Ocean acidification movie in early 2009

Ocean acidification is a terrifying but little-known effect of too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, kind of like the Shelob to climate change’s Nazgul. Essentially, carbon dioxide from the atmosphere dissolves into seawater and raises lowers the pH, making the water more acidic. This makes it hard for critters with a calcium carbonate shell or skeleton to live and grow. Who has a calcium carbonate shell? Corals, mussels, oysters, clams, bryozoans, some worms, snails, red algae, some kinds of plankton…almost everything in the ocean either has a calcium carbonate part or lives on or eats something that does. If the ocean gets too acid, entire ecosystems could crash and burn.

That’s why Sven Huseby and the crew behind a new documentary are working to raise awareness of this nasty, nasty problem.

A Sea Change will focus public attention on this urgent but little-known crisis. It follows retired educator and concerned grandfather Sven Huseby back to stunning ancestral sites (Norway, Alaska the Pacific Northwest) where he finds cutting-edge ocean research underway. His journey of self-discovery brings adventure, surprise and revelation to the hard science of acidification.

Check out the preview here. A Sea Change is planning release in early 2009.

(Thanks to A Sea Change for linking to us! That’s how I found out about them.)

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2 Responses to Ocean acidification movie in early 2009

  1. Peter says:

    Miriam, I’m sorry, but you’ve got the details wrong here. I hope the documentary is less misleading, but I won’t count on it because of the 1,000,000 species remark on the title card showing at Deep Sea News is ridiculous.

    To be clear, CO2 interacts with seawater to release hydrogen ions that LOWER the pH of seawater. Because the avg ocean pH is ~8.2, and the projected decrease is such that the ocean will never become acidic, only more neutral. Ocean acidification is a misnomer. The problem is more accurately referred to as ocean neutralization.

    I agree the problem is real, but its hopelessly exaggerated by some groups because the chemistry is complicated. Maybe this NOAA post will help a little.

    http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/explorations/08lophelia/logs/sept24/sept24.html

  2. Sorry, that was a typo above. I did mean to type that CO2 “lowers” rather than “raises” the pH – it’s now corrected. Anyway, though I understand your point, “ocean acidification” is currently the most widely used name for this phenomenon. (1,2,3). Technically, I suppose, the most accurate name might be “decrease in carbonate ion saturation” but I was trying to be quick, and as you say, the chemistry is complicated.

    As for the 1,000,000 species figure, I think the jury is legitimately out. We can argue about whether being alarmist is the best strategy, but acidification has indeed been linked to mass extinction in the geologic past. (For example, Zachos et al. 2005 ).

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