ucar Highlights 2007

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Winds of Change


Understanding the most critical environmental threat of our time—a climate in flux—is one of the prime goals of NCAR scientists and their university colleagues. Their work flows from NCAR’s rich and sustained program of basic research on the Earth system.

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The character of change | Top of the world | Shaping the atmosphere | Models and molecules |

How to talk about climate change | Oceans and carbon dioxide | A tropical tempest

 
HIGHLIGHTS Multimedia

web iconImpacts of Ocean Acidification on Coral Reefs and Other Marine Calcifiers

 

Oceans and carbon dioxide

reef

As CO2 builds up in the oceans, the trend toward acidity lowers the concentration of carbonate ion, a building block of corals and many other marine organisms.

Global climate change is making its mark below sea level as well as above. Seawater is naturally basic, lying in the upper half of the pH scale, but as oceans absorb more carbon dioxide, seawater pH is decreasing. A 2006 report, Impacts of Ocean Acidification on Coral Reefs and Other Marine Calcifiers, details the risks. NCAR’s Joan Kleypas served as lead author for the report, compiled by scientists at NOAA, the U.S. Geological Survey, and several other labs and universities. As carbon dioxide builds up in the oceans, the trend toward acidity lowers the concentration of carbonate ion, a building block of corals and coral reefs and the skeletons of many other marine organisms. It’s the largest shift in marine chemistry in at least 650,000 years. “It is clear that seawater chemistry will change in ways that will dramatically alter marine life,” says Kleypas. “But we are only beginning to understand the complex interactions between large-scale chemistry changes and marine ecology.” The report calls for new research strategies to better understand these complex threats to some of our oceans’ most sensitive creatures.

 

 

The character of change | Top of the world | Shaping the atmosphere | Models and molecules |

How to talk about cimate change | Oceans and carbon dioxide | A tropical tempest