Sea Change: Carbon Dioxide Imperils Marine Ecosystems

By Perkins, S. | Science News, July 17, 2004 | Go to article overview

Sea Change: Carbon Dioxide Imperils Marine Ecosystems


Perkins, S., Science News


Almost half the carbon dioxide produced by human activity in the past 2 centuries is now dissolved in the oceans. It's wreaking chemical changes there that, if unchecked, could threaten the capacity of corals and other marine organisms to make their hard shells and skeletons, scientists say.

From 1800 to 1994, fossil fuel use and industrial processes such as cement production generated some 900 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide. Atmospheric concentrations of the planet-warming greenhouse gas rose during that period from about 280 parts per million to around 360 ppm, says Christopher L. Sabine, an oceanographer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Seattle. He reports that data garnered during more than 95 recent transoceanic research cruises suggest that much carbon dioxide ended up in the oceans as well.

Between 1989 and 1998, seagoing researchers measured the oceans' temperature, pH, salinity, and other aspects of marine chemistry from the water's surface to the seafloor. In a report in the July 16 Science, Sabine and his colleagues estimate that between 1800 and 1994, the world's oceans absorbed about 433 billion metric tons of industrial carbon dioxide.

The threat to shell-making marine life follows from the carbonic acid ([H.sub.2]C[O.sub.3]) that forms when carbon dioxide dissolves in water. In the ocean, much of that acid reacts with carbonate ions in the water to form nonacidic compounds (SN: 8/17/02, p. 104).

Carbonate ions are abundant in most surface waters, and corals and some free-swimming organisms use the material to form their calcium carbonate skeletons or shells, says Richard A. Feely, a marine chemist also at NOAA in Seattle. As ocean chemistry has slowly changed over the past 2 centuries, however, there's been a decrease in the range of depths at which the two most common forms of biomineralized calcium carbonate--aragonite and calcite--can dissolve. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Sea Change: Carbon Dioxide Imperils Marine Ecosystems
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.