Ocean acidification discussion thread

by Judith Curry

This thread discusses sections 10.3 and 10.4 in Alan Longhurst’s new book Doubt and Certainty in Climate Science.

The topic of ocean acidification is one for which I don’t have any expertise, beyond following some news items on the topic.  So I found the two sections on ocean acidification in Longhurst’s book to be especially helpful.  Below are some excerpts from these two sections (no italics used here for direct quotations):

10.3  Acidification of sea water – uncertainty levels

One of the major concerns now expressed is that increasing atmospheric CO2 may soon come to affect those marine organisms, large and small, which incorporate carbonate into their exoskeletal structure. Although the dissolution of carbonate  sediments will buffer pH changes by adding alkalinity and so restore some of the buffering/uptake capacity of the oceanic CO2 system, it is the biological effect that has taken our attention and this has been confidently described as an inevitable disaster for marine ecosystems.

The consequences of this process are only now beginning to be understood in all their complexity, and I suggest that doubt and certainty concerning the long-­‐term future of some marine organisms may be appropriate in about equal proportions. These potential problems came to our attention only relatively recently compared with other concerns about changing climate. Until the 2005 Royal Society report on the potential effects of ocean acidification by atmospheric carbon dioxide, no more than a handful of studies on the subject were published annually; subsequently, the floodgates opened and ‘acidification of seawater’ rapidly became headline news. This term, perfectly proper chemically, had been very rarely used previously in this context, and its use has undoubtedly assisted in bringing the issue to our attention. The pH of ocean water is everywhere, and at all depths, higher than 7.0 and therefore basic, and even the most extreme anthropogenic climate change scenarios do not suggest that the pH of ocean water will fall below neutrality, since the reserves of carbonate in the ocean are far too great for that.

But, because ocean surface water is naturally alkaline, atmospheric CO2 does readily pass into solution, at rates determined by the pCO2 gradient and by physical factors including water temperature, wind speed and surface roughness. Of the anthropogenic carbon dioxide that was emitted into the atmosphere during the 19th and 20th centuries, approximately 48% has been dissolved in the oceans, where it is not uniformly distributed. Regions influenced by the formation of deep and intermediate water masses in the North Atlantic dominate the column inventory, yet <10% occurs deeper than 1500 m.

The first consequence of the solution of CO2 in seawater is the formation of carbonic acid, but this immediately dissociates to form bicarbonate. Over geological time scales, this process is buffered by the terrestrial carbonate cycle so that a balance tends to be maintained between carbonate weathering ashore, sedimentation of biogenic carbonates as chalk or limestone in the ocean that has been recorded in several locations.

So, to understand the reactions of marine organisms having carbonate incorporated in the skeletal material to the solution of CO2 in ocean water, we must look not only at changing pH, but also at the ambient level of carbonate saturation of seawater. Decreasing pH may erode skeletal material, and calcite under-­‐saturation may constrain the rate of production of skeletal material, the whole entering a delicate balance. If the rate of change of pH is faster than the rate of equilibrium of carbonate saturation dynamics under-­‐saturation of calcite may result with potentially stressful consequences for calcifying marine organisms; unfortunately, rates of change of pH at present are significantly faster than during periods in the distant past when atmospheric CO2 concentrations increased much more slowly. The faster rate of change in pH in today’s ocean must result in greater relative changes in calcite saturation than during CO2 increases during geological time. This critical observation must be considered carefully when remarking, as is often done, that many extant marine organisms have passed successfully through ancient episodes of high atmospheric CO2 concentrations: it is essential that changing calcite saturation should be considered when predicting the consequences of changing pH of ocean water, otherwise conclusions drawn concerning the consequences of pH changes may not be correct.

Near the surface, we expect to find the highest pH values, with progressively lower values downwards. At the surface of the Pacific, values run from pH 8.05 in the tropics to pH 7.6 in the Gulf of Alaska while, at 1000m in high latitudes and 250m at the equator, water of around pH 7.5 occurs at mid-­‐depths; a similar pattern occurs in the Atlantic, where near-­‐surface water in the Arctic regions reaches pH 8.2 compared with about 7.9 in the African upwelling regions in low latitudes. Near-­‐surface, the pCO2 difference between gas and water phases controls gas CO2 exchange across the surface, while in the interior of the ocean pCO2 values are controlled by respiration and carbonate dissolution.

Some of the alarming reports concerning ‘corrosive sea water have been based on observations of commercial shellfish cultures in which the oysters have failed to produce normal shells; this syndrome has popularly been ascribed to changing pH of ocean water, especially on the Oregon and California coasts. But this is incorrect, because the failure to produce normal shell material is due to very low levels of calcite saturation that results in abnormal calcification of larvae and adult shells that appear to be eroded.  Here, it is not pH that is involved but rather calcite saturation in a usually complicated environmental situation in which river water quality is involved as well as that of coastal sea water. Yet it is likely that it is calcite undersaturation, rather than pH itself that is the principal agent of change in the ecology of small calcifying organisms.

Hermatypic coral reefs in shallow water are commonly presented as one of the most obvious victims of decreasing pH of the oceans, but consider the facts: the daily range of pH experienced by near-­‐surface reef corals should, by this logic, prevent their continued existence – we have long known, but apparently forgotten, that, where water circulation is relatively limited on the reef top of the Great Barrier Reef, “CO2 in the water is depleted by photosynthesis during the hours of daylight, while the O2 content rises to as much as 250% saturation and the pH rises to 8.9. At night, photosynthesis ceases, O2 may fall to as low as 18% saturation and the pH drops to 7.8”.

We now know that although all these dangers are real, and cannot be ignored, the probable outcome is more nuanced than was once thought. The relief (if you can call it that) comes from experimental evidence that shows that the reaction of organisms to low pH water is not as simple and direct as might be assumed from first principles; to some extent, this is due to the fact that populations of organisms tend not to be homogenous genetically, but to include individuals having a rather wide range of potential response to their naturally-­‐variable environment.

Unfortunately, it is not easy to disentangle the effects of pH and calcite saturation from changes in stratification, nutrient availability and temperature during this warm episode. But I think that those who now deeply worried about the observed changes in pH and calcite saturation in today’s ocean might well take some comfort from a reading of the palaeontological literature, into which I have no more than dipped my toe.

10.4 Experimental evidence for acidification effects

The concerned reader may well be excused for being confused by recent studies concerning problems with coral decline on the Great Barrier Reef. The story starts with a study published in 2009 by De’Ath and others who suggested that calcification in massive Porites colonies on the Great Barrier Reef had declined by as much as 14% since 1990, associated with a decline of about the same magnitude in linear colony growth; it was held that this was an unprecedented decline compared with rates over the last 400 years; although the cause was not established, increasing temperature stress and a declining saturation state of aragonite was suspected.590 This report resulted in alarmism at the BBC and local media and the public were assured that “coral growth could hit zero by 2050”. In any case, this result appeared to contradict an earlier study that had concluded that, far from declining, coral growth on the Barrier reef had increased by up to 4% in warm periods of increasing temperature during the 20th century.591

But even more confusing the publication of a later paper by De’Ath, who reported that the decline in growth had really been caused by a 27-­‐year period of strong tropical cyclones (48%), by crown-­‐of-­‐thorns starfish predation (42%), and by bleaching (10%). Associated with this was the good news that the estimated rate of recovery of coral cover in the absence of these factors would be about 3% p.a., and also that in northern regions, where the three destructive factors had minimal effect, there was no significant decline in coral cover.592 In the light of the studies discussed above it would appear that a reduced rate of calcification is, at least at present, a negligible factor in whatever it is that ails Great Barrier Reef corals. It is not helpful to suggest, as some have done, that the Barrier Reef of 2050 will be no more than rubble of carbonate rock.

