Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Bush Administration plan to reduce global warming could devastate sea life

18.11.2003


URI marine biologist says CO2 injection in deep sea would alter ocean chemistry, affect numerous creatures



A Bush Administration proposal to mitigate the effects of global warming by capturing carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and injecting it into the deep sea could have disastrous effects on sea life, according to a University of Rhode Island researcher.

Brad Seibel, assistant professor of marine biology at URI, said that while the Administration’s plan is still in the experimental stage, enough is already known about the biology of marine organisms to say with certainty that the plan will harm the marine environment in significant ways.


Increased CO2 in the oceans would result in decreases in the pH levels (the measure of acidity) of seawater, resulting in dramatic physiological effects on many species, Seibel said. Shallow-living organisms like shelled mollusks and corals are already being affected by the growing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. As atmospheric CO2 diffuses into the upper layers of the water, it inhibits the ability of shellfish to form shells and causes coral reefs to dissolve.

Deep-sea creatures are even more sensitive to environmental changes, he said. In some species, their metabolism would become suppressed and lead to retarded growth and reproduction, while others would be unable to transport oxygen in their blood.

"CO2 injection would be detrimental to a great many organisms," said the URI biologist. "It would kill everything that can’t swim fast enough to get out of the way, because in concentrated form it’s highly toxic, even to humans. But the Department of Energy seems willing to sacrifice the animals of the deep sea if it will stop global warming. That’s not entirely unreasonable considering that if we keep stalling on taking serious measures to reduce global warming, we won’t be able to do anything about it. But I’d still like to see that we’re doing everything else possible to reduce emissions before we begin polluting the deep-sea."

The government’s "carbon sequestration" plan is designed to collect carbon dioxide emissions that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere and store them in underground geologic formations or deep in the ocean. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham announced in September the creation of seven regional partnerships to establish the framework needed to develop the necessary technologies and put them into action. In addition, the Bush Administration convened a Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum last June where energy ministers from 13 countries discussed the potential for CO2 injections around the globe.

In the new book Climate Change and Biodiversity, published in August, Seibel and co-author Victoria Fabry wrote: "From the perspective of marine organisms, deep-ocean sequestration means concentrating an otherwise dilute toxin to well above lethal levels, and placing it in an environment where the organisms are less tolerant of environmental fluctuation in general and CO2 in particular…Localized devastation of biological communities at the injection sites is certain."

As seawater becomes acidified, growth rates of calcareous phytoplankton (those with calcium carbonate shells) will be reduced as a result of the effects of CO2 on the process of calcification. Metabolism in some animal species may also be depressed by increased acidity. Furthermore, some fish, squids, and shrimps will have a diminished capacity for oxygen uptake at the gill and transportation through their bloodstream, leading to asphyxiation.

Seibel said that there is typically a natural exchange of CO2 between the sea and the atmosphere, but increases of atmospheric CO2 are already affecting the equilibrium. Intentional injections of CO2 will further disrupt the ecosystem.

"The carbon dioxide-carbonate system is arguably the most important chemical equilibria in the ocean," Seibel and Fabry wrote. "It influences nearly every aspect of marine science, including ecology and, ultimately, the biodiversity of the oceans."

Brad Seibel, assistant professor of marine biology in the University of Rhode Island’s Department of Biological Sciences, joined the URI faculty in the summer of 2003 after having worked as a marine ecologist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in Monterey, Calif. for several years. He received undergraduate and doctorate degrees from the University of California, Santa Barbara. In addition to studying the impact of CO2 on deep-sea creatures, his research focuses on the physiology and adaptations of marine organisms, especially squid, living in extreme environments like the waters around Antarctica.

Todd McLeish | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uri.edu/

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Species may appear deceptively resilient to climate change
24.11.2017 | University of California - Davis

nachricht Scientists team up on study to save endangered African penguins
16.11.2017 | Florida Atlantic University

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New proton record: Researchers measure magnetic moment with greatest possible precision

High-precision measurement of the g-factor eleven times more precise than before / Results indicate a strong similarity between protons and antiprotons

The magnetic moment of an individual proton is inconceivably small, but can still be quantified. The basis for undertaking this measurement was laid over ten...

Im Focus: Frictional Heat Powers Hydrothermal Activity on Enceladus

Computer simulation shows how the icy moon heats water in a porous rock core

Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...

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...

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

IceCube experiment finds Earth can block high-energy particles from nuclear reactions

24.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 'half-hearted' solution to one-sided heart failure

24.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

Heidelberg Researchers Study Unique Underwater Stalactites

24.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>