Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. Earth Science News .

Subscribe free to our newsletters via your

Scientists Urge Faster Installation Of Global Ocean Monitor System

Scientists explore on and beneath polar ice. Their aircraft remotely sense animals through properties of scattered light. Marine animals themselves carry tags that store records of their travels and dives and communicate with satellites. Fish carry tags that revealed their migration past acoustic listening lines. Sounds that echoed back to ships portray schools of fish assembling, swimming, and commuting up and down. Standardized frames and structures dropped near shores and on reefs provide information for comparing diversity and abundance. Manned and unmanned undersea vehicles plus divers photograph sea floors and cliffs. Deep submersibles sniff and videotape smoking seafloor vents. And nets and dredges catch specimens, shallow and deep, for closest study. Credit: E. Paul Oberlander / Census of Marine Life
by Staff Writers
Washington DC (SPX) Nov 03, 2010
The ocean surface is 30 percent more acidic today than it was in 1800, much of that increase occurring in the last 50 years - a rising trend that could both harm coral reefs and profoundly impact tiny shelled plankton at the base of the ocean food web, scientists warn.

Despite the seriousness of such changes to the ocean, however, the world has yet to deploy a complete suite of available tools to monitor rising acidification and other ocean conditions that have a fundamental impact on life throughout the planet.

Marine life patterns, water temperature, sea level, and polar ice cover join acidity and other variables in a list of ocean characteristics that can and should be tracked continuously through the expanded deployment of existing technologies in a permanent, integrated global monitoring system, scientists say.

The Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans (POGO), representing 38 major oceanographic institutions from 21 countries and leading a global consortium called Oceans United, will urge government officials and ministers meeting in Beijing Nov. 3-5 to help complete an integrated global ocean observation system by target date 2015.

It would be the marine component of a Global Earth Observation System of Systems under discussion in Beijing by some 71 member nations of the intergovernmental Group on Earth Observations.

The cost to create an adequate monitoring system has been estimated at $10 billion to $15 billion in assets, with $5 billion in annual operating costs.

Some 600 scientists with expertise in all facets of the oceans developed an authoritative vision of characteristics to monitor at a 2009 conference on ocean observations.

Furthermore, as documented in the forthcoming proceedings of the 2009 conference (to be published shortly by the European Space Agency), the value of such information to the world's financial interests and to human security would dwarf the investment required.

"Although the US and European Union governments have recently signaled support, international cooperation is desperately needed to complete a global ocean observation system that could continuously collect, synthesize and interpret data critical to a wide variety of human needs," says Dr. Kiyoshi Suyehiro, Chairman of POGO.

"Most ocean experts believe the future ocean will be saltier, hotter, more acidic, and less diverse," states Jesse Ausubel, a founder of POGO and of the recently completed Census of Marine Life. "It is past time to get serious about measuring what's happening to the seas around us."

The risks posed by ocean acidification exemplify the many good reasons to act urgently.

POGO-affiliated scientists at the UK-based Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science recently published a world atlas charting the distribution of the subset of plankton species that grow shells at some point in their life cycles.

Not only are these shelled plankton fundamental to the ocean's food web, they also play a major role in planetary climate regulation and oxygen production. Highly acidic sea water inhibits the growth of plankton shells.

The Foundation says the average level of pH at the ocean surface has dropped from 8.2 to 8.1 units, "rendering the oceans more acidic than they have been for 20 million years," with expectations of continuing acidification due to high concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Because colder water retains more carbon dioxide, the acidity of surface waters may increase fastest at Earth's high latitudes where the zooplankton known as pteropods are particularly abundant. Pteropods (see links to images below) are colorful, free-swimming pelagic sea snails and sea slugs on which many animals higher in the food chain depend.

Scientists caution that the overall global marine impact of rising carbon dioxide is unclear because warming of the oceans associated with rising greenhouse gases in the air could in turn lead to lower retention of carbon dioxide at lower latitudes and to potential countervailing effects.

Says Foundation Director Dr. Peter Burkill: "Ocean acidification could have a devastating effect on calcifying organisms, and perhaps marine ecosystems as a whole, and we need global monitoring to provide timely information on trends and fluxes from the tropics to the poles.

Threatened are tiny life forms that help the oceans absorb an estimated 50 gigatonnes of carbon from Earth's atmosphere annually, about the same as all plants and trees on land. Humanity has a vital interest in authoritative information about ocean conditions and a global network of observations is urgently needed."

Ocean conditions that require monitoring can be divided into three categories:

+ Chemical - including pollution, levels of oxygen, and rising acidity;

+ Physical / Geological - including sound, tide and sea levels, as well as sudden wave energy and bottom pressure changes that could provide precious minutes of warning before a tsunami; and

+ Biological - including shifts in marine species diversity, distribution, biomass and ecosystem function due to changing water conditions.

Share This Article With Planet Earth DiggDigg RedditReddit
YahooMyWebYahooMyWeb GoogleGoogle FacebookFacebook

Related Links
Ocean Obs 09
Water News - Science, Technology and Politics

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The Troubled Islands Of The Mississippi Delta
Boulder CO (SPX) Nov 02, 2010
The islands flanking the outlet of the Mississippi River are not only facing losses due to sea level rise and local subsidence, according to one study, but new unknown impacts from oil recovery operations, say researchers working on another project. Both will be presenting their work on Nov. 1 and 2 at the meeting of the Geological Society of America in Denver. Some islands could disappear ... read more

UN raises winter funds alarm in flood-hit Pakistan

81,000 homeless need aid after Myanmar cyclone: UN

Are public service announcements effective

Pakistan flood victims need aid for two years: aid groups

Yahoo! and Samsung expand Internet TV territory

Facebook steps into middle of smartphone lifestyles

Oracle buying Art Technology for one billion dollars

Major Surgery Complete For Deep Space Network Antenna

Australia military head warns of Pacific climate instability

Scientists Urge Faster Installation Of Global Ocean Monitor System

Groundwater Threat To Rivers Worse Than Suspected

Archaeological Sites Threatened By Rising Seas

Increased Arctic Shipping Could Accelerate Climate Change

Is The Ice At The South Pole Melting

End Of Ice Age Holds Clues About Carbon Dioxide Patterns

India makes first expedition to South Pole

Indigenous Colombians shun turtle meat to save dying species

How Lead Gets Into Urban Vegetable Gardens

Paradise Lost And Found At Ramat

Large-Scale Fish Farm Production Offsets Environmental Gains

Eight dead in latest Vietnam floods: government

Thailand scrambles to reach flood victims

Indonesian volcano explodes in new eruption

US naval ship heads to Haiti as tropical storm approaches

Zambia court bails Chinese pair after mine shooting

Tanzanians vote as ruling party predicts landslide win

Nani Croze - East Africa's answer to Gaudi

Arms shipment found in Nigeria loaded in Iran: firm

Light fantastic: Retinal implant brightens future for blind

Clinton urges PNG to end 'culture of violence' against women

Controlling Individual Cortical Nerve Cells By Human Thought

American teen crowned Miss World 2010

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement