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Earth Science

Antarctic Marine Wildlife Is Under Threat From Ocean Acidification, Study Finds 180

Posted by samzenpus
from the water-to-vinegar dept.
A study has found that a decreased pH level in the antarctic is damaging the shells of native wildlife. "Marine snails in seas around Antarctica are being affected by ocean acidification, scientists have found. An international team of researchers found that the snails' shells are being corroded. Experts says the findings are significant for predicting the future impact of ocean acidification on marine life. The results of the study are published in the journal Nature Geoscience (abstract). The marine snails, called "pteropods", are an important link in the oceanic food chain as well as a good indicator of ecosystem health. 'They are a major grazer of phytoplankton and... a key prey item of a number of higher predators - larger plankton, fish, seabirds, whales,' said Dr Geraint Tarling, Head of Ocean Ecosystems at the British Antarctic Survey and co-author of the report."
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Antarctic Marine Wildlife Is Under Threat From Ocean Acidification, Study Finds

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  • by lucm (889690) on Sunday November 25, 2012 @06:01PM (#42089321)

    The lower the pH gets, the better chlorine will work. Being closer than ever to pool-quality water in the ocean, the Antarctic people should spin this and enjoy a boom in tourism! I bet they can't wait to see more people that those bearded scientists who don't spend a dime on penguin art.

  • chem 101 (Score:5, Informative)

    by Tastecicles (1153671) on Sunday November 25, 2012 @06:22PM (#42089419)

    CO2(aq) + H2O(l) H+(aq) + HCO3–(aq) [distilled water reaction]

    2NaOH(aq) + CO2(g) Na2CO3(aq) + H2O(l) [sodium hydroxide reaction]

    Explanatory:
    Carbon dioxide reacts with water at standard temperature and pressure to form a weak acid and hydrogen ions (both in solution), adjusting pH *at saturation* from about 7.6-6.0. That it is known yet underreported that the world's oceans are the carbon sink to beat all others, puts lie to the CO2 problem and a simple classroom experiment with distilled water, a straw, sodium hydroxide solution and phenol indicator proves this.

    Incidentally, for the carbon sink to fail would require the oceans to be heated to just below boiling. Not likely to happen yet for around 5 billion years.

    • For clarity, the formulas should read something like:

      CO2(aq) + H2O(l) H+(aq) + HCO3–(aq) [distilled water reaction]

      2NaOH(aq) + CO2(g) -> Na2CO3(aq) + H2O(l) [sodium hydroxide reaction]

    • Re:chem 101 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by spinninggears (551247) on Sunday November 25, 2012 @06:29PM (#42089459)

      I don't the issue is how much carbon the oceans can sink. (Your giant test tube). I think the issue is whether ocean life can survive it. Besides Chem 101, there is also Biology 101.

    • Chem 102 (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 25, 2012 @07:16PM (#42089653)

      Too bad you apparently stopped at chem 101. In Chem 102 one might learn that reactions are not instantaneous.

      Have you ever tried to dissolve atmospheric carbon dioxide in water? If so, you will note that the rate of dissolution is not very high.

      As a result, though the ocean is fully capable of dissolving the CO2 produced by burning of fossil fuels, it will do so very slowly -- over a multiple-century timescale. (And it will disrupt marine ecosystems in doing so.) Incidentally, this process is already incorporated into all climate models.

      To make the CO2 dissolve faster, you could use a stirring system to incorporate gas into the bulk liquid and to distribute the bicarbonate evenly. Good luck finding one big enough to stir the ocean.

      Alternatively, you could use a strong base, like hydroxide, to deprotonate bicarbonate and drive the process to completion. Unfortunately, strong bases are not available as raw materials. Their production results in the release of large amounts of acidic chemicals like chlorine, which must be disposed of or else they will acidify the ocean and cancel out the effect of all the hydroxide.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Incidentally, for the carbon sink to fail would require the oceans to be heated to just below boiling. Not likely to happen yet for around 5 billion years.

