the neck f from politicians, one way gets you the adoration of the greens one way makes you the target of their hate , you decide which way to take.

      • I appreciate the response, but it is difficult to interpret this as anything but a roundabout implication that pretty much every one of the tens of thousands of oceanographers in the U.S. (let alone worldwide) are at some level either actively or passively committing academic fraud by choosing to remain silent on the falsehoods clearly and unequivocally supported by every established organization of oceanographers on the planet.

        This comment has sat here for two days as comments have continued to post, yet (evidently) not one reader of this thread can name _even_ _one_ oceanographer who disputes the official position of our oceanographic authorities on either acidification or the scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change. Personally, I’d want to see thousands before accepting that there is any dispute over either topic, but I’d settle for hundreds. Even a couple dozen. Yet…not even one.

        That doesn’t seem odd to anyone reading this? There is clearly no shortage of intelligent folks here; can any of you understand how outlandish it would be to accept your completely anecdotal rebuttal without the barest shred of proof*?

        *No, six-year-old stolen emails do not constitute proof of global conspiracy by even the most generous definition.

  67. Mr. Takahashi and the rest of the “team of scientist” on this report need to have all their college credits erased and sent back to junior high. The range 7.74–8.4 is alkaline.
    The words “acid”, “acidification”, “acidity” should never appear in this report and that they use them means either they do not know basic science or are liars for money.

    • I go for liars for money , grant cheques in this case , although they could be true believers that consider facts comes second to impact when your doing ‘research’

  68. Looks to me like where it is very cold, and wet, the CO2 is stripped from the air ( via a cold water stripper aka rain and snow) and where the ocean is hot, the CO2 outgasses. Not seeing much human involvement in that distribution…

  69. There have been times in the past when atmospheric CO2 was much higher than now. Is there any evidence at all that molluscs or corals suffered mass extinctions at those times? If not, there would seem to be no basis for this obsession with ocean pH.

    • As I just explained up here, https://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/11/10/claim-new-global-maps-detail-human-caused-ocean-acidification/#comment-1785955 , it is more complicated than you are supposing: There is not a direct correspondence between the ocean pH and the atmospheric CO2 concentration. It depends on the rate of change of the atmospheric CO2 concentration because there are processes in the ocean that bring it back to its slightly alkaline state even in the presence of higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations but those processes take time to occur and we are changing the CO2 concentration very rapidly (relative to the time scales for these other processes).

      • joeldshore,

        ” it is more complicated than you are supposing”

        Who are you replying to?

        “There is not a direct correspondence between the ocean pH and the atmospheric CO2 concentration”

        Are you alluding to buffering? Please tell us more! Can you quantify, in rough terms, what the “time scales for these other processes” are? I am noting the plural here!

  70. (Quoting)
    “Takahashi finds that waters as far north as Iceland and as far south as Antarctica are acidifying at the rate of 5 percent per decade. His estimate corresponds to the amount of CO2 humans are adding to the atmosphere, and is consistent with several recent estimates”

    – Just another dubious claim that nothing like this has ever possibly happened naturally, besides, characters that claim to be this learned should know that correlation is not proof of causation.

  71. This quote from the article should be considered closely:
    “A team of scientists has published the most comprehensive picture yet of how acidity levels vary across the world’s oceans, providing a benchmark for years to come as enormous amounts of human-caused carbon emissions continue to wind up at sea.”
    If one actually reads the map in the article, not square meter of the world’s oceans are acidic. Nor are they becoming “more acidic”. At most there are regions in the oceans where pH varies down more than others. It is notable that the study authors punt when it ocmes tot he equatorial waters, where pH variance is well known. Perhaps what we are seeing a nice bit of cherry picking? Someone with academic creds needs to point this out to the editors of the publication.

  72. Horse latitudes, higher pH, tropics and upper latitudes, lower pH. Horse latitudes, deserts and less inflow of fresh water and the water that does flow in tends not to be “sweetwater” (e.g. is alkaline). Other places have good inflows of sweetwater. To boot, that sweetwater has run off from well forested areas and we know what that does to pH. QED.

  73. Question;
    Asking from ignorance as a newby, is CO2 the only influence on pH in the oceans? Do the many tons of garbage man dumps and/or freshwater & melting inputs have any influence? Or volcanic activity?
    TIA for any info.

