> NOAA's Fisheries Service >> Ocean Acidification home page ###"> NOAA, NSF commission national study of ocean acidification - WaterWorld

NOAA, NSF commission national study of ocean acidification

Sponsored by

Oct. 21, 2008 -- The first comprehensive national study of how carbon dioxide emissions absorbed into the oceans may be altering fisheries, marine mammals, coral reefs, and other natural resources has been commissioned by NOAA and the National Science Foundation.

"Carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels is not only contributing to atmospheric climate change," said Dr. Steven A. Murawski, director of scientific programs and chief science advisor for NOAA's Fisheries Service. "These emissions are being absorbed into the oceans with potentially catastrophic effects on life in our oceans. Some of the most vulnerable species -- clams, crabs, lobsters, mussels, shrimp, and scallops -are also some of the most important economically to the United States, representing half of the $4 billion annual value of all fish harvested in U.S. waters."

The need for this national study, to be conducted by the National Academy of Sciences, was outlined by Congress in the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act in 2007.

Since the beginning of the industrial era, the oceans have absorbed about a third of all manmade carbon dioxide emissions released into the air. The ability of the oceans to absorb carbon dioxide emissions has reduced some of the harmful effects of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and on land. But scientists are finding that the continued, increased absorption of these gases is altering the biology and chemistry of oceans in fundamental ways.

Absorption of large amounts of carbon dioxide alters the chemistry of the oceans by reducing the pH of seawater. With increasing carbon dioxide in seawater, shellfish and corals cannot absorb enough calcium carbonate to build strong skeletons and shells. The greater acidity slows the growth and even dissolves ocean plant and animal shells. The decline of these valuable species would drastically harm U.S. fisheries.

Any decline of these species would also have profound effects on entire ecosystems where shellfish and crustaceans provide food for many other species and coral provides habitat for fish. The effects of ocean acidification will potentially extend to coral reefs, marine plankton, other animals and plants.

The National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences is putting together a panel of 10 to 12 scientists to undertake the 18-month study. The committee will be made up of scientists with expertise in chemical oceanography, paleooceanography, biological oceanography, physiology, marine ecology, resource economics, geochemistry, resource management, and ocean-climate modeling.

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources. Visit http://www.noaa.gov.

>> NOAA's Fisheries Service
>> Ocean Acidification home page

###

Sponsored by

TODAY'S HEADLINES

City of Lima, Ohio, enters CWA settlement to reduce critical sewage overflows

To resolve claims that untreated sewer discharges were released into the Ottawa River during wet weather, the city of Lima, Ohio, has entered into a Clean Water Act settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Justice and State of Ohio.

AWWA to Congress: Nutrient pollution reduction key to preventing cyanotoxins

In a testimony recently held before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy, American Water Works Association President John Donahue stressed that the solution to keeping drinking water safe from cyanotoxins begins with reducing nutrient pollution.

Reclamation invests $9.2M in water, power research in West amid drought

Following a year of record drought, water managers throughout the West are searching for information and ideas to ensure a reliable and sustainable water supply. To meet this growing need, the Bureau of Reclamation has officially awarded $9.2 million for 131 research projects.

City of Philadelphia names first 'Stormwater Pioneer'

The Philadelphia Water Department has named Stanley's True Value Hardware as the city's first Stormwater Pioneer. The store's third-generation owners were recognized as role models for small business owners and private developers looking to reduce stormwater runoff.

FOLLOW US ON SOCIAL MEDIA