Burning fossil fuels releases vast amounts of nitrous oxides, ammonia and sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere as well as carbon dioxide. Coastal areas are particularly at risk due to the short lifespan of these chemicals (up to 7 days)- most are deposited on land. In the ocean, the sulphur and nitrogen takes the form of dissociated products of nitric and sulphuric acid. These acids are strong and so dissociate completely in the seawater, lowering its pH. However, the overall process of acidification is more complicated than this as there are many chemicals dissolved in the oceans, each of which effects its own change when these new chemicals are added in. Although the changes in the sea due to nitrogen and sulphur compounds are only a fraction of the amount caused by carbon dioxide, the effects are compounded in coastal areas with 10-50% of the change due to these chemicals.
Doney SC, Mahowald N, Lima I, Feely RA, Mackenzie FT, Lamarque J-F & Rasch PJ. Impact of anthropogenic atmospheric nitrogen and sulphur deposition on ocean acidifiaction and the inorganic carbon system. PNAS; 2011: 104(37): 14580-14585
Cheryl A. Logan discusses the causes, effects, possible solution, and awareness of ocean acidification. Ocean acidification is caused by carbon dioxide dissolving into the Earth’s oceans, generating carbonic acid. Over the past 200 years the pH of the ocean has decreased by 0.1 units, a 30% drop. Ocean acidification affects the ability of several species to calcify, which could affect the food chain and indirectly damage the economy. Scientist have looked into geoengineering as a way to palliate the situation, but reducing carbon emissions is the largest way to help.
Logan also looked into the public and government awareness of ocean acidification. While it seems that the public knows little on the subject, no actual research has been done to prove this. However, the government seems to be much more informed and there are several organizations that are working to improve the situation. In general, Logan suggests using social-networking sites, films, the blogoshpere, and other media to increase awareness.
Public Opin. Quart. 71, 444-470 (2007)
Researchers have compiled a comprehensive summary of trends in public opinion about global warming in the U.S.A.
Matthew C. Nisbet at American University and Teresa Myers at Ohio State University collected survey data from the past 20 years. They found that the level of awareness of global warming is strongly related to the amount of media attention paid to the issue. Despite high levels of public awareness in recent years, few Americans have a good understanding of the science behind global warming. In addition, many Americans erroneously believe that there is widespread disagreement among scientists concerning the legitimacy of global warming.
Most Americans support stricter regulations on industries to control emissions, but are opposed to tax hikes on petrol and electricity that would affect consumer behaviour. Many are also in support of solar and wind energy.
Nature Geoscience 4, 766–770 (2011) doi:10.1038/ngeo1297
Published online 23 October 2011
Wei-Jun Cai and his colleagues analyze to regions that highly influenced by nutrients contained river: the northern Gulf of Mexico and the East China Sea. At the two sites, they look to support that eutrophication can increase the susceptibility of coastal waters to ocean acidification.
Both the northern Gulf of Mexico and East China Sea are shallow shelf environments that receive immense loads of nutrients, organic carbon, and inorganic carbon from two of the world’s largest rivers: the Mississippi River and Changjiang River. These two rivers were observed to contain massive loads of nitrates.
After assessing collected data in the two regions, Wei-Jun saw a widespread development of hypoxia, areas of low pH, high dissolved inorganic carbon, and low carbonate saturation state. Wei-Jun showed that eutrophication in the two bodies of water associated with the development of hypoxia and the acidification of subsurface waters.
Gustavo Adolfo Paredes analyses in his dissertation the degradation and recovery of coral reefs. He specifically looked into the types of conservation techniques used to protect coral reefs. Marine reserves were found to be the main type of conservation by reducing the impacts of human activities to the ecosystem, especially in relation to fishing. However, there are is not a plethora of reserves in the Caribbean. A major problem that Paredes discovered was the lack of enforcement in these reserves. He found that those reserves fully protected showed a trackable amount of positive change. He also found that the protection efforts occurring were not well known throughout local communities inhibiting their abilities to contribute to the protection of the coral reefs. Paredes concluded that larger marine reserves need to be designated, more regulations on fisheries need to be implemented, and pollution controls near reserves should be increased as well.
Under lead author Andrea J. Fassbender, researchers studied the transportation of subsurface waters containing high carbon dioxide levels in the California Current System to the surface of the ocean near shorelines. Specifically, they studied an event of upwelling near coastal northern California. As the water traveled toward shore, subsurface respiration added dissolved inorganic carbon along its path, making the water undersaturated in terms of Aragonite. In the mixed layer, levels of pCO(2) decreased due to the addition of DIC, addition of alkalinity, and gas exchange. The contribution of each process depended on the distance of the area from land. According analysis of the results, when waters arrive at the surface of the ocean gas exchange and biological productivity reduce ocean acidification over time, but respiration processes along the path followed by the upwelling tend to increase the acidification of the upwelling waters.