    When I look at the ratio of CO2 in the atmosphere to the other components, I find it difficult to imagine that there would be that much effect from the increases; a common mans common sense.

    Strikes me that this might be a display of “conclusion jumping” similar to the (mis)conception that CO2 is the main driver of climate.

  74. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001181.htm

    Acidosis is a condition in which there is too much acid in the body fluids.

    http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001183.htm

    Alkalosis is a condition in which the body fluids have excess base (alkali).

    Which one sounds like the more “alarming” condition?

    Recalling that blood pH is normally regulated between 7.35 and 7.45, is it or is it not accurate to say that almost all of us suffer from chronic Alkalosis?

    • Brandon,

      It is not accurate. It is silly.
      Please, come over to the Light. You will receive a button; “I survived acid/base terminology trauma.”
      You will attract a better class of friend and will enjoy life more.

      • I dunno. The last time I conceded that calling it “ocean debasicification” was acceptable terminology, someone else came along and chewed my butt by saying, “yeah, but you had to be called on it first you dishonest git” or some such. So I’ve filed it under the same class of non-arguments as carping about “back radiation” and take no prisoners.

  75. A little platitude from Wikipedia:

    “Most limestone is composed of skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera”

    Given the fact that huge amounts of limestone were produced in the jurassic and cretaceous age when the CO2 concentration of the atmosphere was 4 to 5 times higher than today, how can anybody claim that corals and foraminifera are in danger owing to the rather small increase of atmospheric CO2 in the last decades ???

    • By totally ignoring the fact, or by explaining it away (to themselves or to others) using ultra technical babble-speak to justify saying ‘well *this* time it’s different’ …which doesn’t help in the long run anyway because there will be someone who knows more about the subject matter to call ‘ultra technical BS’ which drives them even madder in their cognitive dissonance.

    • Try going back to the Cambrian when CO2 levels were ~4,500 ppmv.

      Here’s a very rough outline. Raindrops absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. Water runs across carbonate rocks, eroding them and picking up minerals in solution and as sediment. Rivers flow into the oceans. Ocean surface water evaporates leaving behind heavy mineral ions. Process repeats until carbonates become saturated, at which point additional carbonate precipitates out of solution and falls to the bottom. Net result: a buffered ocean with a stable slightly basic pH and a drawdown of atmospheric CO2 which is now sequestered in solution or on the seafloor. Plate tectonics move deep ocean sediments back into the mantle. Atmospheric CO2 stabilizes at the point that volcanism reintroduces carbon at the same rate that rainfall and direct ocean absorption sequester it. I’ve completely left biological processes out of this in some faint hope of brevity.

      A full geologic carbon cycle takes slightly longer than a few decades, something which has been known to textbooks since the 1950s, and was first proposed in literature sometime in the 19th century.

  76. (Quoting)
    “acidifying at the rate of 5 percent per decade”
    Another question from the dummy; How much is 1% of a pH value? is it in ppm of alkalinity or what? why don’t they quit the doublespeak and quantify the change in pH?

    • pH is a logarithmic scale. To talk about % changes in a logarithmic scale is a scientific and mathematical abomination. In chemistry, this treatment of the pH scale a big red flag for an ignoramus or a liar.

      By their words yea shall know them.

  77. He has measured the global ocean pH from a single boat? Yeahhh… right. And if the global pH ‘measurements’ in the first figure were even near believable they would cause serious embarrassment to the carbon cycle models. I posit “bollox”.

  78. It would be interesting to see an overall comparison of pH values and net primary productivity by oceanic region. Some of the best fishing grounds are in low pH areas. Needs work.

  79. phlogiston,

    Bringing in extinction events does nothing to contradict my point. It represents a (failed) attempt at “refutation by obfuscation”.

    WOOOOSH!

    So some extinctions may have raised the already high CO2 levels way higher still, due to massive volcanism from continents tearing apart or a flood basalt.

    The Late Devonian extinction was marked by what looked to be a period of glaciation. Extreme volcanism could have caused it, as could an impact event. Hard to know. Clearly the oceans experienced periods of extreme anoxia but the answers to the “why” questions remain unsatisfyingly inconclusive. CO2 dropped from 2k to 800 ppm running into the Carboniferous, but much of that can be explained by the explosion of terrestrial plant life.

