This will be caused by the continued release and accumulation of CO2 in the air: one third of it will be absorbed by the ocean water, thereby making it more acid. Scientists of the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) report in Geophysical Research Letters, together with a French colleague, on the potentially major consequences for aquaculture and coastal nature.
Following the acid rain issue, we now have to solve a new acid environmental problem: the oceans are turning sourer. Because of the growing anthropogenic emission of CO2, more of that greenhouse gas is going into the ocean. This carbonic acid gas is acidifying the surface water. The past two centuries of industrialisation showed a decrease of 0.1 unit of pH .The average acidity of the ocean level is presently just above 8. The sea absorbs 25 million tons of CO2 each day. If this continues at the same rate, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts a further decline of up to 0.35 by the end of the century. In such water the balance is tipping: calcification gets slower. Sea life that needs calcium carbonate for its shell (like mussels) or skeleton (like corals) are hindered. And at higher CO2 concentrations the mussel shell even dissolves, discovered NIOO biologist Frédéric Gazeau.
To test the effects of a high-CO2 world on shellfish, Gazeau and his colleagues from NIOO and France (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique / Université Pierre et Marie Curie) built a small sea in the lab. Exposure of the edible mussels (Mytilus edulis) and Pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas) to more acid conditions for a few hours resulted in immediate diminishing of shell calcification. These animals calcify to strengthen their shells and thereby their suit of armour. For those interested in the details: the additional CO2 causes a decrease of the degree of acidity (making the water more acid) and of the carbonate (CO32-) concentration in the water, and this impedes the deposition of calcium carbonate. ‘The mussels proved to be a lot more sensitive to rising CO2 levels than the oysters.’ The oysters are using another crystalline form of calcium carbonate for their shells.
In 2002 people around the world produced 11.7 million tons of shellfish, representing a value of 10.5 billion dollars. Almost 15 % of this concerned Pacific oyster or mussel. Because of this major economic importance a diminished yield of these species will have a large financial impact. Besides that, these species are invaluable for the biodiversity and nature in general along our shorelines. The so-called “ecosystem engineers” create the right underwater climate for other life at the spot. Also, shellfish are an important food source for birds.
Marine biologist Gazeau is now busy preparing the sequel to the shellfish experiment. ‘In this new and longer experiment we will follow mussels under several CO2 concentrations during some months. This way, we will be able to see if they can get used to the more acid conditions. That would reduce the damage to these animals.’ Another issue to study is the response of the more sensitive shellfish larvae to a more acid future sea.
The Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) studies the ecology of land, freshwater and brackish and seawater. The Centre for Estuarine and Marine Ecology in Yerseke studies life in the sea and in estuaries. The NIOO employs about 250 people and is the largest research institute of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Science (KNAW).
Froukje Rienks | alfa
Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide
Malaysia's unique freshwater mussels in danger
27.09.2016 | The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences
25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
25.10.2016 | Process Engineering