In the light of the studies discussed above it would appear that a reduced rate of calcification is, at least at present, a negligible factor in whatever it is that ails Great Barrier Reef corals. It is not helpful to suggest, as some have done, that the Barrier Reef of 2050 will be no more than rubble of carbonate rock.

The entire subject of the response of the marine ecosystem to increasing levels of atmospheric CO2 is in such an early stage of investigation that I believe it is not yet possible to achieve any level of certainty about what the future holds for the marine ecosystem, but one has to conclude that alarmism is premature. It seems clear from these few examples of recent studies that our opinion on the consequences for marine biota of increasing ocean acidification should be more nuanced than it was 10-­‐15 years ago.

Fortunately, we now have an increasing body of experimental evidence for large marine organisms, done at realistic pH levels, that suggests two major conclusions.598 First, as noted above, adult fish appear to be little affected by water of rather low pH although there do appear to be serious but subtle consequences for brain function and hence behaviour pattern. This has mostly been investigated in tropical reef teleosts, relatively easy to handle experimentally, among which responses to olfactory, optical and auditory stimuli have been found to become inappropriate: cues for larval settlement, for prey and for predator recognition, and for habitat landscape may be misinterpreted. These are subtle effects, in a variety of species, for which failure of a single receptor function in the brain is shown to be responsible.

But, once again, one must recognise that these findings are all based on relatively short-­‐term experimentation and that they deliver no prediction of the probability that species may evolve an appropriate response, by selection of genotypes from the existing range, if the pH of ambient water changes as slowly as it is doing in the ocean at the present time. In fact, there is some evidence, reported by Branch et al., to support that this suggestion; when adults of the shore fish Amphiprion melanopus are exposed to near-­‐future levels of CO2, their young show reduced size and growth rate when grown at similar levels, but this is not the case for the young of adults that have been exposed to very high CO2 levels: epigenetic changes in gene expression would appear to be responsible for this result.

But if one thing is sure in climate science, it is that without a global economic meltdown or pandemic, atmospheric CO2 will continue to increase and the pH of ocean water will continue to change accordingly: to count on anything else is to put too much credence on the common-­‐sense of the human animal. And of all the topics that I have reviewed for this book, it is the consequences of the changes in ocean pH and calcite saturation that will accompany the inevitable increase in atmospheric CO2 that are the most worrying, and the most likely to cause consequences to biota. I do not venture to suggest what these consequences will be, although I agree with the comment from a reliable source that “we are entering an unknown territory of marine ecosystem change”.

JC comments

I find these sections on ocean acidification to be an invaluable reference.  Please confine your discussion to topics raised in Chapter 10.

 

223 responses to “Ocean acidification discussion thread

  1. The first consequence of the solution of CO2 in seawater is the formation of carbonic acid, but this immediately dissociates to form bicarbonate.

    Actually, this is a rather slow process except in the presence of carbonic anhydrase. Fortunately, AFAIK, soluble forms are released by lysis of many cells, and others have forms bound to the outside of their cell walls.

    • It’s slow on the metabolic timescale, but fast enough on the scale of months or years of ocean processes. And it isn’t even clear that CO2 needs to be hydrated before reacting with carbonate.

      • Here is Stokes with his winning argument Willard, this little interesting interactive chart was the result of that particular discussion. I thank you Nick, for that chart.

      • > Here is Stokes with his winning argument Willard […]

        That’s great news, Planet. Please refer to the text:

        The water that lies below 140m in the California Current has pH values <7.7 (compared with oceanic surface water of pH 8.0) and has an aragonite saturation state of <1.0 so that, after each upwelling episode such values may be found on the narrow shelf and even near shore. Accordingly, the title of a Science paper evoked the upwelling of “corrosive” seawater at this coast and it was accompanied by a NOAA press release that can only be described as alarmist. Of course, in the strictest sense this term is correct, because there is evidence that seawater of pH as low as this may erode the carbonate shells of some molluscs and other marine invertebrates, so the word can be justified.

        The (uncited) NOAA press release has been transformed into “alarming reports” three paragraphs later. The Science paper has not been identified. Here’s the title of a candidate:

        Evidence for upwelling of corrosive “acidified” water onto the Continental Shelf

        http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/pubs/outstand/feel3087/feel3087.shtml

        The authors are Richard A. Feely, Christopher L. Sabine, J. Martin Hernandez-Ayon, Debby Ianson, and Burke Hales.

        I’ve heard good words about Feely recently.

      • Well Golly we agree Willard. If we keep dumping CO2 into the ocean and the biota does not process, why then we are in trouble.

        Placed out of place earlier.

    • “The first consequence of the solution of CO2 in seawater is the formation of carbonic acid, but this immediately dissociates to form bicarbonate.
      Actually, this is a rather slow process”

      Well, only if you consider 26 milliseconds to be “slow”:

      New paper finds carbonic acid (blamed for ‘ocean acidification’) only lasts 26 milliseconds before forming bicarbonate buffer:

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150616131621.htm

      The buffering capability in comparison to the CO2 0.04% content of the atmosphere is negligible. The oceans hold 50 more times more CO2 “equivalent” than the atmosphere. Once again, the tail does not wag the dog.

      The evidence that pH has decreased from 8.2 to 8.1 over the modern era is very dicey, exceeds errors, and is not truly statistically significant. Ever try to calibrate a modern pH meter to 0.1pH accuracy? it’s STILL not easy, much less a century ago. And proxies of pH are VERY inaccurate.

      Worst/best of all,
      “Near the surface, we expect to find the highest pH values, with progressively lower values downwards. At the surface of the Pacific, values run from pH 8.05 in the tropics to pH 7.6 in the Gulf of Alaska while, at 1000m in high latitudes and 250m at the equator, water of around pH 7.5 occurs at mid-­‐depths; a similar pattern occurs in the Atlantic, where near-­‐surface water in the Arctic regions reaches pH 8.2 compared with about 7.9 in the African upwelling regions in low latitudes. Near-­‐surface, the pCO2 difference between gas and water phases controls gas CO2 exchange across the surface, while in the interior of the ocean pCO2 values are controlled by respiration and carbonate dissolution.”

      This is essentially proving that temperature dominates Henry’s Law to stratify pH by temperature, dominating over pCO2 concentrations, proven by many many papers from lakes to the world’s oceans.

      Temperature thus dominates by far over atmospheric pCO2 and is the dominant control over both oceanic/atmospheric ingassing/outgassing/pCO2s, not to mention T LEADS CO2 on all timescales short, medium, long. The cause does not follow the effect.

      • Actually, I guess I wasn’t clear. It’s the conversion between CO2 and carbonic acid (or carbonate) that’s fairly slow, absent CA. Obviously (to me), once the hydroxide groups (of carbonic acid) are formed no catalysis is needed for dissociation. This is one of the basics of water-based chemistry. (Although it’s more complex than that in general, since it’s only hydroxides on a carbon atom with more than one C-O bond where the kinetics of dissociation are such. Even in a hydrated aldehyde such as ring-stabilized sugars, IIRC, dissociation tends to be slow.)

