Acidic oceans

will burt

“I don’t think you can see effects anywhere but in the oceans themselves” Said Will Burt a third year grad student at Dalhousie in the Oceanography department.

The effects Burt is speaking about are as a result of an up and coming problem with our oceans that not a lot of people are addressing these days.

Ocean Acidification is “a pretty basic premise” said Burt, “You’ve got more co2 in the air, more co2 dissolved into the water that decreases the PH of surface waters and making it more acidic.”

What many people do not know about this acidification of the ocean are the effects that it can have. So far these effects are directly on crustaceous species that live in the ocean such as lobsters, and mussels.

examples of some crustaceans that could be effected

These effects are branching out to hit coral reefs now too. Because of the lack of carbonate in the ocean the coral reefs are unable to form strong skeletons, which causes them to essentially dissolve.

“The only direct effect you cold see at this point is that if you lived in a place that relied on coral reefs for tourism.” Said Burt.  Also noting that in the future this could affect the Halifax and Nova Scotia eco water tourism industry.

“I don’t think it effects Halifax as much as it does other places” said Burt “, in the future if this continues to happen, the oceans become more acidic, then yeah, you are going to see effects in the fishing industry because these organisms that form their shells are the base of the food chain for various species.”

As far as prevention for the continual acidification of out oceans goes Burt does not see there being a short-term solution.  Long-term solutions such as sequestering the excess carbon, a practice where the extra carbon is isolated or hidden in caves or bubbles at on the ocean floor.

Other long-term solutions include iron fertilization. This is a process where extra iron is put in the ocean to increase phytoplankton production. “By dong that it will soak up CO2 in surface waters and when those organisms die and sink out to the deep ocean itself, on the bottom is dead shells that removes co2 from the surface waters.” Explains Burt.

“So these sorts of tactics for sequestering co2 is kind of one thing that people talked about in kind of remediating the problem on a short scale. But I think awareness is probably one of the big things that scientists in this field are probably trying to do now.” Says Burt.

Halifax may not have anything to worry about just yet because of the ocean ecosystem in this area that is currently losing Carbon rather than gaining it. But in the future if this acidification becomes worse this area of the ocean could be affected.

“On a longer time scale if the food chain is disrupted then you are going to see hits to more than just the shell fisheries right,” said Burt, “you are gong to see lower levels of the food chain then you can effect the entire ocean ecosystem”

“It’s clear that its going to stop, its going to continue” Adds Burt.