Category Archives: Ocean Acidification

Great Barrier Reef corals can withstand pH variations

McCulloch M.T. et al. (2018) Boron Isotopic Systematics in Scleractinian Corals and the Role of pH Up-regulation. In: Marschall H., Foster G. (eds) Boron Isotopes. Advances in Isotope Geochemistry. Springer, Cham  https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-64666-4_6

The boron isotopic composition (δ11B) of scleractinian corals has been used to track changes in seawater pH and more recently as a probe into the processes controlling bio-calcification. For corals that precipitate aragonite skeletons, up-regulation of pH appears to be a general characteristic, typically being ~0.3 to ~0.6 pH units higher than ambient seawater. The relationship between the pH of the corals calcifying-fluid (pHcf) and seawater pHT (total scale) is shown to be dependent on both physiological as well environmental factors. In laboratory experiments conducted on symbiont-bearing (zooxanthellate) corals under conditions of constant temperature and seawater pH, changes in the δ11B derived calcifying fluid pHcf is typically 1/3 to 1/2 of that of ambient seawater. Similar linear relationships are found for cold water corals that live in relatively stable, cold, deep-water environments but at significantly elevated levels of pHcf(~0.5–1 pH units above seawater), a likely response to the lower pH of their deep-sea environments. In contrast, zooxanthellae-bearing corals living in shallow-water reef environments that experience significant natural variations in temperature, light, nutrients and seawater pH, show different types of responses. For example, over seasonal time-scales Poritescorals from the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) have a large range in pHcf of ~8.3 to ~8.5, significantly greater (~×2 to ~×3) than that of reef-water (pHT ~8.01 to ~8.08), and an order of magnitude greater than that expected from ‘static’ laboratory experiments. Strong physiological controls, but of a different character, are found in corals grown in a Free Ocean Carbon Enrichment Experiment (FOCE) conducted in situ within the Heron Island lagoon (GBR). These corals exhibit near constant pHcf values regardless of external changes in temperature and seawater pH. This pattern of strong physiologically controlled ‘pHhomeostasis’, with elevated but constant pHcf has been found despite large natural seasonal variations in the pH (±0.15 pH units) of the lagoon waters, as well as the even larger super-imposed decreases in seawater pH (~0.25 pH units) designed to simulate year 2100 conditions. In natural reef environments we thus find that the processes influencing the up-regulation of pHcf in symbiont-bearing corals are subject to strong physiological controls, behaviour that is not well simulated in the current generation of aquaria-based experiments with fixed seawater pH and temperature. Conversely, cold-water corals that lack symbionts and inhabit the relatively stable deep-sea environments hold the best prospects for providing reliable reconstructions of seawater pH. Clearly, further studies utilising the δ11B-pHcfproxy combined with other DIC/carbonate-ion proxies (e.g. B/Ca), but conducted under realistic ‘natural’ conditions, are required to elucidate the processes controlling coral bio-calcification and to better understand the vulnerability of scleractinian corals to anthropogenic driven warming and ocean acidification.

No direct effects of ocean acidification observed in Arctic specie

Peter Thor, Fanny Vermandele, Marie-Helene Carignan, Sarah Jacque, Piero Calosi.  No maternal or direct effects of ocean acidification on egg hatching in the Arctic copepod Calanus glacialis PLOS ONE 13(2): e0192496. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0192496

Widespread ocean acidification (OA) is transforming the chemistry of the global ocean and the Arctic is recognised as the region where this transformation will occur at the fastest rate. Moreover, many Arctic species are considered less capable of tolerating OA due to their lower capacity for acid-base regulation. This inability may put severe restraints on many fundamental functions, such as growth and reproductive investments, which ultimately may result in reduced fitness. However, maternal effects may alleviate severe effects on the offspring rendering them more tolerant to OA. In a highly replicated experiment we studied maternal and direct effects of OA predicted for the Arctic shelf seas on egg hatching time and success in the keystone copepod species Calanus glacialis. We incubated females at present day conditions (pHT 8.0) and year 2100 extreme conditions (pHT 7.5) during oogenesis and subsequently reciprocally transplanted laid eggs between these two conditions. Statistical tests showed no effects of maternal or direct exposure to OA at this level. We hypothesise that Cglacialis may be physiologically adapted to egg production at low pH since oogenesis can also take place at conditions of potentially low haemolymph pH of the mother during hibernation in the deep.