    However these extinctions were exceptional excursions.

    [chortle] Yes, well adaptation does take time, doesn’t it.

    That would be like saying “80% oxygen is lethal to humans. Therefore 20% oxygen cant be good either.”

    Mainline several units of sterile distilled water via IV … enough so that your blood pH drops below 7.35. Marvel when the ER doc tells you that you’ve got acidosis even though your blood still constitutes a basic solution according to the oft-cited first year Chem text. Get back to me when you realize that you really can have too much of a seemingly benign thing.

    In the case of modern corals that 0.1 downward change in pH isn’t so much a big deal in and of itself, it’s more an indication that the carbonate ions which would normally be available to react with dissolved calcium ions are instead buffering out the higher concentration of H+ ions. Corals can spit out H+ and keep the Ca2+ ions — they’ve been doing it a long time now — but as the relative concentration of H+ goes up they have to work harder to do it. Which means they need to consume more nutrients. As niche organisms, immobile ones at that, they don’t have the same adaptation/relocation options that other more generalist/mobile species do. In every mass extinction known, the niche species tend to be the hardest hit. As a keystone species, there’s a lot riding for we humans on keeping coral reefs healthy … we eat stuff that comes out of fisheries anchored by reef systems.

    There are no simple answers here. You cannot arbitrarily twiddle the dials on the biosphere while copping an “aw shucks, CO2 concentration was 20 times higher a bazillion evolutionary years ago, wots the big deal” attitude and expect things to remain hunky dory with species that took several tens of thousands of years to adapt to present climactic conditions.

    • Brandon

      “You cannot arbitrarily twiddle the dials on the biosphere while copping an “aw shucks, CO2 concentration was 20 times higher a bazillion evolutionary years ago, wots the big deal” attitude and expect things to remain hunky dory with species that took several tens of thousands of years to adapt to present climactic conditions.”

      [chortle] Yes, well adaptation does take time, doesn’t it.

      Actually – you can. Evolution can be fast. Satellite and other data shows “greening” of marginal ecosystems in the last half century (see e.g. Matt Ridley presentations) showing that plants are happily adapting to increased CO2 within a single human lifetime. A simple variable like stomatal density can change in very few generations. No deep time needed for this. Ratios of C3/C4 plants can also change practically in “real time” (evolutionarily speaking). The evidence is generally for good, not bad, effects on plants of currently increasing CO2. The only thing to which this is toxic is AGW alarmism.

      BTW nice to see words made up by Lewis Caroll in “Jaberwocky” e.g. “chortle” entering the English language.

      The big fall in CO2 caused by spread of trees in the Silurian-Carboniferous is indeed interesting, here is a paper about it. It shows that trees may exert a negative feedback in regard to any CO2 warming, since increased tree transpiration will have a cooling effect – provided enough trees remain of course.

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC547859/pdf/pnas-0408724102.pdf

      quote: “That would be like saying “80% oxygen is lethal to humans. Therefore 20% oxygen cant be good either.”

      Mainline several units of sterile distilled water via IV … enough so that your blood pH drops below 7.35. Marvel when the ER doc tells you that you’ve got acidosis even though your blood still constitutes a basic solution according to the oft-cited first year Chem text. Get back to me when you realize that you really can have too much of a seemingly benign thing.

      That was meant to be sarcasm but you appear to have taken it straight. Are you really saying that the 20% of oxygen in the atmosphere is harmful to us? There was me thinking that we needed it for old fashioned activities like breathing. But this is not surprising. This simply illustrates the scale of the epistemological collapse of modern science. Because the peddling of scare stories about everything connected with human industrial activity has become so profitable and such a pillar of “scientific” research output, most scientists have lost the ability to understand that something can be beneficial (or at least harmless) at low doses but harmful at high. No – as soon as we can show that force-feeding a rat with a huge dose of anything is harmful, it is not obligatory to believe on the utterly flawed basis of “safety first” that all doses of that substance, or agent, must also be harmful. In fields such as radiation biology – as corrupt as climate science – this logical and scientific fallacy takes the form of the linear no threshold or “LNT” delusion. So 10 Gy kills 100% of people, 1 Gy kills 10%. It “follows” that 100 mGy will kill 1 %, 10 mGy 0.1% and so on. This approach ignores with extreme predjudice the actual experimental data on rodents, plants and many other organisms that low doses below about 50 mGy generally are either harmless or even improve longevity, decrease (not increase) cancer incidence (in rodents by stimulating immune response – anything that does this generally improves health outcomes). Low doses can be really benign – not just “seemingly” so.