      Chemistry 101, please say hello to Mathematics 201. All these reactions rates depend on concentrations. So say hello to differential equations. The rates depend on concentrations. Oceans were always a sink and volcanoes the emitters. But if you 100x the emission rate, your steady state solution may not be what you think it is.

      Finally, there is Biology 101. Shells have been used by ALL forms of aquatic life at the bottom of the food chain since shortly after the formation of multicellular life 500 million ye

      • Finally, there is Biology 101. Shells have been used by ALL forms of aquatic life at the bottom of the food chain since shortly after the formation of multicellular life 500 million years ago. Changing such a basic ocean chemistry can have catastrophic changes for the entire biosphere. It is not when you kill off all the whales or tuna that we fuck ourselves over. It is when we manage to affect the micro cellular life, the phytoplankton, the bugs, that the real change begins

        Oh quit being such a conservative panty waist. Nature by itself is too friggin boring - changes over millions of years? Where's the fun in that? We humans need instant gratification. We need to reboot the food change so things happen faster.

        Otherwise, we won't be able to insert as many commercials. That would be a problem.

      • He is a pseudo skeptic who has come up with a simplistic claim and he'll ride it all the way. I do love how deniers claim natural systems are too complex to model, until of course they need to bolster their own claim, and then suddenly Chem 101 is all one needs to model atmospheric-oceanic reactions.

      • by sl4shd0rk (755837)

        Chemistry 101, please say hello to Mathematics 201.

        All this knowledge and we still burn through fossil fuels like a crack whore in a meth lab.
        Climate change is an Anthropogenic addiction.

    • by haruchai (17472)

      It's only under-reported if you frequent just the denialist sites. It has been stated for decades by researchers what are the main sources and sinks of CO2 and how much.

      Please don't forget that the oceans are not pure water; you'd have to be sure that the other substances won't have an impact one way or the other.

      That's not a simple problem.

    • "Not likely to happen yet for around 5 billion years."

      See, it's just this sort of short term thinking that gets us into trouble.

    • You really think the Earth is that simple?
  • erosion of coral (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lkcl (517947) <lkcl@lkcl.net> on Sunday November 25, 2012 @06:30PM (#42089465) Homepage

    a friend of mine just started at portsmouth university, studying marine biology, and we happened to talk about this subject. the situation's actually much worse than being reported here, because the coral reefs are *also* being corroded. given that coral reefs are where the majority of the ocean's life-forms congregate, if that eco-system collapses we're in real serious trouble. i say trouble: the planet's likely to survive, and to re-generate life over the next hundred millenia or so. it's just that humans really won't be around to enjoy being here, that's all.

  • by WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) on Sunday November 25, 2012 @08:46PM (#42090021)

    This is just one of the realistic doomsday scenarios that people need to take seriously- the collapse of food chain in the oceans.

    Remember, it doesn't have to be that oceans are completely and totally dead for people to start acting as if they are. It's enough that they no longer provide food or jobs for a lot of people, especially in developing nations. When the oceans are seen to be moving inevitably and inexorably to that condition , then it's as good as real, just like a stock that people understand is going to zero is as good as worthless even when it's price is still positive.

    If the really small things that support the fisheries- thing like phytoplankton which support the zooplankton which in turn support start to fail it takes with it the krill, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, tuna then upwards to the fish we eat -and we'll know if it starts to happen- then there will be price-panic food buying with the result that right then, tens of millions start to starve and economies start to collapse.

    It doesn't have to be in full effect for the full societal reaction to get going, it just has to be *seen* as going into full effect. That's when the chaos, the insane inflation of food, the rioting, the wars and uncontrollable immigration and nation destabilizing kicks in. That's when the civil wars break out and the uber-terrorism- uniting the entire 3rd and 2nd worlds in a death-lust for the West kicks in.

