Carbon Absorption by the Ocean

Discussion in 'Commercial Fishermen's Forum' started by Kailua Kid, Mar 15, 2019.

  1. Kailua Kid

    Kailua Kid Senior Member

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    There is a disturbing article in the Seattle Times (and probably other newspapers) today about the extent to which (approximately 31%) the oceans have been absorbing the carbon released into the atmosphere. Apparently, our oceans have been absorbing atmospheric carbon for eons, but much more carbon has been released and is currently being released into the atmosphere now than at any time in recent history. The carbon then sinks down very deep, buffering the temperature affect it would have on the atmosphere. Problem is that in the process, heat is also being absorbed by the oceans, gradually warming the oceans -- and possibly worse (at least more urgently), the oceans are becoming more acidic.

    We have been seeing real-world affects of the PH change in the seawater here in the Pacific Northwest, where deep ocean currents cause an upwelling of cold, carbon-rich (hence more acidic) water along our coast, especially in certain areas. The acidic water prevents some of our oyster populations from being able to create shell material fast enough (the spat actually expire because of the extra effort required to build their shells faster than the calcium material is dissolved in the elevated acid sea water) to be able to reach adulthood. Consequently, in some areas here, the spat is raised out in Hawaii, in rearing ponds, then transported back to the PNW to be "planted" in the historic oyster beds after the shells are sufficiently formed. Bizarre!

    Fisheries scientists here and in Alaska are hard at work trying to figure out which species we depend on will be able to adapt fast enough to handle the higher acidity and which are doomed unless the current trajectory is changed.

    As I understand it (and I do not pretend to be a scientist by any stretch), it takes something like 30 years for the atmospheric carbon released in Asia to be absorbed, to sink into the ocean depths, and then to be carried by these deep Pacific currents to the coasts of Washington and Alaska, where it upwells. So, if we could turn off the carbon spigot right now (and that ain't gonna happen), the adverse impact at least here on the Left Coast will continue on the same steep trajectory it has been on for the last 30 years, for 30 years to come! Yikes! I really hope that is not the case.

    Why does the ocean acidification issue not get discussed on a regular basis? Are you guys on our other two coasts having to deal with this problem yet???
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2019
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  2. djmarchand

    djmarchand Captain

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    Please reformat your posting into paragraphs. It is unreadable now.

    David
     
  3. captjohn

    captjohn Captain

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    One little problem.

    Carbon, by itself, does NOT dissolve in, or react with, most materials, including water and acids. It is also one of the most common elements. It is present in all living things.

    Carbon dioxide however, does react with water, forming carbonic acid which is a weak acid.
     
  4. powderpro

    powderpro Captain

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    Most people don't spend a lot of time discussing things they can't control. So every time I hear someone bring up the next impending environmental catastrophe, I ask them what they are going to do about it, and what changes society should take. I've never heard a logical, coherent, workable solution yet. But since you are a lawyer, maybe you have some solutions? Every "green" person I know, and I'm from the NW so I know a lot, in reality have as large or larger carbon footprints than the non-greenies I know. Not saying humans don't have an impact on their environment, but the "green" cities of Portland and Seattle are extreme polluters and destroyers of the beautiful land. Concrete, steel, black top, horrendous traffic congestion and long commute times.
     
  5. captjohn

    captjohn Captain

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    I think they have been waving the flag on this for about the same amount of time they have been talking about "Climate Change".

    We were all supposed to be gone by now, and the oceans dead, and neither have happened. Always beware of causes that only require lots of money and have doomsday predictions if we don't pay up.
     
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  6. powderpro

    powderpro Captain

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    Environmental discussions always turn political, and politics are banned from this site, so that's why you don't read much about it here. However AOC says in 12 years it's all over for us earthlings if we don't address climate change, so live it up the next 12 years.
     
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  7. Kailua Kid

    Kailua Kid Senior Member

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    David: Probably still unreadable, but at least now not for lack of paragraph breaks. Thank you for the suggestion.
     
  8. Kailua Kid

    Kailua Kid Senior Member

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    Captjohn:

    Exactly: "Carbon," for purposes of my post, is more specifically CO2, Carbon Dioxide, a weak acid, if I understand correctly.

    I take it from the responses to my post so far that the fisheries outside of the Northeastern Pacific are not being affected by the changes in the PH of seawater. I hope what we are seeing out here remains limited to this area, and that it reverses sooner rather than later, naturally or otherwise.

    Thank you for clarifying.
     
  9. Kailua Kid

    Kailua Kid Senior Member

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    Powderpro:

    I have no training, education or expertise that would equip me to hold forth regarding tackling ocean acidification. I hope the seawater PH problem does not get worse, here or elsewhere.

    My observation has been that commercial fishers tend to be more attuned than many, maybe most, to changes in the ocean environment, and as a result, would help me understand whether the problems we are seeing out in Willapa Bay with the oysters, and in the Eastern Pacific generally with regard to krill, plankton, etc. is limited in scope, or more widespread.

    From the responses so far, it seems like the other coasts are less affected by ocean acidification than we are out West here. I hope that remains the case.
     
  10. Genius

    Genius Captain

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  11. restless

    restless Captain

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    As someone who has spent 50+ years fishing around one of the worlds biggest metropolitan areas [ NYC]. I am comfortable saying our emissions are FAR less than they were 40 years ago, and they continue to improve today. In the 70's when you were 25 miles offshore in the summer when the winds were light you didn't need electronics or even a compass to get back to Rockaway Inlet. If you scanned the horizon you would see a distinctive brown smudge on the horizon above NYC. If you steered for the smudge you would come right up on Rockaway Inlet. Today you can't due that because the air is much cleaner and continues to improve.
    If I thought for one minute that it was all going to end in 12 years I would be in my bank on Monday taking out a 30 year mortgage.
     
  12. Keelboater

    Keelboater Captain

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  13. Kailua Kid

    Kailua Kid Senior Member

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    The link below briefly discusses what we are dealing with in the Puget Sound area and in places along our coast. Both NOAA and Woods Hole Oceanographic appear to be actively researching the issue.

    The commercial fisheries here and in Alaska, as well as the shellfish growers on the Washington coast, are being affected by the seawater acidification/Ph changes now. Our commercial fishing publications out here, especially Pacific Fishing, have run articles about the Ph issue and its impact on our fisheries.

    Ocean Acidification - Northwest Fisheries Science Center
     
  14. captjohn

    captjohn Captain

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    Well the Bluefin fishing seems to be getting better, along with lots of bait around so...…..
     
  15. Kailua Kid

    Kailua Kid Senior Member

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    As they say, there are winners and losers in the PH changes. Eel Grass seems to benefit, for example, by the higher acidity. Perhaps Bluefin and their prey also. Let's hope for that.
     
  16. PatriciaLynn

    PatriciaLynn Senior Member

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    KK, the oysters here in Maine are also suffering from ocean acidification. We have seen major problems growing seed oysters and getting them to set on clutch. Clam seed also.

    There will always be naysayers who ride the same old way right till the bitter end (groundfishing in NE) and there will also always be early adopters (Tesla) The good news is that MOST of us are somewhere in the middle. We want to do the right thing, but there isn't a clear answer as to what the right thing is... All forms of power generation have downsides, and all of us want electric lights in our homes, soooo....
     
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