      Anyway – enough biology. To repeat, your extinction event argument does not hold water. CO2 might have been elevated due to volcanism at certain mass extinctions but was not necessarily the primary cause. And since the palaeo record of CO2 concentration has low resolution, we cannot say that the current CO2 rise is unprecedented. The data is simply not there to claim that. Your comments and those of Joel Shore show that since the argument that currently rising CO2 levels per se are harmful is untenable in the light of history, the AGW position is having to take refuge in the rate of change argument, and morph into d/dt AGW. This refuge will also prove illusory.

      • phlogiston,

        Are you really saying that the 20% of oxygen in the atmosphere is harmful to us?

        No. I’m saying that when human blood ph deviates from the range of 7.35 to 7.45 that Bad Things begin to happen. Note that the difference between them is 0.1 pH … where have we seen that number recently?

        It’s a safe bet corals are far less sensitive to pH changes in the waters in which they live — most organisms have evolved to regulate their internals in response to the external environment. That doesn’t mean that environmental changes are always free of cost. Maybe most reef-builders have enough in the bank account to cover this one. Maybe not. Maybe something in between.

        Evolution can be fast.

        The canonical example when I was in school was the peppered moth. The thing to keep in mind there is that melanism in that species is controlled by very few genes and their alleles. As far as stomatal density in flora goes — my first question is which plants? How critical are they to their local biosphere? Stomal count in some (or many, do we know?) species may be able to adapt rapidly to changing atmospheric conditions, but what about root systems to changing soil chemistry and rainfall patterns? What about any changes in the mix of faunal species — will their predators increase or decrease? Will any symbiotic relationships with insects, fungi, bacteria change for the better or worse?

        Satellite and other data shows “greening” of marginal ecosystems in the last half century (see e.g. Matt Ridley presentations) showing that plants are happily adapting to increased CO2 within a single human lifetime.

        In areas not affected by droughts. Some areas have experience more rainfall than normal, does Ridley’s analysis control for either of these? I’m not entirely convinced that droughts are more than just weather (see the dust bowl era) so I’m loath to press this argument much further. I will say that if there is a way to maximize crop production to take advantage of rising CO2, you can bet big agra will find it. Whether they pull off that trick plus find a way to raise crop yields with less water … I’m gonna say not much of a chance.

        It shows that trees may exert a negative feedback in regard to any CO2 warming, since increased tree transpiration will have a cooling effect – provided enough trees remain of course.

        At the surface via evaporation. That could be a zero-sum game … or not. Increased respiration = increased water demand and that might be an issue even without drought. Water vapor is a far more potent and prevalent greenhouse gas than CO2. Etc.

        Nice paper though, thanks for the tip. The final sentence of the abstract summarizes it well I think: ” The existence of positive feedbacks reveals the unexpected destabilizing influence of the biota in climate regulation that led to environmental modifications accelerating rates of terrestrial plant and animal evolution in the Paleozoic.”

        No – as soon as we can show that force-feeding a rat with a huge dose of anything is harmful, it is not obligatory to believe on the utterly flawed basis of “safety first” that all doses of that substance, or agent, must also be harmful. In fields such as radiation biology – as corrupt as climate science – this logical and scientific fallacy takes the form of the linear no threshold or “LNT” delusion.

        You really don’t see that your statement, “All marine calcified phyla such as corals and echinoderms evolved when the atmosphere contained 20 times more CO2 than today” is an example of the same fallacy in reverse, do you.

        To repeat, your extinction event argument does not hold water. CO2 might have been elevated due to volcanism at certain mass extinctions but was not necessarily the primary cause.