        From a randomly chosen reference from near the top of a Google search

        Whereas the lifetime of CO2 against attack by solvent water to form H+ and HCO3- is about half a minute, and is the dominant inter-conversion mechanism below pH 10, the addition of 2×10^-5 M of enzyme (0.06 % by weight) reduces the lifetime for the conversion of CO2 to HCO to ~10^-3s at pH 8. This rapid action leads to an assortment of paradoxes when one attempts to model the system[7-10]. If, for example, it is assumed that the enzyme catalyses the attack of CO2 by water and that the products of the reaction, H+ and HCO3-, are released independently, then in order for the protons to diffuse away from the enzyme molecules at a rate commensurate with the observed CO2 hydration rate, the concentration of H within a 20Å neighborhood of the enzyme would have to build up excessively, and lower the pH to ~4-5, in order to produce the concentration gradients necessary to drive the diffusion. Moreover, the enzyme is known to be inactive, and in fact unstable, at so low a pH. Conversely, the dehydration reaction (HCO3- + H+ → H2O + CO2) is observed to proceed at a rate which requires that protons be supplied to an enzyme molecule at a rate 100-fold faster than they can be transported by diffusion. If, on the other hand, it is assumed that the enzyme catalyses the attack of CO2 by OH-, analogous arguments can be made regarding the limitations set by diffusion of OH-. Additionally, it is difficult to reconcile the latter assumption with the observed n.m.r. relaxation of solvent protons[11] and Cl- anions[12] by the CO2+-substituted enzyme[7], which is essentially identical in activity with the native zinc enzyme.

        The long lifetime in uncatalysed water (about half a minute) may not be important for global CO2 calculations, since (as I mentioned above) reasonable amounts of CA are present in surface sea water. But it’s very important in trying to design, or project reference designs for, systems of CO2 capture. CA is a biological product that almost certainly must be provided, and provided for, in the design of standard temperature systems for transferring ambient CO2/carbonate to separation technology.

        (This is why sea-surface extraction of carbonates is likely, IMO, to be developed as a workable technology sooner than free air extraction. Systems such as the use of bipolar membranes) actually work on carbonate, which is freely exchangeable through dissociation with carbonic acid, but not with CO2. Air capture systems would thus have to include CA, and mechanisms for maintaining its presence against normal degradation, while sea-surface systems could rely on the ocean surface itself for this function.)

        The point is also important in understanding biological CO2 extraction systems: AFAIK both common enzymes for carbon fixation actually work on the CO2 molecule rather than the carbonate (see, e.g. here: “First Step: CO2 adds to enediol form of RuBPi
        (not HCO2- or lysine-NH-CO2-!)”).

        This becomes especially important when trying to design genetic engineering approaches to improving carbon fixation. For instance, the carbon-concentrating mechanisms present in many cyanobacteria, which contain fixed CA within small protein structures that include ATP-powered carbonate pumps, might be introduced into the chloroplasts of non-C4 crops such as rice. (There are actually projects underway for this, although they seem rather “bleeding-edge” to me.)

  2. And of all the topics that I have reviewed for this book, it is the consequences of the changes in ocean pH and calcite saturation that will accompany the inevitable increase in atmospheric CO2 that are the most worrying, and the most likely to cause consequences to biota.

    IMO the direct effects of increased pCO2 on the ecosystem are at least as “worrying”, probably more.

    CO2 is plant food.

    • In this case shouldn’t you be showing ocean plants

      • Darn, I picked the wrong plant?

      • Population: Posidonia oceanica is abundant in the Mediterranean, however there is evidence that the population is declining in the western Mediterranean. Several local studies have shown serious declines in P. oceanica meadows. However, accurate data are generally very localised and are lacking for many parts of the Mediterranean. Therefore, cases of observed regression are not representative of the region as a whole. Relatively healthy P. oceanica meadows, whose limits have changed little since the 1950s, can thrive in highly developed areas. In some areas, there is evidence of recolonization by P. oceanica after the human impact ceased or was reduced, but the process of recolonization is extremely slow, i.e. a few centimetres per year (Pergent-Martini et al. 1995). Considering all Mediterranean seagrass species area combined, Jackson et al. (2006) estimated total losses at 446 km² over the last 100 years. A recent study looking at the population status of six Mediterranean P. oceanica areas showed positive population dynamics in some localities for all studied parameters (González-Correa et al. 2007). It is estimated that the overall decline in area for P. oceanica is less than 10% (Thomas et al. 2005) over three generation lengths (100 years), and declines have mainly occurred near urban areas (Boudouresque et al. 2006).
        Current Population Trend: DECREASING

      • Now, compare that to Kudzu

        Kudzu looks innocent enough yet this semi-woody vine grows out of control quickly. It spreads through runners (stems that root at the tip when in contact with moist soil), rhizomes and by vines that root at the nodes to form new plants. Although the plant does seed, it does not reproduce as quickly in this matter. Once established, kudzu grows at a rate of one foot per day with mature vines as long as 100 feet. Known as “mile-a-minute” and “the vine that ate the South”, kudzu can easily overtake trees, abandoned homes, cars and telephone poles. Need proof? Check out Georgian Jack Anthony’s collection of Kudzu-covered images.

        Kudzu can out-grow and out-compete native plants and ruin entire forested areas. Efforts to control and manage this invasive plant are necessary in order to ensure that Indiana is not overrun by kudzu like in the South. […]

        Though many will agree that the blooms of kudzu plants (above) are mighty pretty, the upheaval it may cause to the rest of your garden isn’t. Kudzus are known as an invasive for a reason; please do not sell, buy or grow kudzu or any other invasive plants.

        As far as we know, kudzu is invasive primarily because its predators and competition were left behind when it was transported here.

        But don’t forget, plants differ in their ability to make effective use of increased pCO2, and a native plant that is normally under control might easily turn to a kudzu-like demon when the pCO2 crosses a certain tipping point.

        Of course, the probability of this happening with any single population (“species”) is very small. But there’s a very large number of possible populations. Think of calculus, the way a ratio can stay finite, go to zero, or go to infinity as the size of the interval is reduced, and the number of intervals increased. It’s the same here. AFAIK there’s no way to predict the overall probability that some population of plants will go demonic with increasing pCO2. It could be minuscule, it could be almost certain, it could be anywhere in-between.

      • I wonder why the ethanol tax gatherers don’t use kudzu instead of corn?

      • One of Kudzu’s little friends appears to have joined it:Stinky Kudzu Bug Invades South

        As if kudzu, the invasive “vine that ate the South,” weren’t trouble enough, one of its little friends from Asia has joined it in the United States.

        The kudzu bug, known formally as Megacopta cribraria, is a type of stinkbug that feeds the kudzu vine in its native Asia. While the invading vine is its favorite meal, the bug also attacks soybeans, and as it spreads from Georgia to neighboring states, there are fears it will broaden its palate and target other legume crops, including peanuts.

        […]

        The bug’s arrival has more-worrisome implications for agriculture, however. A small soybean seedling can have 40 bugs feeding on it, according to Wayne Gardner, a professor of entomology at the University of Georgia who is looking for ways to control the new arrival’s population.

        In addition to soybeans, the bug has been found on green beans and wisteria, and Gardner is concerned its tastes will broaden. The key to the bug’s broad palate is a bacterium living in its guts. Known as an endosymbiont, it helps them digest their meals.

        “Will the endosymbiotic bacterium adjust to other plants we have in southeast Georgia? I would be willing to bet it probably can or will evolve, so I am concerned about other legumes, one of those being peanuts,” Gardner said.

