Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Discovery

I chose the discovery of seven new species of deep-sea corals as the basis for my presentation. Here is the article:
Seven new species of deep sea coral discovered

By Jeremy Hance
March 09, 2009
In the depths of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, which surrounds ten Hawaiian islands, scientists discovered seven new species of bamboo coral. Supported by the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the discoveries are even more surprising in that six of the seven species may represent entirely new genus of coral. "These discoveries are important, because deep-sea corals support diverse seafloor ecosystems and also because these corals may be among the first marine organisms to be affected by ocean acidification," said Richard Spinrad, NOAA's assistant administrator for Oceanic and Atmospheric Research. Caused by excess carbon dioxide, ocean acidification leads to changes in the ocean’s chemistry which deteriorates and kills coral reefs. "Deep-sea bamboo corals also produce growth rings much as trees do, and can provide a much-needed view of how deep ocean conditions change through time," adds Spinrad. Rob Dunbar, a Stanford University scientist, studies climate by examining deep sea corals that have survived thousands of year. "We found live, 4,000-year-old corals in the Monument – meaning 4,000 years worth of information about what has been going on in the deep ocean interior,” said Dunbar. "Studying these corals can help us understand how they survive for such long periods of time as well as how they may respond to climate change in the future.” Spreading over 140,000 square miles (360,000 square kilometers) Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is one of the world’s largest Marine Protected Areas. Ninety-eight percent of its area is only accessible to underwater submersibles. The discovery of the coral was achieved by the submersible vessel, Pisces V, which visited sites between 3300 and 4200 feet below the surface.

The original article can be found here.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

How will scientists use the knowledge from this discovery?

Scientists will continue studying the seven species of coral (that were discovered in March 2009) to observe the effects of ocean acidification on all other marine life. It states in the article that these deep-sea corals are expected to be some of the first marine organisms affected by ocean acidification, so they can use the knowledge from these to predict what may happen to other marine life.

Where is ocean acidification occurring the most?

This diagram shows the "change in sea surface pH caused by anthropogenic CO2 between the 1700s and the 1990s". (Basically, where ocean acidification is happening the most).

Friday, October 2, 2009

Ocean Acidification: the good, the bad, and the ugly

Good: Nothing.

Bad: Coral reefs, fish, and all other sea creatures will be threatened by the change in the genetic make-up of our oceans.

Ugly: if we don't stop it now, who knows what will happen? Our ocean ecosystems will be in danger of becoming extinct over something we could have changed.

An Interesting Video

Frequently Asked Questions

What is ocean acidification? Ocean acidification is an excess of carbon dioxide in the water.

How does the carbon dioxide get there? Mainly by the combustion of fossils fuels and deforestation.

What will happen if nothing is done to stop ocean acidification? No one knows for sure, but the prediction is that the ocean will be so acidic that fish, coral reefs and other marine animals will disappear forever.

Why should I care? Because this, my friend, is our future. Unless we do something about it, our oceans will never be the same.

Surely it can be easily reversed? Nope. Ocean acidification is practically irreversible.

What can we do? We can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere and stop the spread of deforestation; by limiting our use of fossil fuels, like burning coal for electricity and using gasoline in our cars, and reducing deforestation by using recycled paper products and recycling paper when we're done with it.