Scientific Method Predicts Ocean Acidification Years in Advance
As the temperature of the globe rises, the ocean acidification events have become rather common. This process endangers millions of species and threatens the delicate balance of the ecosystems. CU Boulder researchers have developed a new scientific method that could help in actually predict ocean acidification up to five years in advance.
This procedure would enable fisheries and communities, depending on seafood negatively affected by ocean acidification, to adapt to changing conditions in real-time, hence improving economic and food security within the next few decades.
Various studies have revealed the ability to predict ocean acidity a few months before the event. However, this is the first study ever to prove that is possible to predict variability in ocean acidity many years prior to the chemical reactions in oceanic water.
Published in Nature Communications, the study says that this new method can predict ocean acidification years in advance and could offer potential to foresee the acceleration and slowdown of the process.
We’ve taken a climate model and run it like you would have a weather forecast, essentially – and the model included ocean chemistry, which is extremely novel.
said Riley Brady, lead author of the study, and a doctoral candidate in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.
The researchers fixated on the California Current System (CCS) for this study, one of four major coastal upwelling systems in the world, which runs from the tip of Baja California in Mexico all the way up to parts of Canada. The system sustains a billion-dollar fisheries industry vital to the U.S. economy.
Brady, who is also a graduate student at the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR), said,
Here, you’ve got physics, chemistry, and biology all connecting to create extremely profitable fisheries, from crabs all the way up to big fish. Making predictions of future environmental conditions one, two, or even three years out is remarkable, because this is the kind of information that fisheries managers could utilize.
The CCS is predominantly susceptible to ocean acidification due to the upsurge of naturally acidic waters to the surface.
The ocean absorbs a large portion of the superfluous carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere emitted from human activity. Regrettably, as a result of absorbing the extra man-induced carbon dioxide, which roughly amounts to 24 million tons every single day, the oceans have become more acidic.
According to the study co-author Nicole Lovenduski, associate professor in atmospheric and oceanic sciences and head of the Ocean Biogeochemistry Research Group at INSTAAR,
The ocean has been doing us a huge favor… Ocean acidification is proceeding at a rate 10 times faster today than any time in the last 55 million years… We expect people in communities who rely on the ocean ecosystem for fisheries, for tourism and for food security to be affected by ocean acidification.
Scientists have feared that within a few decades, the oceans will become completely corrosive for certain organisms, which disables them to form or maintain their shells.
Also Read: We’ve Almost Killed the Great Barrier Reef
Anyhow, CU Boulder researchers capitalized on historical forecasts from a climate model developed at the National Center for Atmosphere research. Testing the practicality of this model, the scientists generated forecasts of the past using the climate model, rather than looking for future events. The model performed quite exceptionally at making predictions of ocean acidity in the actual world.
Such kinds of climate model forecasts need a vast amount of computational power, manpower and time. And though the study presses on acidification in one region of the global ocean, its implications are much larger.
Hopefully, this method would be able to forecast the said events, which could help save many marine ecosystems, especially coral reefs that are deeply devastated by the acidification of oceanic waters.