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Hatfield tackles ocean acidification — Local work on global climate change

Modified: Thursday, Mar 27th, 2014

Dr. Annaliese Hettinger, right, examines coralline algae in local tide pools as part of a monitoring program focused on impacts of ocean acidification on tide pool plants. Hettinger, a post-doc at Oregon State University, also conducts experiments in her laboratory at the Hatfield Marine Science Center to determine the impacts of OA on these critical plants. -- Dr. Tom Hurst of NOAA checks on his laboratory setup to test effects of low pH on fish eggs and larvae. Multiple labs at the Hatfield Marine Science Center are studying the impacts of ocean acidification, an outcome of global climate change.

SOUTH BEACH — Rising global temperatures. Melting polar ice caps. Increasing risk of wonky weather. Flooding from sea level rise and increased storm surge. These predicted outcomes of global climate change are now lodged in the public consciousness and studied carefully by scientists and policy makers.

Add to the list a climate change side effect that has only recently been in the news, although scientists have been considering its implications for years: ocean acidification.

Ocean acidification (OA) is exactly what it sounds like. Rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are leading to increased carbon dioxide levels in the ocean, the result of which is a decrease in oceanic pH, the measure of a substance’s acidity. Lower numbers equate to more acidic conditions. Since the start of the industrial revolution, scientists estimate that the acidity of the ocean’s surface waters has risen by 26 percent.

For the complete article see the 03-26-2014 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 03-26-2014 paper.

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