Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Fishdunnit! Mystery Solved

19.01.2009
Fish Physiology, Marine Chemistry, Oceanography and Modeling Experts Join Forces to Unlock CO2 Conundrum

An international team of scientists has solved a mystery that has puzzled marine chemists for decades. They have discovered that fish contribute a significant fraction of the oceans’ calcium carbonate production, which affects the delicate pH balance of seawater. The study gives a conservative estimate of three to 15 percent of marine calcium carbonate being produced by fish, but the researchers believe it could be up to three times higher.

Published January 16th in Science, their findings highlight how little is known about some aspects of the marine carbon cycle, which is undergoing rapid change as a result of global CO2 emissions.

Until now, scientists believed that the oceans’ calcium carbonate, which dissolves in deep waters making seawater more alkaline, came from marine plankton. The recent findings published in Science explain how up to 15 percent of these carbonates are, in fact, excreted by fish that continuously drink calcium-rich seawater. The ocean becomes more alkaline at much shallower depths than prior knowledge of carbonate chemistry would suggest which has puzzled oceanographers for decades. The new findings of fish-produced calcium carbonate provides an explanation: fish produce more soluble forms of calcium carbonate, which probably dissolve more rapidly, before they sink into the deep ocean.

Corresponding authors Drs. Frank Millero and Martin Grosell at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and Dr. Rod Wilson of the University of Exeter note that given current concerns about the acidification of our seas through global CO2 emissions, it is more important than ever that we understand how the pH balance of the sea is maintained. Although we know that fish carbonates differ considerably in their chemical make-up, the team has really only just scratched the surface regarding their chemical nature and ultimate fate in the ocean. Scientists clearly need to investigate this further to understand what this means for the future health of the world’s oceans.

Millero, Grosell and Wilson, who was the recipient of the University of Miami’s prestigious 2005 Rosenstiel Award, along with Rosenstiel School Marine Biology and Fisheries graduate student Josi Taylor collaborated with other British and Canadian scientists to reach the conclusion published in the current issue of Science.

The researchers suggest that fish carbonates dissolve much faster than those produced by plankton, and at depths of less than 1,000 m. Less soluble carbonates, produced by plankton, are more likely to sink further and become locked up in sediments and rocks for tens or hundreds of millions of years before being released. Fish carbonates, on the other hand, are likely to form part of the ‘fast’ carbonate system by more rapidly dissolving into seawater.

“As a marine chemist who has been studying the global carbon cycle and its impacts on the pH of the water and marine ecosystems for 40+ years, these results offer an important piece of the equation,” said Millero, professor of Marine and Atmospheric Chemistry at the Rosenstiel School. “By working with scientists in several disciplines we were able to come at this from different perspectives and combine data sets that hadn’t been previously used together, to solve this problem. We can now employ the knowledge gained from this study to examine how ocean acidification due to the adsorption of CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels affects the ocean carbon system.”

The combination of future increases in sea temperature and rising CO2 will cause fish to produce even more calcium carbonate, which is in sharp contrast to the response by most other calcium carbonate producing organisms. Fish’s metabolic rates are known to increase in warmer waters, and this study explains how this will also accelerate the rate of carbonate excretion. In addition, our existing knowledge of fish biology shows that blood CO2 levels rise as CO2 increases in seawater and that this in turn will further stimulate fish calcium carbonate production.

“Depletion of fish stocks due to overfishing will obviously influence global calcium carbonate production attributable to fish, but the prediction of the impact of overexploitation is complex. Smaller fish which often result from exploitation produce more calcium carbonate for the same unit of biomass than bigger fish, a simple consequence of higher mass-specific metabolic rates in the smaller animals. In addition, the chemical nature of the calcium carbonate produced by fish, which determines solubility, almost certainly will depend on temperature, fish species, ambient pH and CO2 levels among other factors. The influence of such factors on this newly recognized and significant contribution to oceanic carbon cycling offers an exciting challenge for further study” said Grosell, associate professor of Marine Biology and Fisheries at the Rosenstiel School.

This study was carried out by the University of Exeter (UK), University of Miami (USA), University of Ottawa (Canada), University of British Columbia (Canada), Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (UK) and University of East Anglia (UK). The research was supported by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Natural Science Foundation.

Barbra Gonzalez | RSMAS MIAMI
Further information:
http://www.rsmas.miami.edu
http://www.umiami.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change
17.11.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Win-win strategies for climate and food security
02.10.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Corporate coworking as a driver of innovation

22.11.2017 | Business and Finance

PPPL scientists deliver new high-resolution diagnostic to national laser facility

22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Quantum optics allows us to abandon expensive lasers in spectroscopy

22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>