Ocean Acidification: Research on Top of the World


The Arctic Ocean is one of the most unique bodies of water on the planet. It houses large charismatic predators like polar bears, whales, and seals; critical species like shell fish and phytoplankton; and an array of organisms found nowhere else on Earth. The Arctic Ocean is also the most inaccessible and least explored ocean. Its remoteness has kept it ecologically pristine. But the Arctic is where climate change impacts are strongest and where global changes are underway. The oceans currently absorb about one-third of man-made carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions that enter the atmosphere. As CO2 dissolves in the ocean, it becomes carbonic acid with the innate ability to lower pH levels. This phenomenon of lowering pH in the oceans, known as “ocean acidification,” is predicted to directly affect calcifying organisms such as corals and phytoplankton, as well as the multitudes of marine life that depend on them for food and habitat. If pH continues to drop, then profound global changes in marine food webs and ecosystems could occur. Ocean acidification information is largely nonexistent for the Arctic. To determine what impact greater carbon dioxide absorption is having on the marine environment, U.S. Geological Survey scientists are gathering vital data from these remote waters. Collecting CO2 information and related chemical samples in the largely uncharted Arctic Ocean will fill in important gaps of knowledge for a greater understanding of the impacts increased CO2 is having on ocean chemistry. This unprecedented dataset will help decipher trends in ocean acidification, analyze relations between ocean chemistry trends and human and natural activities, and determine implications for calcifying organisms. Understanding climate change impacts in the Arctic is of high global priority. Working with federal agencies and the international scientific community, the USGS continues to address an issue that will have broad global influence on the marine world.

credit: USGS

source: http://gallery.usgs.gov/videos/430

Flow of Ice Across Antarctica

Date- 18th Aug 11 Source- http://www-a.jpl.nasa.gov/video/index.cfm?id=1015

‘These animations shows the motion of ice in Antarctica.’

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