        The first corals which evolved in the Cambrian when CO2 concentrations were an order of magnitude higher than today did so under that condition, plus whatever other state the land and oceans were in as well as whatever other contemporary biota they interacted with. Isn’t it because of such complexities (plus uncertainties and unknowns) that you keep bringing up other factors to rebut me? Why do you get to pluck “8,000 ppm didn’t hurt Cambrian corals one bit” and leave the analysis at that to make your argument, but you go to pointing out factor after other factor to address the “errors” in mine? Hmmm?

        And since the palaeo record of CO2 concentration has low resolution, we cannot say that the current CO2 rise is unprecedented.

        Bollocks. I defy you to find a statement in primary literature where “unprecedented” isn’t further and specifically qualified. And which paleo records are you talking about? There are a bazillion. As a practical matter, the first records I’d go to would cover the Holocene because that’s most representative of the climate to which we — human beings, the species I most care about — have optimized our vast amounts of infrastructure. The following link contains CO2 concentrations estimated from Antarctica EPICA Dome C going back 11 Ka:

        ftp://ftp.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/paleo/icecore/antarctica/epica_domec/dc_co2_hol_fl02.txt

        The average annual resolution is 307.7 years. The lowest annual resolution is 602 years between 1948 and 2550 Ybp (from 1950). The earliest reported age is 435 Ybp, with a CO2 concentration of 281.9 ppmv. By year 0 (1950) CO2 had risen to 310.7 ppmv, an absolute change of 28.8 ppmv, which works out to a rate of change of 6.62 ppmv/century. What you’re trying to tell me here is that the EPICA Dome C ice cores don’t have enough resolution to determine if that 435 year change is unprecedented?

        Very well. Explain to me the mechanism by which atmospheric CO2 spikes up and down on the order of 30 ppmv over the course of 400ish years. Next, tell me how it is that the EPICA Dome C ice cores happened to be unlucky enough to never pick up a single one of them. Finally, tell me why every other paleo study using proxies with similar resolution has been so freakishly unlucky to miss all those other extreme spikes as well.

        … the AGW position is having to take refuge in the rate of change argument, and morph into d/dt AGW. This refuge will also prove illusory.

        LOL. You just spent several sentences lecturing me that proxies don’t have enough resolution to detect high rates of change. Now suddenly you know that rate of change is an illusory refuge. How? If you yourself tell me that the data don’t tell us anything about unprecedented rate of change, how in the heck can you claim that it’s not a concern?

        The only thing to which this is toxic is AGW alarmism.

        Political sloganeering is toxic to critical thinking, comprehensive deliberation and scientific debate. If you think that reactionary AGW chicken littles are the only ones guilty of doing it, I just don’t know what else I can say.

      • There are better resolution ice cores which cover the Holocene, be it that the resolution get worse the longer the total time frame is (the reverse of the snow accumulation = layer thickness/year). Here for most of the Holocene:

        Where the Taylor Dome ice core has a resolution of less than 40 years over the past 10,000 years and beyond…

  80. Please, please, PLEASE stop the silly semantic arguments about using the term “acidic”. We sound like a pack of mindless jabbering macaws when we get caught up in meaningless minutiae. There are very real and obvious problems with the claims being made. The use of the term “acidic” is absurdly trivial compared to, for example:

    1. The oceans cover two-thirds of the earth and the number of instruments providing a reasonably long-term measure of acidity is vanishingly small. Can you really claim to have a solid grasp of regional or global acidity and trends?
    2. Instruments that measure acidity in a lab aren’t sensitive enough to show the tiny trends supposedly being measured. Can ones deployed in the oceans do better? Doesn’t the margin of error far exceed the supposed trend being measured?

    • Lauren,

      Please, please, PLEASE stop the silly semantic arguments about using the term “acidic”.

      Yep, we do talk of pH 7 being “neutral” because pOH 7 ≈ 14 – pH = 7. However oceans are a pretty far from reagent grade distilled water. They’re are not pH “neutral” by a litmus test, but then again neither are pH “balanced” hair and skin products for the simple reason that “natural” skin and hair pH ranges from 5 to 6. The phrase “more acidic” is only “scary” to people who are not well enough educated to understand the concept of relativeness to a beginning (or standard, expected, normal, “natural”) state — or who has never gotten burned by a high molar solution of strong base.