        One of the things about evolution, especially in “species” with small body size and potentially explosive populations, is that the rate of mutation within a population depends on the size of that population. If a bug undergoes a tremendous population explosion, such as the Kudzu Bug or insects dependent on other suddenly expansive species, the chance of a very-low-probability mutation that adapts it for a different role can grow from essentially zero to some significant number. And once the mutation occurs, there’s a good chance a new, divergent population will arise that can feed on one or more of our crops.

        Another important point to consider is that, for a small insect to acquire a new endo-symbiont, a relatively minor mutation may be sufficient. The symbiont itself may already exist, in partnership with other types of insect.

  3. I downloaded Longhurst’s book and have started to read it. Seem to be well-researched and overall is well written.

    George Devries Klein, PhD, PG, FGSA

  4. I guest posted on this in Shell Games. Leftt out the more complicated coral stuff referenced in essay of same title in the ebook. Everything Alan is saying is borne out. Everything the warminist alarmists say is basically not true.
    And, I would trust his biological oceanographic expertise far more than my own simple ‘Arts of Truth’ research–even though we appear to agree.

    • Rud, Does it include this part:

      And of all the topics that I have reviewed for this book, it is the consequences of the changes in ocean pH and calcite saturation that will accompany the inevitable increase in atmospheric CO2 that are the most worrying, and the most likely to cause consequences to biota. I do not venture to suggest what these consequences will be, although I agree with the comment from a reliable source that “we are entering an unknown territory of marine ecosystem change”.

    • “I would trust his biological oceanographic expertise “
      Yes, he clearly knows a lot more about this than about temperature measurement. One point to note about “ocean acidification”:
      “This term, perfectly proper chemically”

      He has the right idea about the reactions, unlike those who rely on dictionaries for their chemistry. He says:
      “it is essential that changing calcite saturation should be considered when predicting the consequences of changing pH of ocean water”

      Yes, calcite (and carbonate) is what matters, not pH. But the fact is that one molecule of CO2 added essentially removes on molecule of calcite (or potential molecule, based on CO3–).

      “But if one thing is sure in climate science, it is that without a global economic meltdown or pandemic, atmospheric CO2 will continue to increase and the pH of ocean water will continue to change accordingly”

      True, but it has actually nothing to do with climate science.

      • richardswarthout

        Nick Stokes

        “Yes, he clearly knows a lot more about this than about temperature measurement.”

        On the previous post I wrote that a summary of chapter 4 could be:

        1. The global temperature index provides little useful information about the earth’s climate.

        2. There is not a single authoritative index; we don’t know what the global surface temperatures are or what they have been.

        Do you disagree? Do you think that there is a single authoritative index is and that it provides useful information about the earth’s climate?

        Regards,

        Richard

      • “Do you think that there is a single authoritative index is and that it provides useful information about the earth’s climate?”

        Well, there’s TempLS :) And yes, it does.

        But the fact is, there are several well-regarded indices, and they tell the same story for surface temperatures. We get many thousands of readings each month; good information can be extracted.

      • davideisenstadt

        hey nick:
        why didn’t you take a swing at richard’s first statement?
        clearly you read it; do you disagree with it (reprinted below for your convenience)?
        “1. The global temperature index provides little useful information about the earth’s climate.”
        the world waits.

      • richardswarthout

        Nick Stokes

        Do you not agree with the following statement of Longhurst (pg 85):

        “The consequence of these different procedures and assumptions is that the two principal operational data archives offer different interpretations of the progression of global warming during the 20th century over the continents. There is a very clear difference between what the Goddard and Hadley archives tell us about the progress of global warming during the 20th century and beyond: GITEMP 5-­‐year mean data have a slope of R = 0.804, while the CRUTEM data show only an R = 0.789 slope.”

        Richard

      • Richard,
        I’ve no idea what those figures actually mean – time periods? Units? But no, I don’t think the difference between 0.804 and 0.789 is “very clear”. I think it is very small.

        He’s complaining about the lesser coverage of Hadcrut 3. So did Cowtan and Way, more constructively. But typically, he omits the simple remedy now available of looking at HADCRUT4, which improved the matter.

      • ““1. The global temperature index provides little useful information about the earth’s climate.”

        It depends on what you want to do. It’s useful for policy. Its useful for testing GCMs. There are plenty of uses.

      • @NS: Richard, I’ve no idea what those figures actually mean – time periods? Units? But no, I don’t think the difference between 0.804 and 0.789 is “very clear”. I think it is very small.

        I had pretty much the same reaction, Nick.

        If Diogenes were alive today he’d be looking for a climate skeptic able to preach convincingly to more than just the choir.

  5. burnettvending

    Thankyou – this was most informative

  6. Curious George

    Loosely related – there is a big chemical factory in Lovosice, Czech Republic, on river Elbe. In the communist era the river got badly polluted. Surprisingly enough, some fish survived, but they became inedible. Local fishermen took many pictures with a record-size catch, before throwing the fish (probably happy to be out of that water even temporarily) back in the river.

    Don’t underestimate the adaptability of individual organisms, or whole ecosystems. That’s what the evolution is about.

    • Absolutely. Abrupt climate change produces winners and losers. The winners are better off but don’t create new species in the short term, the only change in the number of species is that caused by the losers. That’s what evolution is about when major and minor mass extinctions are taken into account.

  7. This is a great first topic to explore in some detail. It seems to be in Longhurst’s wheel house as a biological oceanographer.

    Seems to me that overall his treatment is even handed and objective.

    My take away is that he ha still doubt that increased CO2 emissions will be reflected in ocean water chemistry. But whether this will be good, bad or indifferent is one big question mark. The precautionary principle in spades.

    I am struggling a bit with the magnitude of the potential effect when compared to man’s other impacts from dumping our wastes into the waters, deforestation, and forest fires and man made heat island effects. I mean, crap, there are some consequences to our being here and we aren’t going away.

    • Should have said (damned auto correct):

      My take away is that there is little doubt that increased CO2 emissions will be reflected in ocean water chemistry. But whether this will be good, bad or indifferent is one big question mark. The precautionary principle in spades.

    • Before you leap to any conclusions concerning mans “dumping our wastes” into the ocean; first recall that there are 343,423,668,428,484,681,262 gallons of water in the oceans. The amount of oil from the BP oil spill is peanuts compared to that.

      • You’re preaching to the choir jim2. My gut feel ( as a physical oceanographer/ engineer) is that none of these (except maybe deforestation) are likely game changers.

        I’ve made the same point re. the BP oil spill many times.

        Peace, brother!

      • jim2,

        FYI, I spent 2 years on site on the cleanup and response to the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989 and 1990 as an Exxon manager.

        Have I got stories for you!

      • Sorry, Mark. I should have remembered that about you or looked it up. I’m not saying we should dump stuff in the ocean with wild abandon, BTW. But stuff happens from time to time. IMO, it’s no reason to shut down modern life with its creature comforts as we now enjoy.

      • While the BP and Exxon spills may not be in and of themselves equal the volume of water in “the oceans”, let’s not forget how much water flows thru the system and what that water carries with it. The Mississippi by itself flows about 1.6 gps (gallons per second) and it’s only the 4th largest: http://www.nps.gov/miss/riverfacts.htm

        Defining ‘wastes’ would be an important part of this conversation. Covering some 2300 miles of ‘watershed drainage’ involves a lot of waste: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mississippi_River
        and it’s only one river: http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/1987/ofr87-242/

      • The amount of oil from the BP oil spill is peanuts compared to that.