Continental Shelf Research 31, 1180-1192 (2011)
GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 37, L02601, doi:10.1029/2009GL040999, 2010
As ocean acidification begins to make its mark, scientists have also begun to further examine different bodies of water in respect to the decreasing pH levels. Byrne and colleagues at the University of South Florida studied pH level changes in the Northern Pacific Ocean between 1991 and 2006 at various latitudes. pH levels were determined by spectrophotometry of samples collected along 152°W. Atmospheric CO2 levels were also determined for this time period, however using a model. Byrne and colleagues found that pH changes were largest at 29°N and 56°N, with pH levels sub 7.3. They believe this may be attributable to these areas having low O2 levels. Comparing the increases in atmospheric CO2 with the changes in pH levels, The team concluded that the rate of pH decrease is on par with atmospheric CO2 increases. This study provides additional evidence on ocean acidification, and its affects on yet another body of water.
This research article will be paramount in explaining why we are testing the hypothesis that we are testing. This article explains that other chemical compounds and ions can effect the acidity of the ocean more than carbon dioxide. The main arguement in this article is that other significant chemical compounds and ions have a great effect on eutrophication, which is turn has a greater influence on the acidity of the coastal oceans, that athropogenic carbon dioxide.
According to Borges and Gypens, marine organisms can respond to ocean acidification through nitrogen gas and nitrogen fixation. An increase in nitrogen can increase eutrophication, because nitrogen is a nutrient for many photosynthetic organisms and other bacteria. Our group will research any trends in nitrogen ion composition in the coastal oceans of Georgia, to determine if ocean acidificiation is occuring.
In the results section of this primary research article, Borges and gypens concluded that from 1990 to 1998 a decrease in the phosphate ions in a river resulted in a significant decrease in primary productions. They conducted simulations in which they compared other chemical compounds such as nitrogen, ammonium, phospate, and nitrate all show greater signifcant effects in the change in PH, a greater change in the saturation state of calcite and a greater change in the saturation state of aragonite.
JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH, VOL. 110, C09S04, doi:10.1029/2004JC002671, 2005
Ken Caldeira (Carnegie Institution) and Michael E. Wickett (LL National Laboratory) have performed an experiment that uses ocean models to predict the changes in ocean chemistry due to carbon dioxide (CO2) absorption. In this study, simulations of CO2 are injected into “the deep ocean interior,” while criteria such as aragonite undersaturation, calcite undersaturation, and pH level are measured. For the emission of CO2, two different pathways are considered 1) century-scale SRES pathways and 2) pathways that release a certain amount of CO2 over several centuries.
Some of the main results compiled include the fact that 5,000 Pg C causes aragonite undersaturation in the majority of the ocean, while 10,000 Pg C produces calcite undersaturation as well. Simulations of the SRES pathways predict a global pH drop of about .3-.5 units by 2300. And also by the year 2300, CO2 emissions of 5,000 Pg C are predicted to produce a .8 drop in pH, while those of 20,000 Pg C will produce a 1.4 unit drop. Thus, the results and simulations show that the changes in ocean chemistry caused by CO2 injection (analogous to anthropogenic absorption) are biologically significant.
The recycling cycle: An empirical examination of consumer waste recycling and recycling shopping behaviors
Journal of Public Policy and Marketing
Vol .19 issue 1 pages 93-105
Although recycling efforts have increased and pushes for multiple sustainability efforts have surfaces recently, waste production has also increased. Additionally, participation is nowhere near its potential.
This article first investigates how much waste consumers have generated over the years and how much of it was and is properly recycled. For example, between 1970 and 1995, per consumer per day waste output increased by 86 pounds (only 27% of which was recycled). It describes how the issue of recycling also falls under the category of international public policy. In this way, the article establishes recycling and waste production as a major issue and presents a case for its priority among other environmental or economical issues. The article uses its research data to establish a “recycling cycle” which consists of recycling waste, the subsequent purchase of recycled products. The main point this article makes is that recycling statistics not only indicate that attitudes toward the act of recycling not only affect recycling efforts but also the purchase of recycled materials. The research shows disrupting the aforementioned “recycling cycle” can easily affect recycling as a whole as well as the economy and the environment.