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
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.
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.
Published online before print November 8, 2010
vol. 107 no. 47 20400-20404
This scientific report, like many others, speaks of the effects of increased dissolved CO2 (pCO2) in ocean water. This study focuses expressly on how varied pCO2 levels affect the recruitment and reproduction success of a specific Caribbean coral species Acropora palmate. This study used current pCO2 conditions as a basis and then continued on to test the recruitment process of this coral species in progressively higher pCO2 levels, all of which are expected to be reached by the end of the century. The impact of the elevated pCO2 levels tested showed a 52% and 73% reduction in the number of larval settlers on the reef under pCO2 conditions projected for the middle and the end of this century.
This study shows that pCO2, a recognized component of ocean acidification, without a doubt affects the success and longevity of a coral ecosystem. Not only does pCO2 do all this, but it also alters fundamentals of ocean chemistry such as the pH and aragonite saturation, furthering the detrimental effect on the Caribbean coral ecosystem.
Journal of Limnology and Oceanography, doi:10.4319/lo.2010.55.6.2424 (2010)
Since the dawn of the industrial age, oceans have been absorbing about 1/3 of the massive amounts of CO2 that humans have produced. When ocean water absorbs CO2 it makes carbonic acid which acidifies the ocean and decreases the saturation state of calcium carbonate (CaCO3). This event has consequences for organisms that rely on high saturation states to build their shells and skeletons.
In this study led by Li-Qing Jiang, the researchers monitored the saturation state of the water off of the coast of the southeastern US from 2005 to 2006. They found that in all cases the water was supersaturated with CaCO3. They also concluded that the saturation state of East Coast water was higher than that of West Coast water due to the age of the water in global circulation and the upwelling that occurs in the Pacific Ocean.
Understanding Public Opinion on Climate Change: A Call for Research
Environmental Magazine doi:10.1080/00139157.2011.588555 (2011)
Although there is widespread agreement among scientists regarding the seriousness of anthropogenic global warming, such a consensus has not reached the general public. In fact, the proportion of Americans who accept the realities of climate change has decreased significantly over the last three years even while scientific evidence of the phenomenon has been strengthened.
Scientists often make the assumption that the public uses rational decision making, weighing the positives and negatives of an issue, to form an opinion. The rational choice model is not sufficient to understand public opinion regarding climate change, however, because it would solely attribute the lack of interest in climate change to a lack of knowledge about the phenomenon. For instance, the rational choice model does not explain why, among Republicans, higher levels of educational attainment are not correlated with increased acceptance of global warming.
Instead of the rational choice model, opinions on climate change are increasingly being formed by connecting information about the issue from trustworthy sources to preexisting beliefs and values. As the political environment has become more polarized decisions are being made less on a case by case analysis of costs and benefits. This is supported by the fact that opinions of Democrats and Independents regarding climate change have remained fairly constant while those of self-identified republicans have dropped significantly over the past three years.
This study by Marquart-Pyatt et al. demonstrates that the anemic public interest in climate change cannot solely be attributed to a lack of knowledge about the phenomenon. Instead, it is indicative of a polarized political climate where decisions are made more on political affiliation than rational choice. More research needs to be conducted in order to to understand the mechanism of public opinion.
In a study performed by Kyun Soo Kim on anonymous students from Ohio State University and the University of Alabama, the political basis behind general opinions on global warming was explored. The idea that partisanship played a significant role in determining how the public perceived scientific findings speaks to the power of the media, and the potential for combatting global warming to an even further extent through a unified message.
The method Kim used was a two-step process, first conducting an online survey with the 183 participants, and then a week later issuing a reading from the EPA to the same participants and asking them several questions relating to their perceptions of news bias and other topics. The process resulted in a general separation between two groups, those that saw global warming as being created through natural means, and those who saw it created through humanity. There was a sufficient level of partisanship between the two groups, as the natural group had data coefficients of n = 41 , M = 1.61, and SD = .49, while the humanity had coefficients of n =97, M = 4.35, and SD = .48. These groups also showed significant correlations with party identifications, as Democrats and liberals saw the human-caused idea to be more realistic, whereas the Republicans and conservatives did not.
Kim, Kyun Soo, 2010. Public understanding of the politics of global warming in the news media: the hostile media approach. Public Understanding of Science 20:690.