        Not from the point of view of bluefin tuna larvae. This species has been an economically important species for millennia. Adult bluefin tuna are very large endothermic fish with amazingly effective thermal insulation that allows them to roam over a wide range of latitudes extending up to Canada. Their tiny larvae however can only survive in warm water and so Atlantic bluefin tuna head for the ideally circulating warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico to spawn. This brings them right into the region polluted by the BP oil spill. The oil causes the hearts of the larvae to swell and they die. This is only “peanuts” from the point of view of those who would die if they ate peanuts.

      • That’s just more Pratt prattle. Take your scare tactics elsewhere. Here are the facts, my emphasis.
        From the article:

        Taking effect in January, the rules forbid the use of miles-long fishing lines in areas of the gulf and off the coast of Cape Hatteras, N.C., during certain sensitive periods for Atlantic bluefin tuna. Anglers may still catch the tuna using other types of gear.

        Although bluefin are not considered an endangered species by federal scientists, their future is viewed with concern and they are the focus of international conservation efforts. The fish — giants weighing hundreds of pounds and measuring as long as 6 feet — sell for thousands of dollars, mostly to feed the worldwide market for sushi.

        http://www.nola.com/outdoors/index.ssf/2014/12/bluefin_tuna_getting_new_prote.html

      • And more for your Pratt prattle. You are part of a conspiracy to bilk the public’s money from them for this fake global warming scare. We will have to ensure your name is on the RICO suit when the citizens wise up. From the article.

        ANNUAL HARVEST
        More than half the global catch of bluefin tuna comes from the eastern and western Atlantic Ocean. ICCAT implemented harvest quotas for the western Atlantic bluefin tuna stock in 1982, and since then catch has been relatively stable. In 2013, U.S. commercial and recreational fishermen caught 659 metric tons of western Atlantic bluefin tuna (landings and dead discards). U.S. catch comprised 44 percent of total western Atlantic bluefin tuna catch and 4.4 percent of Atlantic-wide bluefin tuna catch (including the Mediterranean Sea) in 2013.

        http://www.fishwatch.gov/seafood_profiles/species/tuna/species_pages/atl_bluefin_tuna.htm

      • jim2, I said that bluefin tuna larvae in the Gulf of Mexico were adversely impacted by the oil spill. Your argument against this made no mention of either larvae or the Gulf of Mexico. That’s like arguing that beer is bad for you because chocolate is. There’s no connection.

        It would have been great if you’d said something that made logical sense. Instead all you did was to selectively quote some articles. Anyone can selectively quote articles, let me demonstrate.

        “Bluefin once roamed the entire Atlantic Ocean but excessive fishing in their concentration areas has already forced the South Atlantic population into extinction as recorded in ICCAT’s latest stock assessment, below. This population spawned off the northeastern coast of Brazil (in the area of highest catches) at the same time and in the same general area as do South Atlantic blue marlin, white marlin and swordfish. None of these fish interbreed with their North Atlantic populations because spawning, which for all of them occurs in the spring, occurs in the Southern Hemisphere in November-December – 6 months later than north of the Equator. Within just 10 years of the introduction of longlines by the Japanese about 1960, this bluefin population which surely ranged throughout the South Atlantic had been extirpated and has not been caught there in 40 years.”

        http://www.bigmarinefish.com/bluefin.html

        So, jim2, you’re right that this species of bluefin tuna is not endangered. That’s because it’s already extinct.

        Which is where the north Atlantic BFT’s are headed today.

      • Unlike jim2 however, I don’t believe in one-sided quoting. Here’s a quote in support of Atlantic BFT’s north of the equator. (The fact that the western and eastern stocks mix was first noticed by our lab at the Hopkins Marine Station.)

        “Finally, because the western and eastern stocks mix, western Atlantic bluefin are also affected by fishing pressure in the eastern Atlantic. There was rampant overfishing in the eastern Atlantic/Mediterranean during the 1990s and early 2000s. However, in recent years, catches in the eastern Atlantic have been reduced to levels consistent with scientific advice, and new monitoring and control measures have been adopted to address illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing on that stock. Scientists advise that improved stock conservation in the eastern Atlantic would likely benefit the western stock as well.”

        http://www.fishwatch.gov/seafood_profiles/species/tuna/species_pages/atl_bluefin_tuna.htm

      • Mr. Pratt. Thanks for the confirmation that blue fin tuna were not demonstrably affected by the BP oil spill. Couldn’t have done a better job myself.

      • @jim2: Thanks for the confirmation that blue fin tuna were not demonstrably affected by the BP oil spill.

        Sorry, jim2, but what I quoted doesn’t confirm it at all. First it only says that “catches in the eastern Atlantic have been reduced to levels consistent with scientific advice” which says nothing about actual BFT populations. Second that assessment was made at about the time of the Deepwater Horizons spill. And third, those larvae impacted by the spill take several years to grow into adult tuna.

        The passage I quoted implies nothing whatsoever about the impact of the spill on North Atlantic BFT populations.

        Logic like yours has hanged the innocent for millennia.

      • Mr. Pratt. It has been 5 years already. You haven’t supplied one shred of evidence that blue fin tuna have been impacted at all by the oil spill. You just prattle on.

  8. > Some of the alarming reports concerning ‘corrosive sea water have been based on observations of commercial shellfish cultures in which the oysters have failed to produce normal shells; this syndrome has popularly been ascribed to changing pH of ocean water, especially on the Oregon and California coasts.

    Where’s the citation to these alarming reports?

    Is ‘corrosive supposed to be between scare quotes?

    • Duh, read the original chapter for the citations.

      • I would not have asked without checking first, Judy. Have you?

        Perhaps you or a Denizen can provide the citation for that “Science paper” in the text, or give the complete statement the author finds “curious,” and where we can find it in the original text. Perhaps you also know to which “alarming reports” (notice the plural) the Author refers to with complete citations in the text if possible. Are you able to say if the author’s accusation targets the lichurchur only or any other kind of reports?

        Citation checks are in order.

      • “Loneliness, loneliness is such a waste of time, o-oh yeah.”—–Solomon Burke, Cry to Me, 1962

      • Thanks, Planet. Howeverm it’s not the Science paper, which may be this one:

        http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/pubs/outstand/feel3087/feel3087.shtml

        Tough to know if that’s the one the Author had in mind, since (1) it’s not cited in the text; (2) it’s cited by W15, the authority in note 577, but not related to their claim that studies have shown that, in general, shelled molluscs are particularly sensitive to these changes in marine chemistry; (3) Feely, the lead author of that Science article, is also cited favorably in note 576.

        ***

        Moreover, there are 9 occurences of “corrosive” in F08. For instance, we can read in conclusion:

        These observations clearly show that seasonal upwelling processes enhance the advancement of the corrosive deep water into broad regions of the North American western continental shelf. Because the region experiences seasonal periods of enhanced aragonite undersaturation, it is important to understand how the indigenous organisms deal with this exposure and whether future increases in the range and intensity of the corrosiveness will affect their survivorship.

        This does not look like an alarming report to me.