      Which by the commentary is nobody here.

      1. The oceans cover two-thirds of the earth and the number of instruments providing a reasonably long-term measure of acidity is vanishingly small. Can you really claim to have a solid grasp of regional or global acidity and trends?

      One paper isn’t going to answer that question; hundreds (at least) have been written. Also, reef corals — which are the greatest concern here — aren’t directly affected by ocean chemistry in the smack middle of the Pacific, but by the littoral waters they live in. Knowing something about what’s happening in the depths of the Mariana trench and other abyssals is definitely relevant for modeling, but I don’t think strictly critical for empirical observation of what has happened in the past or what’s going on now local to the corals in question.

      A question you might want to ask yourself is why any supposed significant deviations have managed to dodge the sum total of our observations. Or pehaps this: what is your standard of reasonable coverage, and how much are you willing to pay to get it?

      2. Instruments that measure acidity in a lab aren’t sensitive enough to show the tiny trends supposedly being measured.

      Says who? How is it that we know anything about a given instrument’s accuracy and precision in the first place?

      Can ones deployed in the oceans do better?

      This guy thinks so: http://scholarlyrepository.miami.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1903&context=oa_dissertations

      See Chapter 2(p. 15). The gist is that shipboard analyses have suffered from non-standard protocols, researcher error, etc. — and that deployment of “semi-autonomous” devices might do better.

      Doesn’t the margin of error far exceed the supposed trend being measured?

      Trends are time senstive, so your question is missing a key component. If we were comparing last year’s global ocean pH to this year’s, you’d have a good point. If there was some sort of systemic bias over longer periods of time (a la UHI and surface station temperature records) you might also be onto something. Otherwise, measurement errors are expected to be off on the low side as much as the high side over time.

      • “I will say that if there is a way to maximize crop production to take advantage of rising CO2, you can bet big agra will find it. Whether they pull off that trick plus find a way to raise crop yields with less water … I’m gonna say not much of a chance.”

        Elevated CO2 prompts stomata constriction and concomitant reduced transpiration.

  81. pH increases with temperature. So pH is not only sensitive to absorbed CO2, but also the temp of water (the oceans.) We know that the arctic has been unusually warm for some time, hence its “purpleness”, according to the map.

  82. mebbe,

    Elevated CO2 prompts stomata constriction and concomitant reduced transpiration.

    Which implies an overall reduction in metabolism, does it not? This translates into increased crop yield how?

    • Brandon, it is proven that a lot of plants increase their growth with increased CO2. In ideal circumstances of temperature, water, fertilizers and minerals, crop yields increase in average 50% for a 100% increase of CO2, depending of the type of plant. Glasshouse owners pump 1000 ppmv and more CO2 in their glasshouses for that reason.

      Besides that, more CO2 makes that the plants reduce their number of stomata (which makes it a proxy for CO2 levels of the past), with as result that they loose less water vapor. That is an advantage for plants which grow in semi-deserts: all drier places on earth show more greening, including the Sahel:https://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/03/24/the-earths-biosphere-is-booming-data-suggests-that-co2-is-the-cause-part-2/
      There was a more recent article, but can’t find it now…

      • Ferdinand, ” … In ideal circumstances of temperature, water, fertilizers and minerals … ” is the key. Crop yield is a function of moisture and nutrients, and cannot be left out of the analysis. In short, “CO2 is plant food” is not a compelling argument because it’s one factor of many. Increased crop yields will require increased consumption of OTHER resources as well. Ain’t nuthin’ for free on this rock.

    • Plants typically evaporate much more water than they need to for the transport of nutrients. Evaporative surface area and atmospheric conditions mostly determine water loss from healthy plants.
      CO2 can’t make up for an absolute deficiency of soil moisture but it does mitigate the tendency of the plant to squander water.

      • Mebbe; sure, however additional growth does require water. Evaporative losses are not the only concern.

  83. “Since the industrial era began, average surface seawater pH in temperate oceans has fallen from 8.2 to 8.1 by 0.1 pH unit, equal to a 30 percent increase in acid concentration.”

    Check out “Acid Seas – Back To Basic”
    http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/originals/acid_seas.html

    Climate Change 2007: Working Group I: The Physical Science Basis, 5.4.2.3 Ocean Acidification by Carbon Dioxide.

