12 November 2013

Japanese Report Indicates Rising Temperatures and Progressing Ocean Acidification Worldwide

OA_pHtrend_137E_en.jpg Ocean_Acidification_map.jpg
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The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) released its 2012 "Climate Change Monitoring Report" on July 12, 2013, which provides observations and analyses of the climate, and oceanographic and atmospheric environments of both Japan and the world. According to the report, the global annual mean temperature in 2012 was the 8th highest since 1891, and is increasing at a rate of 0.68 degrees Celsius per century.

The concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere and ocean have been increasing over the long term. The global average CO2 concentration in the atmosphere was 390.9 parts per million (ppm) in 2011, up 2.0 ppm from 2010. On average, CO2 concentration has been increasing at an annual rate of 2.0 ppm in the past ten years, representing a larger rate of increase than the 1.5 ppm observed in the 1990s. The mean growth rates of oceanic CO2 concentrations from 1984 to 2012 were 1.6 ppm per year.

Ocean acidification, known as the decrease in seawater pH (potential ion hydrogen), is caused by the marine uptake of atmospheric CO2 emitted by human activity. This report also included monitoring results regarding ocean acidification for the first time.

JMA has been conducting oceanographic observations in the western North Pacific for a long time. JMA estimated the pH in surface waters at northern latitudes between 3 and 34 degrees along the 137 east longitude, one of JMA's repeat hydrographic lines, in winter since 1984 using CO2 concentration and related data in surface waters. The results revealed that pH has clearly decreased at all latitudes, and the mean decrease rate of pH was 0.017 per decade, suggesting an increase in ocean acidity. Since ocean acidification is a particular issue of concern because it accelerates global warming by reducing marine capability of CO2 uptake from the atmosphere and affects marine ecosystem, JMA will continue the monitoring of marine environment in the future.

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No Safe Havens in Increasingly Acid Oceans

Because many deep-sea ecosystems are so stable, even small changes in temperature, oxygen, and pH may lower the resilience of deep-sea communities. Credit: Courtesy NOAA HURL Archives
Because many deep-sea ecosystems are so stable, even small changes in temperature, oxygen, and pH may lower the resilience of deep-sea communities. Credit: Courtesy NOAA HURL Archives

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Oct 15 2013 (IPS) - Oil, gas and coal are contaminating the world’s oceans from top to bottom, threatening the lives of more than 800 million people, a new study warns Tuesday.
“It took a year to analyse and synthesise all of the studies on the impacts of climate change on ocean species,” Camilo Mora, an ecologist at University of Hawai‘i in Honolulu and lead author, told IPS.
"We are seeing greater changes, happening faster, and the effects are more imminent than previously anticipated." -- Alex Rogers of the University of Oxford
Mora is also lead author of ground-breaking climate study published in Nature last week.
“It was very sad to see all the responses were negative. We were hoping there might be some safe havens,” he said.
The study found that carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels are overheating the oceans, turning them acidic and reducing the amount of oxygen in seawater. This is happening too fast for most marine species to adapt and ocean ecosystems around the world will collapse.
By 2100, no corner of the oceans that cover 70 percent of the Earth’s surface will be untouched.