Posted by: r.m. | November 13, 2008

climate change and our oceans

2 recent news articles of concern – both talking about the swimming snails..

– “RISING acid levels in the Southern Ocean will start destroying sea life within 30 years, three decades earlier than previously thought, Australian climate change researchers warned yesterday. Much of the carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere by human activity is absorbed by the oceans, causing the sea water to become more acidic. Scientists had previously predicted that when carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached 550 parts per million – compared with about 383 parts per million today – the oceans would become so acidic that the calcium in the shells of sea creatures would start dissolving. However, it was thought it would take 60 to 100 years for such a “tipping point” to be reached. But new findings by Ben McNeil, of the University of NSW, and the CSIRO’s Dr Richard Matear, suggest rising acidity may trigger “irreversible” destruction of shell creatures far sooner.”

pteropod_narrowweb__300x3750Swimming sea snails, also known as Pteropods,are the most vulnerable to ocean warming as their shells dissolve quickly in relatively low acid levels.

Douglas Fischer – editor of the dailyclimate.org – explains it more eloquently: “The most pressing example of climate change’s impact is not monster hurricanes, retreating glaciers or water wars. It’s the humble swimming sea snail. The tiny pteropod has difficulty growing a shell in a warmer planet’s acidified ocean waters. Given the snails’ role at the base of the cold-water food chain, its struggle threatens the entire polar ecosystem, through salmon to seals and whales.”

Wait. Pause. This bears repeating:

“Given the snails’ role at the base of the cold-water food chain, its struggle threatens the entire polar ecosystem, through salmon to seals and whales.”

Check out the original report – ‘Acid Test: Can We Save Our Oceans from CO2?.‘ (acidification_report) (html link) (attention EVSC 305 students: I want you all to read that report)


Responses

  1. […] Given the snails’ role at the base of the cold-water food chain, its struggle threatens the entire polar ecosystem, through salmon to seals and whales.” Wait. Pause. Original post […]

  2. Those articles are very intersting! The high level of carbon dioxide has effects all over the world even on those tiny creatures. While the first article emphasizes the fact tht acidity dissolves the shells of animals, the second one emphasizes how high temperature slows the calcifiction rate of the shells. Both acidity and high temperture are the results of high carbon dioxide level.

    I will look at it from a third pount of view. Acidity caused by high dioxide level not only cause the damage of calcified animals but also it affects negtively non calcified structures like the sperm and the egg. Acidity slows the movement of sperm and reduce fertilization.

    This will definetly affect not only the tiny sea snails but also a great number of species!!!

  3. I got the information about the effect of ocean acidity on fertilization from this article. Check it out for more details!
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080815.wacidity0815/BNStory/Science/home

  4. By the way… I got the information about the ocean acidity and fertilization of aquatic animals from this article… Check it out:

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080815.wacidity0815/BNStory/Science/home

  5. Wow! This goes to show that nothing is for free;there’s always a price to pay.The ocean has been buffering some of the excess CO2 but unfornately the price is high:“Given the snails’ role at the base of the cold-water food chain, its struggle threatens the entire polar ecosystem, through salmon to seals and whales.”

  6. 350, 450 or 550 ppm atmospheric carbon dioxide? We already know the consequences of each case scenario, and we are already talking about the “solutions” that may help the entire population from the climate change effects, but however, we are still not acting as we are supposed to. In the previous articles, scientists were talking about the effect of CO2 on the ocean, and how can the increase of CO2 affects the shells of sea animals. This will not only affect those creatures, but it will impact the whole oceanic food chain. But what are the solutions? How can we save sea animals?

  7. Absoluely nothing must be taken for granted in this world, indeed everything is “finely tuned”. Our actions have much more serious and devastating consequences than we would ever imagine, due to the cascade-type events that might follow and our incomplete scientific knowledge.


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