Fire Earth

Mass die-offs from human impact and planetary response to the assault could occur by early 2016

Posts Tagged ‘marine species’

Terrible Ocean Headlines

Posted by feww on August 17, 2008

Even the average high school grad could have made an educated guess …

About one third of the world’s annual emissions of CO2 is absorbed by the surface of the oceans forming carbonic acid (ancient name acid of air or aerial acid), H2CO3, which is increasing the acidity of the oceans to as much as 7.7 pH in some areas off the California coast. [Pre-industrial (1700s) ocean pH: 8.179]


Ocean Acidity Kills Corals. Photo Credit: Associated Press. Image may be subject to copyright!

“We were completely surprised because people had been looking at the effect of acidification on calcified structures of marine animals, but there was no evidence to suggest it was affecting non-calcified structures, like a sperm or an egg,” lead-scientist Jane Williamson from Macquarie University told Reuters on Friday.

“It is widely believed that seawater is chemically well-buffered, but these results show that the acidification process already well underway may threaten the viability of many marine species,” Williamson said.


The sea urchins study found a link between increased ocean acidity and a reduction in fertility (Credit: ABC News). Image may be subject to copyright!

“What we have now is evidence that the world’s marine life is far more sensitive to ocean acidification than first suspected, and that means our oceans may be very different places in the not-too-distant future.”

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Up to 410 dead zones with a combined area of about 250,000km² and counting!


Summertime satellite observations of ocean color from MODIS/Aqua show highly turbid waters which may include large blooms of phytoplankton extending from the mouth of the Mississippi River all the way to the Texas coast. When these blooms die and sink to the bottom, bacterial decomposition strips oxygen from the surrounding water, creating an environment very difficult for marine life to survive in. Reds and oranges represent high concentrations of phytoplankton and river sediment. Image taken by NASA and provided courtesy of the NASA Mississippi Dead Zone web site.

No of Dead Zones

  • 1970: 40 dead zones
  • 1980: 65
  • 1990: 135
  • 2000: 305
  • 2008: 410 dead zones with a combined area of about 250,000km²

“The biggest one measures about 30,000 square miles in the Baltic Sea, the researchers said. This is followed in size by one in the Gulf of Mexico starting at the mouth of the Mississippi River in the United States and one at the mouth of China’s Yangtze River in the East China Sea.” Reuters reported.

“It’s not sort of a local or regional problem, which is how it was thought of in the past,” said Robert Diaz of the College of William and Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science. “It is actually a global problem.”

“Most of it is agricultural-based, but there is a lot of industrial nitrogen in there, too, if you consider electric generation industrial,” added Diaz.

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