Tropical Pacific Ocean Acidification Occurring Much Faster Than Expected, NOAA Finds
Change is taking place in the tropical Pacific Ocean, where NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) researchers have found that carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations have increased as much as 65 percent faster than atmospheric CO2 since 1998. Rising CO2 concentrations of this magnitude indicate that tropical Pacific waters are acidifying as fast as ocean waters in the polar regions, which may have grave repercussions for marine food webs, biodiversity, fisheries and tourism.
NOAA researchers collected data from CO2 sensors that NOAA Research Pacific Marine Environmental Lab Carbon Group scientists and engineers installed on moored buoys within the Tropical Atmosphere Ocean Array, a network of buoys stretching across the Pacific. The data stretches from 1997-2011, NOAA explains in a press release.
"We have a 30-year record of CO2 collected from instruments on ships, but this new data tell us the tropical Pacific has changed more rapidly in the past 14 years than observed previously," coauthor and NOAA Senior Scientist Richard Feely was quoted as saying.
Ocean acidification: Threat to those incredible plankton
Amazing as it may seem, microscopic phytoplankton produce over half the oxygen in Earth's atmosphere. Capable of manufacturing their own food from sunlight and chemical elements found in the oceans, phytoplankton are the primary producers that form the base of the marine food web. Many have calcium carbonate shells.
Continue reading at ENN affiliate, Triple Pundit.
Ocean image via Shutterstock.