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Oceans play an important role in the planet’s delicate carbon cycle, acting as a crucial reservoir that absorbs and stores carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
But the new research finds that although oceans can withstand some natural variations in climate, global warming may be adding to the stress on those ecosystems and overwhelming their ability to cope.
The Study: The study led by Emily Osborne, a researcher with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s ocean acidification program began by collecting samples of sediment from the Santa Barbara Basin off the coast of Southern California in 2013.
As the Oregonian explained, because the basin has little oxygen and a dearth of plants and animals, the ocean floor has remained relatively undisturbed. The sediment cores she pulled from the basin contained the shells of foraminifera, a single-celled plankton, dating back to 1895.
After weighing and photographing each specimen, Osborne was able to use the thickness of the shells to establish a 100-year record of pH levels in the waters of the California Current, which runs along the West Coast.
She found that, since 1895, shell thickness had decreased by 20 percent due to increased ocean acidification.
Why This Matters: The study suggests that climate change is likely intensifying chemical changes in the ocean that could threaten the seafood industry, especially shellfish farmers. This is troubling news for west coast oyster farmers as climate change is threatening oysters’ ability to form calcium-based shells as well as the range of their habitat. And since California has some of the nation’s most economically-valuable fisheries, this could equate into a serious economic hit.
By Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor Research has found that smoke and ash from Australia’s massive 2019 and 2020 wildfires triggered widespread algal blooms thousands of miles away. The Duke University-led study reported that the phenomenon could be effective in sequestering additional carbon, but algal blooms can also be toxic and devastating to wildlife and […]
You may remember our special Earth Day interview with Friend of the Planet, Brian Skerry. Well, he’s in the news again, but this time for working on the Emmy Award-winning documentary, Secrets of the Whales. The four-part series explores the complex lives of five whale species, including orcas, humpbacks, belugas, narwhals, and sperm whales. […]
By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer A motion rejecting deep-sea mining was largely supported by delegates at the IUCN World Conservation Congress, currently meeting in Marseille, France. The motion calls for a moratorium on extracting minerals from deep below the ocean surface, as well as reforms for the International Seabed Authority, which is responsible for […]
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