    The statement is made:

    “The uptake of anthropogenic carbon by the ocean changes the chemical equilibrium of the ocean. Dissolved CO2 forms a weak acid. As CO2 increases, pH decreases, that is, the ocean becomes more acidic. Ocean pH can be computed from measurements of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and alkalinity.

    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 are actually four oceans, five counting the Southern ocean and all are different. There can be no single pH value for the world’s oceans, any more than there can be a single surface-air temperature for the globe. The range of pH can vary extensively as described here:

    Chris Jury, Center for Marine Science, Biology and Marine Biology, University of North Carolina,

    “On some reef flats pH values have been measured to vary from as low as 7.8 to as high as 8.4 in a single 24 hr period (Yates and Halley, 2006). In some lagoons, pH has been measured to vary as much as 1 pH unit in a day (e.g., 7.6 to 8.6). Seasonal and even multi-decadal cycles of pH variation in reef water have also been measured (Pelejero et al., 2005).”

    • The pH changes of reefs are mainly caused by river discharge in near-coastal places. These are not included in the above research. pH changes over time in different oceans are about the same everywhere, independent of seasonal and latitudinal influences.

      • Ferdinand Engelbeen November 13, 2014 at 2:02 am Edit

        The pH changes of reefs are mainly caused by river discharge in near-coastal places.

        I’m sorry, Ferdinand, but that is not true in the slightest. pH changes on a DAILY basis on many reefs. This is because during the day, coral reefs are a source of CO2, while at night they are a sink. This causes a daily swing which can be as large as 1 pH unit. In general it has nothing to do with rivers. Here’s a typical study.

        You go on to say:

        pH changes over time in different oceans are about the same everywhere, independent of seasonal and latitudinal influences.

        Also not true at all. pH is a local quantity that is affected by wind, temperature, currents, and most of all, life. The idea that the changes “are about the same everywhere” is easily falsified. Here are the changes off of the California coast …

        Note the size of the pH change predicted for the coming century in the upper right …

        Please point out to us the many other places where the changes in pH are “about the same” as that. While you are looking, here is an excellent study which says the exact opposite of your claims (emphasis mine)

        Here, we present a compilation of continuous, high-resolution time series of upper ocean pH, collected using autonomous sensors, over a variety of ecosystems ranging from polar to tropical, open-ocean to coastal, kelp forest to coral reef. These observations reveal a continuum of month-long pH variability with standard deviations from 0.004 to 0.277 and ranges spanning 0.024 to 1.430 pH units. The nature of the observed variability was also highly site-dependent, with characteristic diel, semi-diurnal, and stochastic patterns of varying amplitudes.

        So no … pH changes in different oceans are NOT “about the same everywhere” as you claim …

        w.

      • Hello Willis,

        You are right on point 1: although many reef systems are near coast or form lagoons themselves, it is biolife that makes the diurnal difference in pH…

        Point 2 is more difficult: ships measurements go over different parts of the oceans, which each may show large (seasonal) differences and differences caused by upwelling and temperature and biolife. But if one measures at fixed places, or repeatable at the same trajectory over longer periods, the local (seasonal) variability still is high, but there is a similar trend, see fig. 7 and table 2 in:
        http://www.tos.org/oceanography/archive/27-1_bates.pdf
        In all cases pH declines with increasing DIC (total inorganic carbon). If temperature or internal decrease of pH (undersea volcanoes) were the cause, pH would drop but DIC would drop too, as more CO2 is released due to an increased pCO2. If CO2 is pressured into the oceans from the atmosphere, the pH drops with increasing DIC, which is the case nowadays.

        Upwelling zones like the Monterey aquarium inlet are excluded from the above research because the pH is very variable due to changes in upwelling flux.

      • Thanks, Ferdinand. You say:

        Upwelling zones like the Monterey aquarium inlet are excluded from the above research because the pH is very variable due to changes in upwelling flux.

        So what you are saying is that once we exclude the places in the ocean where pH is “very variable”, then in the remainder of the ocean, pH changes are “about the same everywhere”?

        Dang … who knew?

        w.