        ***

        Besides, here’s the abstract of W15:

        Ocean acidification is a global, long-term problem whose ultimate solution requires carbon dioxide reduction at a scope and scale that will take decades to accomplish successfully. Until that is achieved, feasible and locally relevant adaptation and mitigation measures are needed. To help to prioritize societal responses to ocean acidification, we present a spatially explicit, multidisciplinary vulnerability analysis of coastal human communities in the United States. We focus our analysis on shelled mollusc harvests, which are likely to be harmed by ocean acidification. Our results highlight US regions most vulnerable to ocean acidification (and why), important knowledge and information gaps, and opportunities to adapt through local actions. The research illustrates the benefits of integrating natural and social sciences to identify actions and other opportunities while policy, stakeholders and scientists are still in relatively early stages of developing research plans and responses to ocean acidification.

        http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v5/n3/abs/nclimate2508.html

        This does not sound like a refutation of Feely’s studies.

      • Feely is the guy with a long history so you would be remiss to dismiss his opinion. Nic Stokes and another had an interesting discussion about the chemistry used in that paper.

      • I think I found the real W15:

        Ocean acidification results in co-varying inorganic carbon system variables. Of these, an explicit focus on pH and organismal acid–base regulation has failed to distinguish the mechanism of failure in highly sensitive bivalve larvae. With unique chemical manipulations of seawater we show definitively that larval shell development and growth are dependent on seawater saturation state, and not on carbon dioxide partial pressure or pH. Although other physiological processes are affected by pH, mineral saturation state thresholds will be crossed decades to centuries ahead of pH thresholds owing to nonlinear changes in the carbonate system variables as carbon dioxide is added.Our findings were repeatable for two species of bivalve larvae[,] could resolve discrepancies in experimental results, are consistent with a previous model of ocean acidification impacts due to rapid calcification in bivalve larvae, and suggest a fundamental ocean acidification bottleneck at early life-history for some marine keystone species.

        http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v5/n3/full/nclimate2479.html

        The first article has been found by putting the string of note 577 in my search bar. However, the page number and the first author did not coincide. I found the correct article by browsing using the carousel functionality of the website, i.e. the arrow at the right of the page. Searching otherwise gave nothing.

        A working URL or a DOI would have saved some man-minutes here. OTOH, it may have prevented me from finding the Science article with the “corrosive” word.

        ***

        Note that the authors conclude that this bottleneck idea is repeated at the end of the analysis of their experiment results:

        [A]lthough seawater pH effects on organismal acidosis may also be at work during this early larval stage, we have experimentally shown that any pH effect is overwhelmed by the impact of saturation state during initial shell formation. The likelihood of organisms experiencing such low pH conditions without coinciding low-Ω conditions is also very unlikely (Fig. 1 and Supplementary Table 1). Therefore, the conclusions from this study do not contradict the importance of pH on marine bivalve larvae, but rather highlight the overwhelming significance of saturation state at this critical bottleneck for bivalve larvae.

        As I only dipped my toe, this conclusion brings me comfort.

        ***

        I note that “erod” does not seem to appear in the real W15, so I’m not sure how the Author can use W15 as an authority to claim about adult shells. Neither does the word “undersaturation” appears. Finally, it’s quite clear that the authors of W15 do not minimize the importance of pH on marine bivalve larvae.

      • > Feely is the guy with a long history so you would be remiss to dismiss his opinion.

        Since Feely’s the guy who wrote an article in Science with the word “corrosive” in the title, Planet, I may not be the one to whom your remark should be directed.

      • No need to be corrosive Willard, I stopped by to help you out, not that you need help. Depends on the meaning of help I suppose.

      • Refer to all the papers you want Willard.

        When I asked Dr Feely if it was possible to distinguish a CO2 molecule that was atmospheric in source from one that was from the ocean depths, the answer was of course no.

        We don’t have a clue how much the waters off the PNW are impacted by increasing concentration of atmospheric CO2, because we can’t accurately measure the amount from ocean upwelling.

        Here is a clue Willard. What are oyster producers doing in WA?

        I’ll save you the effort. They ship the larvae to Hawaii for the first few weeks of their lives. Once they have developed their shell they are not impacted by swings in pH.

        So why is ocean acidification a problem in WA and not in Hawaii? It’s the same atmosphere, right?

      • Have you asked these other leading questions to Feely too, timg?

        How about your appeals to ignorance?

        In fact, have you directed him to Sir Rud’s shell game?

        Many thanks!

      • Right,
        Leading questions Willard. In this case, leading a donkey to water. But we all know one can’t make that donkey drink.

        Again Willard. Why is ocean acidification a problem in WA and not Hawaii? That is as about as straight forward a question as one can ask.

  9. Longhurst writes much more clearly here in his area of specialty. That indicates he has a limited understanding of the other chapters and sections where the writing is convoluted.

    • Speaking of areas of specialty, an ecouraging remark:

      I think that those who now deeply worried about the observed changes in pH and calcite saturation in today’s ocean might well take some comfort from a reading of the palaeontological literature, into which I have no more than dipped my toe.

      I don’t always seek comfort in the lichurchur, but when I do, I only need to dip my toe.

  10. Upwelling is mentioned once, but CO2-rich upwelling happens often in many places. This should be regularly exposing many creatures to interesting environments.

  11. Nothing about ocean plant life, like kelp and phytoplankton?

  12. When you consider the ocean is infinitely buffered, ‘acidification’ makes as much sense as ‘pregnification’: you either is or you isn’t.

  13. ” Of the anthropogenic carbon dioxide that was emitted into the atmosphere during the 19th and 20th centuries, approximately 48% has been dissolved in the oceans, ”

    Say what?

    • Current ocean uptake is net 1.6 GtC per the IPCC Carbon cycle.

      This 1.6 GtC represents about 1/8 of current human emissions per year. Current human emissions are far greater than they have ever been historically. Human emissions are 3% of the Carbon cycle. We toss in our chit and it is never seen again. We have no way to trace our contribution (don’t even think about isotopes, soils produce six times human production with an identical signature).

      48% of human emissions since 1850 have NOT been dissolved in the oceans!

      • Well, that budget is an estimate.

        CO2 is more prevalent in the deeper, colder ocean than the surface ( uptake by biota, but increased solubility in colder water ). So uptake may take place at a much greater rate in very small areas of polar sea ice polynyas – consequently poorly measured.

      • Of course it’s an estimate. The point is that unless it is off by an order of magnitude (which would pit it at more than the total humans produce), you’re not going to project that back through far lower earlier human production and get anywhere near 48% of historic human production in the oceans.

      • 48% of human emissions since 1850 have NOT been dissolved in the oceans!

        And Rob Starkey accuses me of meaningless comments.

        So, what, 47.9%? 30%? 48.1%? 60%

        How about saying something meaningful here?

        Or at least defining what you mean. Some of the CO2 increase is attributable to the warmer sea surface driving out CO2 from the ocean. Are you counting that in your definition of “human emissions”?

      • The about 5ppm increase in atmospheric CO2 since 1850 according to Henry’s law and ocean warming is not included and is not the issue.

        The statement was that 48% of historic human emissions are already in the oceans. I’m saying it’s nowhere near that. The issue is reduction in ocean pH.

        Clear so far?

        Pretty sure the 48% figure is derived from the observation that total atmospheric CO2 is only growing half as fast as human emissions. The inference is that all the rest is going in the ocean.

        My points are that the the total current net flux from the atmosphere to the ocean according to the IPCC is less than 16% of human of current human emissions and that there are huge preferential sinks for isotopically light CO2 on land.

        It is difficult to see any scenario where 48% of historic human CO2 is in the oceans. It’s complicated. Coal emissions in Europe in the 1800’s were carried by the westerlies over Eurasia, Coal burned in China today over the ocean.