    Do you like your life? Do you like sitting down at your computer and surfing and learning and enjoying life? Would you like to continue in the same vein? Would you like things to generally keep going progressing slowly forward? Would you like your culture and civilization to continue? Are you *conservative* in that large sense of the word? Because right now the "conservatives" in America are the most reactionary, radical literally suicidal and culture-cidal group of cretins ever created.

    Perhaps the real conservatives can step forward at this time. The guys who were in the Rod and Gun clubs, the sportsmen who were conservationists, like the WWII vets who started the ski resorts in the Rockies, maybe the people *like that* would like to step forward and reclaim their party and protect the earth from the coke snorter conservatives, the narcissist conservatives, the Aspberger conservatives for whom politics comes down to single issues like taxes or Obamacare or abortion. I'm talking about The Glenn Becks the Sara Palins the Grover Norquists the Ralph Reeds the fucking Christian Right and their one-Jesus-fixes-all-problems fucking form of goddamned mental retardation. I can't even think of one person that fits description of a real conservative in the whole motherfucking Republican Party. Oh, wait. John Huntsmen. OK. One. One motherfucker in the entire fucking party.

    The deniers war against reality and taking immediate dramatic action while it still has the chance of being effective and economically viable isn't LIKE WWIII, it IS WWIII. It IS the reason that the next wave of tens of millions of people are going die and worse, it's a foreseable, preventable well-predicted event.

    It's go time, Mr. President. It's waaaayyy past time to stop trying to diddle Congress's clit just right on this topic. It's time for the Executive to unilaterally declare global warming to be an urgent matter of national security and Executive Action to initiated unilaterally towards alternative fuels, towards conservation, towards binding treaties and against those voices in our society who have declared themselves to be terrorists determined to set off the global warming bomb and kill billions. There is nothing more to talk about , it's time for action- Executive Action. It's time to silence, disable, undermine, discredit, and dismantle those individuals and organizations who are sewing the seeds of doubt. Their careers need to be ended as ignominiously as possible and failing that their voices need to be silenced as discretely as possible. This is war. This is what war is. This is wha

    • When the oceans are seen to be moving inevitably and inexorably to that condition , then it's as good as real, just like a stock that people understand is going to zero is as good as worthless even when it's price is still positive.

      Even stocks don't work exactly at this way. The idea that a speculative attack on food will make any bit of difference is insane.

      (I'm not saying that generalized exticntions at the oceans wouldn't be a bad thing. It would. It'd be very bad. But you need to review your model, that

    • We're civilization- either you're with us, or you're against us.

      My network of neural networks (machine intelligence) only had this to say when it scanned your post: false dichotomy

      (un)Ironcially, that is actually the problem you should be fighting...

    • > This is war. This is what war is. This is wha

      Oh no! They got him!

  • What if this is how the earth works? PH levels rise, and the ice caps start melting to balance crap out? What do we really know? The earth has been here for billions of years, and we have knowledge of it's weather and stuff for maybe 100 years?

    That like taking 100 days of my life and basing my whole health history on how i was during that time.

    • by tbannist (230135)

      That like taking 100 days of my life and basing my whole health history on how i was during that time.

      Hmm. I just see the paramedics now:

      P1: This guy appears to be wounded.
      P2: Are you sure, maybe he's supposed to be gushing blood. Maybe he's always gushed blood from that gaping chest wound.
      P1: Are you serious?
      P2: I think we should locate his childhood friends and ask them if this is a pre-existing condition.
      P1: He's going to bleed to death at this rate.
      P2: You don't know that, this could be his natural state.

      By the way, a lot of time and effort goes into trying to figure out what the climate did in the di

    • Let's assume you're entirely right. I'd say the correct response would be to artificially alter the climate to maintain something like the status quo which is highly favorable to us and the animals that currently exist. What do you think about that?

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      What do we really know? The earth has been here for billions of years, and we have knowledge of it's weather and stuff for maybe 100 years?

      We have direct temperature readings for a hundred or so years, but we also have methods of determining temperature for geologic time scales, such as ice cores.

Practical people would be more practical if they would take a little more time for dreaming. -- J. P. McEvoy

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