Ocean vents are harbingers of an acidic future?

More denial of natural selection.

Climatewire reports:

For Jason Hall-Spencer, a patch of seafloor off Italy’s coast is a time machine.

The site’s volcanic vents bubble jets of carbon dioxide into ocean water, creating an unusually acidic environment that anticipates shifts scientists believe will occur in the wider ocean as CO2 emissions rise.

Hall-Spencer, a marine biologist at the University of Plymouth, is studying the site in Italy, and similar CO2 seeps in Baja California and Papua New Guinea, in an effort to understand how ocean acidification will affect marine life. He presented his findings here last weekend at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

“If you roll into the water at these vent systems, you see this Jacuzzi of bubbles,” Hall-Spencer says. “That’s the CO2. You can pick somewhere on the gradient where it reflects what the global ocean is going to be like in five years time, or 10 years time, or 50 years time — something that’s almost impossible to do in a lab.”

The world’s oceans have absorbed about a third of the CO2 humans have released into the atmosphere since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, making seawater 30 percent more acidic than it was then.

“Right now, we’re increasing CO2 levels and temperatures anywhere from 100 to 200 times faster than anything we’ve seen over the last 800,000 years,” said Richard Feely, a scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory. “And it’s at least 10 times faster than we’ve seen over the past 50 million years.”

Researchers believe that ocean acidification could eventually scramble ocean ecosystems, making it harder for sea creatures like oysters, coral and plankton to grow their hard, chalky shells.

A hint of that future is evident at Hall-Spencer’s three vent sites, “giant laboratories” where pH conditions match what scientists expect to happen in the larger ocean in decades to come.

“The trouble is that they are all showing exactly the same thing,” he said. “If you increase CO2 to the level expected by the end of this century, you get a 30 percent drop in biodiversity”…

Though the ocean is becoming less basic (“acidification” is alarmist rhetoric) is seems to be doing so very slowly, there by allowing the process of natural selection to work its wonders.

If sealife was sensitive to slight pH changes, it would never survive a storm.

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2 thoughts on “Ocean vents are harbingers of an acidic future?”

  1. Actual chemistry aside, it is likely that sea vents in huge numbers have been around for millions of years, and possibly sea life has adapted, or as some might say flourished.

  2. I am completely baffled by the argument that adding carbon dioxide to sea water will make it more difficult for sea animals to form chalky shells. It seems to me that the addition of carbon dioxide to sea water will increase the concentration of carbonate ion, which the concept of solubility product constant says will make calcium carbonate less soluble. The critters should have less trouble causing calcium carbonate to precipitate. Further, is it not true that sea animals form carbonate shells by a chemical process that is somewhat analogous to the Krebs cycle? They use energetic catalysts to make the shells in a process that is not sensitive to pH.

    I further doubt that it is even possible to cause calcium carbonate to dissolve in water in which carbon dioxide is the sole molecule causing a pH decrease. Think of the products of a hypothetical reaction between carbon dioxide and calcium carbonate that releases carbonate ion. The hydronium ions (that dissolution of carbon dioxide released) that release the carbon dioxide from the calcium carbonate immediately form more carbonate ion, which will drive the reaction back toward calcium carbonate. Nothing changes.

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