Puget Sound Ocean Acidification in Environmental News Again

The Seattle Times reports today on ocean acidification research taking Puget Sound, a topic that our very own Maria Dolan tackled in last month's issue. In honor of today's front page ST story, here are a few photos from the magazine, including a few previously unpublished online.

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Northwest Fisheries Science Laboratory biologist Paul McElhany collects plankton samples at NOAA's Mukilteo Research Station as part of his research on the effects of ocean acidification

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McElhany continues his research, knowing that even small changes in pH levels could affect the species interactions of the entire marine ecosystem

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McElhany in the lab

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McElhany studies oysters in his Montlake lab

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Dr. Richard Feely, senior scientist at NOAA, working with instruments designed to measure oceanic carbon levels at NOAA in Sand Point

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How ocean acidification happens 1. When fossil fuels are burned, carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere, after which a large quantity is then absorbed by the ocean. 2. When mixed with seawater, CO2 chemically changes into carbonic acid. 3. Carbonic acid lowers the ocean’s pH level, nudging it toward acidity. It also increases the water’s hydrogen ion concentration, which in turn limits organisms’ access to carbonate ions—essential to the formation of hard parts, such as shells.

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A Pteropod dissolves: At right, a two-month time-lapse sequence showing what happens to a pteropod (2–3 mm) when exposed to surface seawater simulating CO2 conditions at the century’s end—assuming a “business-as-usual” CO2 emissions scenario.

Want more? Read Dolan's entire article, "Ocean Acidification: Global Warming's Doppelgänger" and check out her interview with Ted Danson, author of Oceana: Our Endangered Oceans and What We Can Do to Save Them, who swung through Seattle earlier this month.

Follow Seattlemag.com managing editor Karen Johnson on Twitter at @karen_l_johnson