Evidence lacking for ocean acidification by carbon dioxide

Paul McElhany. CO2 sensitivity experiments are not sufficient to show an effect of ocean acidification. ICES Journal of Marine Science, Volume 74, Issue 4, 1 May 2017, Pages 926–928,https://doi.org/10.1093/icesjms/fsw085

“The ocean acidification (OA) literature is replete with laboratory studies that report species sensitivity to seawater carbonate chemistry in experimental treatments as an “effect of OA”. I argue that this is unintentionally misleading, since these studies do not actually demonstrate an effect of OA but rather show sensitivity to CO2. Documenting an effect of OA involves showing a change in a species (e.g. population abundance or distribution) as a consequence of anthropogenic changes in marine carbonate chemistry. To date, there have been no unambiguous demonstrations of a population level effect of anthropogenic OA, as that term is defined by the IPCC.”

Open peer-review (releasing data) is necessary to avoid science fraud

“In the introductory video, Dr. Willie Soon reviews the “Award Winning Science” of Dr. Jane Lubchenco. It should become evidently clear why the NYT and other Liberal Organizations are upset with the EPA no longer accepting research based on “Secret Data.” This Ocean Acidification Research could easily be reproduced in a lab to expose this fraud, and Congress should investigate. Trillions of public dollars are being wasted on junk science being supported only by “secret data.” “ click here

Natural Ocean Acidification Good for Fish

“The real story here is that past scares claiming that ocean acidification would create reckless fish were most likely an artefact of an inadequate experiment. There are big swings of CO2 and pH in shallow water environments, and the normal day-night cycle turns out to be good for fish. Putting them in a laboratory tank without these daily changes may create fish that behave badly. So ocean acidification is not only natural, but a good and necessary thing.” click here

Ocean Acidification has little to no harm on ocean-dwelling organisms

“Scientists continue to construct experiments testing the effects of highly elevated CO2 (usually with volumes several times modern levels) on sea-living creatures. They routinely find that higher CO2 levels (and higher sea temperatures) have little to no effect on growth rates or survival for the species tested. In fact, it has been found in some cases that elevated CO2 benefits ocean-dwelling organisms, meaning that they thrive and prosper in these conditions. Obviously, these scientific studies wholly undermine the paradigm that envisions the long-term survival of the oceanic biosphere is jeopardized by rising anthropogenic CO2 emissions.” click here

Ocean Calamities Oversold

Alarming claims and the push for legislation/regulation and government funding go hand-in-hand.

Carlos M. Duarte, Robinson W. Fulweiler, Catherine E. Lovelock, Paulina Martinetto, Megan I. Saunders, John M. Pandolfi, Stefan Gelcich, Scott W. Nixon. Reconsidering Ocean Calamities BioScience (2014) doi: 10.1093/biosci/biu198

The proliferation of a number of pressures affecting the ocean is leading to a growing concern that the state of the ocean is compromised, which is driving society into pessimism. Ocean calamities are disruptive changes to ocean ecosystems that have profound impacts and that are widespread or global in scope. However, scrutiny of ocean calamities to ensure that they can be confidently attributed to human drivers, operate at widespread or global scales, and cause severe disruptions of marine social-ecosystems shows that some of the problems fail to meet these requirements or that the evidence is equivocal. A number of biases internal and external to the scientific community contribute to perpetuating the perception of ocean calamities in the absence of robust evidence. An organized auditing of ocean calamities may deliver a more precise diagnosis of the status of the oceans, which may help to identify the most pressing problems that need be addressed to conserve a healthy ocean.

Click here for paper (Open Access).