        Not going to puff up and toss out some WAG number for the specious certainty it implies. That would be having my head up my maths.Leaving that for the 48% folks.

        If that makes my comment meaningless, so be it.

      • @gymno: The statement was that 48% of historic human emissions are already in the oceans. I’m saying it’s nowhere near that.

        Evidence is mixed. Here’s Figure 5 from Sarmiento et al 2010.

        It’s not at all obvious that the dark blue area labeled “Ocean sink” is “nowhere near” 48% of the orange area labeled “Fossil fuel emissions”.

        But things can change in four years. Here’s Figure C1 (page 3468) from Raupach et al 2014:

        In this plot the dark blue area labeled “Ocean sink” looks like about a quarter of “Fossil fuel emissions”.

        For the explanation of the violently wiggling green line between “Land sink” and “Atmospheric accumulation”, which does not appear in the first figure above (Figure 5), see the article. Very interesting stuff.

      • Vaughan, I’m in the middle of harvest right now and lack the time and energy to seriously delve into this.Promise, I will read those links when time permits.
        In the meantime, back of the envelope order of magnitude calculations can be helpful.

        It is very clear that current human emissions are but 3% of the Carbon cycle. Ask Ferdinand. Ask anyone who has worked on this.

        Evaporation from the oceans fractionates 12C very strongly, on the order of -10 PDB to the atmosphere and +10 to the oceans. This is because evaporation, photosynthesis, and virtually all chemical processes that do physical work prefer less weight.

        Absorption into the oceans is the reverse as gravity aids the heavier isotope and the net is about +2 to the atmosphere and -2 to the oceans.

        The point here is that humans burn fossil hydrocarbons at something like +20 PDB.

        The oceans don’t want this stuff. They are weakly selecting for -2.

        All this is meant to establish a framework for the bias in ocean uptake away from human CO2.

        Even ignoring this significant bias and for the sake of argument saying that the IPCC is off by an order of magnitude and actually net 16 GtC is being currently absorbed by the oceans, humans are only responsible for 3% of this…

      • @Raupach:

        “An observable quantity
        that reflects sink properties more directly than the AF
        is the CO2 sink rate (kS), the combined land–ocean CO2
        sink flux per unit excess atmospheric CO2 above preindustrial
        levels.”

        I’m sorry, this is simply not an observable quantity.It is an observable output from their model hypothesis.

        Their hypothesis goes astray beginning with their definition of AF. The only “observable” AF is the measurements at Mauna Loa etc. These measurements bear no resemblance to the AF in their graphic. Their AF is derived from human emissions data on the very dubious presumption that there is a 1:1 relationship. They also filter out ENSO as “noise” even though it seems pretty “intrinsic” to the ocean sink to me.

      • I went back to your first comment:

        @gymnosperm:Current ocean uptake is net 1.6 GtC per the IPCC Carbon cycle. This 1.6 GtC represents about 1/8 of current human emissions per year.

        If you’re comparing human components up and down I don’t believe that’s the correct accounting. Preindustrially there was a net ocean-to-atmosphere flow of 0.7 GtC. Hence the human component of the net ocean uptake is 2.3 GtC, not 1.6 GtC, which is 2.3/7.8 = 29.5% of human emissions, or 25.8% when land-use changes are included. Either way this is way more than 1/8, and is in excellent agreement with all recent work in a number of recent papers quantifying the carbon cycle, as well as with the data from the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center.

        It is very clear that current human emissions are but 3% of the Carbon cycle. Ask Ferdinand. Ask anyone who has worked on this.

        I’m not sure what you’re taking to be the denominator in your 3%, but if we take it to be total emissions (including human) as per the IPCC diagram you showed above, it comes to 17.7+1.0+7.8+1.1+118.7+.1 = 146.4 Gtc. Current human emissions are the 7.8+1.1 = 8.9 part of this sum, which represents 8.9/146.4 = 6.1% which again is double your 3% number.

        Since you didn’t show your work I can’t tell whether you’re using some other denominator (such as adding up every number in the whole diagram regardless of direction) or have simply made an arithmetic error somewhere.

      • Sorry, my mistake in the last bit. I wrote 17.7 where it should be 78.4 (net ocean flux to the atmosphere). Total emissions comes to 78.4+1.0+7.8+1.1+118.7+.1 = 207.1 Gtc (more like it, I shoud have been suspicious and double-checked). Current human emissions are the 7.8+1.1 = 8.9 part of this sum, which represents 8.9/207.1 = 4.3%. Still more than your 3% number, a tad under midway between that and my wrong calculation of 6%.

        However I do agree with you that his 48% figure for how much of human emissions have gone into the oceans is way too high. As a very rough approximation, 1/4 into the oceans, 1/4 into the land, with1/2 remaining in the atmosphere.

        A lot of recent papers have been pushing for a considerably larger terrestrial sink, and I’m fine with those. Assuming we know the emissions (including land-use changes and Henry’s law for salinity of 35‰) and what’s left in the atmosphere, it’s not unreasonable to assume that the ocean uptake is whatever’s left over. With that approach the main uncertainty is with the terrestrial sink, Which is what all those papers have been trying to assess, typically by sampling atmospheric CO2 and looking at gradients normal to coastlines.

      • The Carbon cycle moves an astonishing amount of Carbon around in a year.I took a notion to use the substantial information we have on the isotopic compositions of the fluxes to constrain the cycle. (The IPCC version is the best of dozens.) What I found is that it is extremely difficult to balance the cycle within isotopic constraints. The atmosphere wants to go negative PDB way, way too fast. The only efficient way to get light Carbon out of the atmosphere is to dump it into vegetation which is a net fractionation of about +15, but you can’t just posit a flux that would have vines crawling in our windows. In order to reasonably balance it it is necessary to include a small fractionation from plant respiration that is positive to the atmosphere. (In other words plants dump heavy C during their respiration. This doesn’t make much sense, but there is considerable evidence to support it.) It is also necessary to increase the magnitude of the atmosphere/vegetation fluxes. My Carbon cycle is thus bigger than the IPCC’s and my human portion lower.

        Anyway, count me in with those pushing for a larger terrestrial sink.

    • Not precisely. An amount of CO2 equal to half has stayed in the air. Much more of the original emitted CO2 is in the sea already.

      It is very difficult to write so that no nerd would complain. The CO2 and the equal amount of CO2 are different things, in principle.

      • An amount equal to half of current human production goes somewhere besides the atmosphere because atmospheric increase is only half of human production. Since the molecules of human production just go into the mill and are never seen again, it is reasonable to assume the mill treats them as it does other premium 12CO2 net flows. That would be about 5 GtC to vegetation and 2 to the ocean. This in not a game that ever leads to 48% of historic human CO2 in the oceans.

  14. bedeverethewise

    Not sure why I think this is so cool, or if is relevant to the current discussion, but, there are lakes of liquid CO2 in the deep ocean.

    http://www.pnas.org/content/103/38/14164.full

    • How about because it means we can dump our excess CO2 into those lakes, hopefully without significantly increasing the release of CO2 back to the wider system. That’s certainly one reason it seems important to me.

    • It would be funny if someone dipped a withered limb into that pool of liquid CO2 and discovered it was the veritable fountain of youth.

  15. Although Mike Wallace didn’t post this story on his own site http://www.abeqas.com here are his comments, though at a site considered to be a dirty word by some: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/12/23/touchy-feely-science-one-chart-suggests-theres-a-phraud-in-omitting-ocean-acidification-data-in-congressional-testimony/

  16. Why not talk about:

    “Ocean drying” the dangerous way sunshine is drying the oceans?

