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Impacts of ocean acidification on marine organisms: quantifying sensitivities and interaction with warming

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      Abstract

      Ocean acidification represents a threat to marine species worldwide, and forecasting the ecological impacts of acidification is a high priority for science, management, and policy. As research on the topic expands at an exponential rate, a comprehensive understanding of the variability in organisms' responses and corresponding levels of certainty is necessary to forecast the ecological effects. Here, we perform the most comprehensive meta-analysis to date by synthesizing the results of 228 studies examining biological responses to ocean acidification. The results reveal decreased survival, calcification, growth, development and abundance in response to acidification when the broad range of marine organisms is pooled together. However, the magnitude of these responses varies among taxonomic groups, suggesting there is some predictable trait-based variation in sensitivity, despite the investigation of approximately 100 new species in recent research. The results also reveal an enhanced sensitivity of mollusk larvae, but suggest that an enhanced sensitivity of early life history stages is not universal across all taxonomic groups. In addition, the variability in species' responses is enhanced when they are exposed to acidification in multi-species assemblages, suggesting that it is important to consider indirect effects and exercise caution when forecasting abundance patterns from single-species laboratory experiments. Furthermore, the results suggest that other factors, such as nutritional status or source population, could cause substantial variation in organisms' responses. Last, the results highlight a trend towards enhanced sensitivity to acidification when taxa are concurrently exposed to elevated seawater temperature.

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      Anthropogenic ocean acidification over the twenty-first century and its impact on calcifying organisms.

      Today's surface ocean is saturated with respect to calcium carbonate, but increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations are reducing ocean pH and carbonate ion concentrations, and thus the level of calcium carbonate saturation. Experimental evidence suggests that if these trends continue, key marine organisms--such as corals and some plankton--will have difficulty maintaining their external calcium carbonate skeletons. Here we use 13 models of the ocean-carbon cycle to assess calcium carbonate saturation under the IS92a 'business-as-usual' scenario for future emissions of anthropogenic carbon dioxide. In our projections, Southern Ocean surface waters will begin to become undersaturated with respect to aragonite, a metastable form of calcium carbonate, by the year 2050. By 2100, this undersaturation could extend throughout the entire Southern Ocean and into the subarctic Pacific Ocean. When live pteropods were exposed to our predicted level of undersaturation during a two-day shipboard experiment, their aragonite shells showed notable dissolution. Our findings indicate that conditions detrimental to high-latitude ecosystems could develop within decades, not centuries as suggested previously.
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        Oceanography: anthropogenic carbon and ocean pH.

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          Ocean acidification: the other CO2 problem.

          Rising atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), primarily from human fossil fuel combustion, reduces ocean pH and causes wholesale shifts in seawater carbonate chemistry. The process of ocean acidification is well documented in field data, and the rate will accelerate over this century unless future CO2 emissions are curbed dramatically. Acidification alters seawater chemical speciation and biogeochemical cycles of many elements and compounds. One well-known effect is the lowering of calcium carbonate saturation states, which impacts shell-forming marine organisms from plankton to benthic molluscs, echinoderms, and corals. Many calcifying species exhibit reduced calcification and growth rates in laboratory experiments under high-CO2 conditions. Ocean acidification also causes an increase in carbon fixation rates in some photosynthetic organisms (both calcifying and noncalcifying). The potential for marine organisms to adapt to increasing CO2 and broader implications for ocean ecosystems are not well known; both are high priorities for future research. Although ocean pH has varied in the geological past, paleo-events may be only imperfect analogs to current conditions.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [* ]Bodega Bay Laboratory, University of California 2099 Westside Rd, Bodega Bay, CA, 94923, USA
            []University of British Columbia Vancouver, BC, Canada, V6T1Z4
            []Puget Sound Restoration Fund 590 Madison Ave N, Bainbridge Island, WA, 98110, USA
            [§ ]Global Change department, IMEDEA (CSIC-UIB), Instituto Mediterráneo de Estudios Avanzados C/Miquel Marqués 21, Esporles (Mallorca), 07190, Spain
            []Laboratorio de Ecologia y Cambio Climatico, Facultad de Ciencias Universidad Santo Tomas C/Ejercito, 146, Santiago de Chile
            []The UWA Oceans Institute and School of Plant Biology, University of Western Australia 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, 6009, Australia
            [** ]Laboratoire d'Océanographie de Villefranche-sur-Mer, CNRS-INSU BP 28, Villefranche-sur-Mer Cedex, 06234, France
            [†† ]Université Pierre et Marie Curie-Paris 6 Observatoire Océanologique de Villefranche, Villefranche-sur-Mer Cedex, 06230, France
            Author notes
            Kristy J. Kroeker, tel. + (707) 875-1961, fax + (707) 875-2211, e-mail: kjkroeker@ 123456ucdavis.edu
            Journal
            Glob Chang Biol
            Glob Chang Biol
            gcb
            Global Change Biology
            Blackwell Publishing Ltd
            1354-1013
            1365-2486
            June 2013
            03 April 2013
            : 19
            : 6
            : 1884-1896
            23505245 3664023 10.1111/gcb.12179
            Copyright © 2013 Blackwell Publishing Ltd

            Re-use of this article is permitted in accordance with the Creative Commons Deed, Attribution 2.5, which does not permit commercial exploitation.

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