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Gaining a long-term view of ocean acidification

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Geplaatst op 31 juli 2009 - 15:21

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In a recent interview with Yale Environment 360, Jane Lubchenco, the head of NOAA, called oceanic acidification global warming’s “equally evil twin.” Ocean acidification occurs because carbon dioxide, when dissolved in water, forms a weak acid. Put more CO2 into the atmosphere, and more will inevitably dissolve into the oceans, lowering their pH. A landmark report published in 2005 by the British Royal Society urged the global community to invest more time and effort into studying this critical issue, warning that “Marine ecosystems are likely to become less robust as a result of the changes to the ocean chemistry and these will be more vulnerable to other environmental impacts.”

While research efforts have since taken off, what has been sorely lacking are datasets that could help scientists document the long-term rate of acidification and understand the underlying physical and chemical processes. That is, until now. In the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, John E. Dore of Montana State University and colleagues from the University of Hawaii, Honolulu, present the results of the first set of longitudinal time-series measurements of seawater pH, spanning an almost twenty-year period (from 1988 to 2007). The data were recorded at ALOHA, a research station off Hawaii.

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