      • Willis,

        Upwelling and downwelling zones from/to the deep oceans are each about 5% of the ocean surface. See:
        http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/education/kits/currents/03coastal4.html
        That is where the largest variability in all observations can be seen: pH, salinity, pCO2, temperature, biolife,…
        90% of the ocean surface still shows seasonal changes, but far more regular and all with a steady change in different parameters caused by the increased CO2 pressure in the atmosphere.

        Compare it to measuring CO2 levels in 5% of the atmosphere over land near huge sources and sinks with the CO2 measurements in 95% of the atmosphere at remote stations, ships and aircraft, including above a few hundred meters over land…

  84. Ferdinand,

    There are better resolution ice cores which cover the Holocene …

    True, but anticipating that someone would bring up Vostok 400 Kyr cores, I figured I’d see if I could make the point stick on lower resolution data. Speaking of …

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1C2T0pQeiaST3RiNEczdEVGdmc

    I added in several high resolution cores going back 22 Ka (Byrd, Siple) as well as Taylor (12 Ka). I threw in Law Dome (1000-1978 AD) for its overlap with the Mauna Loa instrumental record (1959-2014), which I also included. The Vostok data have been shifted forward so that the peak of each past interglacial matches the most recent one. You can see that the Holocene doesn’t look terribly unusual except for a small anomaly around year zero.

    By the by, the lowest resolution in the Vostok data I’m using (Petit 2001) is 5,996 years and the average is 1,487. The second graph of my image is centered on year 0 again, covering a span of 6,000 years. I’m not exactly sure, but that little bump in the center of the graph would probably show up in a layer of ice spanning 6 Kyrs, even if for some wild reason CO2 went up and back down over that interval.

  85. Willis,

    So what you are saying is that once we exclude the places in the ocean where pH is “very variable”, then in the remainder of the ocean, pH changes are “about the same everywhere”?

    What matters most is pH (as well as DIC and total alkalinity, plus nutrients, salinity, etc.) in locations where reef corals are living. There are no major coral reef systems in Monterey Bay last I checked.

    • Thanks, Brandon, but the pH over coral reefs changes both more and faster than the pH around Monterrey Bay. Nor are Monterrey Bay and coral reefs the only places that happens. See here for a study of the variability in a variety of ecosystems, and here for a study of just the reefs.

      Here’re the numbers. Over many coral reefs, the pH changes by as much as 1 pH unit EVERY DAY … and they are hyperventilating over a predicted pH change of 0.002 pH units per year … you’ll excuse me if I don’t join the hyperventilation.

      w.

  86. Willis,

    Thanks for the links, both are interesting and informative reading. The first one says:

    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. 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 […]

    From the second:

    Reef topography, especially residence time of lagoon water, affects the carbon budget of coral reefs to some extent. There is a relatively weak, but still recognizable positive relationship between the lagoon-offshore difference in pCO2 and residence time of reef water. Another important factor controlling carbon turnover in coral reefs is proximity to land: terrestrial carbon and nutrient inputs were recognized in most fringing and barrier types of reefs.

    Both papers discuss the importance of DIC, total alkalinity and nutrient availability in addition to pH and emphasize high degrees of uncertainty about their effects on calcification due to complexity of the interactions as well as the wide differences between various locales … some of which are in close proximity to each other.

    Takeaway: it’s wrong to hyperventilate about globally lower pH trends to the exclusion of all else — local environments must be evaluated individually, taking into account diurnal, monthly and seasonal “high frequency” fluctuations when defining “normal” for the organisms which live there. Only then does it make sense to discuss what might happen as any secular trends move the means and extremes one direction or another.

    It’s also important to note that while some species may lose, others might benefit, even to the point of mitigating some otherwise deleterious effects. From the first link again:

    Kelps may respond positively to increased availability of CO2 and HCO3−, which may allow for reduced metabolic costs and increased productivity [64]. Increased kelp production may elevate pH within the forest during periods of photosynthesis, causing wider daily fluctuations in pH, though this is speculative at this time.

    May, might, perhaps, etc. One thing is for sure: reducing the discussion down to soundbites that conflate local high frequency and amplitude trendless fluctuations with long term (perhaps tolerable, perhaps not) secular net global trends does not give these issues the consideration required for true understanding.

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