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 A new indicator for marine ecosystem changes: the diatom/dinoflagellate index
21.08.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde

nachricht Value from wastewater
16.08.2017 | Hochschule Landshut

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: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers devise microreactor to study formation of methane hydrate

23.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

ShAPEing the future of magnesium car parts

23.08.2017 | Automotive Engineering

New insights into the world of trypanosomes

23.08.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>