  17. Alan Longhurst

    All
    Please note a typo, just pointed out by a colleague. Surface pH at Hawaii feel by 0.04 – not 0.4 as stated – units between 1988 and 2001.

    Regrets….

    Alan

    • Thank you for your excellent book. It has been very informative.

      I find it refreshing that someone with extensive knowledge about a subject, such as you obviously have demonstrated in this post, actually recognizes the unknowns. While not uncommon in other scientific fields, it seems to be a rarity in climate science.

  18. Longhurst writes in section 10.3: ‘..where water circulation is relatively limited on the reef top of the Great Barrier Reef, “CO2 in the water is depleted by photosynthesis during the hours of daylight, while the O2 content rises to as much as 250% saturation and the pH rises to 8.9. At night, photosynthesis ceases, O2 may fall to as low as 18% saturation and the pH drops to 7.8”.’ The “…” marks suggest he is quoting someone else – but I don’t see a citation. Should there be one?

  19. @Ordvic
    by: Effect of ocean warming and acidification on a plankton community in the NW Mediterranean Sea (Maugendre, 2015):
    “There were no statistically significant effects of ocean warming and acidification, whether in isolation or combined, on the concentrations of nutrients, particulate organic matter, chl a and most of the photosynthetic pigments.”
    “Rates of gross primary production followed the general decreasing trend of chl a concentrations and were significantly higher under elevated temperature, an effect exacerbated when combined to elevated p CO 2 level.”

    I have yet, merely, (at the end – summary) quote by Professor J-P Gattuso
    2010.:
    “Although changes in the carbonate chemistry are well known, the biological and biogeochemical consequences are much less well constrained for several reasons. First, very few processes and organisms have been investigated so far (research in this area only began in the late 1990s). Second, most experiments were carried out in the short-term (hours to weeks), effectively neglecting potential acclimation and adaptation by organisms. Third, the interaction between pCO 2 and other parameters poised to change, such as temperature , concentration of nutrients and light, are essentially UNKNOWN. […]“
    “It is not anticipated that oceanic primary production will be directly affected by these changes in carbonate chemistry because most primary producers use carbon concentrating mechanisms that rely on CO 2. Note, however, that primary production of some species is likely to be stimulated. […]”
    “Note, however, that some calcifiers either do not show any response to increasing pCO 2 or exhibit a bell-shaped response curve with an optimum rate of calcification at pCO 2 values close to current ones and rates that decrease at pCO 2 values below and above the current values.”
    2015.:
    “WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR OCEAN ECOSYSTEMS?
    The interaction of multiple drivers can amplify or alleviate each other’s effects. It is likely that marine organisms will experience a combination of warming, acidification and declining oxygen concentrations as well as regionally specific local stressors. This makes it difficult to predict the responses of individual species to multiple drivers, and species interactions make ecosystem- based projections challenging.”

    (…)

  20. From my limited knowledge of ocean chemistry I had understood that surface ocean waters are generally depleted in ΣCO2 – total CO2 in all its dissolved forms – as compared with deeper levels of the oceans. This depletion is attributed to the photosynthetic activity of oceanic plankton (floating organisms). When these die their organic remains sink and are oxidised at deeper levels (>1km or so). This constant depletion of ΣCO2 in surface waters must be balanced by a net inflow of atmospheric CO2, otherwise the plankton would starve. By adding CO2 to the atmosphere humans are indirectly raising the generally depleted ΣCO2 content of surface ocean waters and thus making more CO2 available for photosynthesis. What in Dr Longhurst’s view is the net effect of these processes?

  21. Alan Longhurst

    Willard, Coldfish et al.

    Yes, Feely et al 2008 is the correct citation.

    As for ‘alarming reports’, I do not have a list of those I read at the time, but if you put “California acidification shellfish” into Goole you will get a sample of citations for which the word ‘alarming’ is appropriate: I just tried it and found, for example, http://www.futurity.org/shellfish-ocean-acidification-863302/ which I recommend as an example of the genre. Quite naturally, the California shellfish industry is worried – as it probably should be.

    Alan Longhurst

    • > Yes, Feely et al 2008 is the correct citation.

      Thanks!

      ***

      > For example, http://www.futurity.org/shellfish-ocean-acidification-863302/ which I recommend as an example of the genre.

      That example is not in the lichurchur, contrary to Feely et al 2008. Do you consider Feely et al 2008 as an alarming report, and if not, why insist in the “corrosive” word in its title? After all, you yourself say:

      [I]n the strictest sense this term is correct, because there is evidence that seawater of pH as low as this may erode the carbonate shells of some molluscs and other marine invertebrates, so the word can be justified.

      If you want to raise concerns about press releases or other kind of news article we can find on the Internet, press releases ought to be cited. This would increase the number of Internet references, which is usually a good thing in a PDF we read online. While this would force you to change your selling argument that you only cite the lichurchur, readers would have a better idea of the genre you’re criticizing.

      ***

      > Quite naturally, the California shellfish industry is worried – as it probably should be.

      If that’s the case, then the alarming tone may be justified, right?

      To underline an unjustifiably alarming report, the mot juste, i.e. the contrarian code word, would rather be alarmist. This, of course, would beg the question as to why the alarm is unjustified.

    • Hello Alan, Great book.
      I looked into the Pacific Northwest acidification alarm stories a while ago and they mostly seem to lead back to the Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery at Oregon’s Netarts Bay. Its baby oysters are grown all along the U.S. Pacific coast, where the oyster industry is currently valued at about $273 million annually. Here it is in Google maps. The baby oysters are grown in tanks and are irrigated with water pumped in from Netarts Bay.
      They had a lot of problems with infection and pH levels. They were pumping water directly from Netarts Bay which was subject to deep water up-welling and large fluctuations in pH. It was the ‘acidification’ that hit the headlines.. ‘The problem was solved by adding a dose of sodium bicarbonate.’ The main problem for the larvae though was the low concentrations of calcium carbonates in the deep up-welled water that was being pumped into the tank rather than the pH.

  22. Elsewhere in Longhurst’s book, he mentions that the oceans contain 50x the CO2 contained in the atmosphere. Given this, it would seem any additional CO2 in the atmosphere could only have a very minor and temporary effect on the oceans. Any problems with this statement?

  23. Some time ago Woods Hole Oceanographic carried out laboratory calcification experiments for various species up to CO2 levels of 2850ppm which I don’t see mentioned. A PDF is available online.

    GEOLOGY, December 2009, p. 1131

    Marine calcifiers exhibit mixed responses to CO2-induced ocean acidification
    Justin B. Ries*, Anne L. Cohen, and Daniel C. McCorkle
    Department of Geology and Geophysics, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts 02543, USA

    Is your preference lobster or limpet?

  24. Alan Longhurst

    Coldish1
    Simple its not, but the growth of phytoplankton populations is generally nutrient-limited, provided of course that there’s enough light and sufficient stabilty to keep the cells from sinking. I have seen no studies on the subject, but I doubt that there would be a CO2 intensification effect.

    Alan

    • ” I have seen no studies on the subject, but I doubt that there would be a CO2 intensification effect.”

      I have seen no studies on the subject, but I reserve judgement that there would be a CO2 intensification effect.

      Lack of knowledge should lead to a suspension of belief and doubt.

      I dont know, therefore i suspend judgement. I dont believe or doubt.
      I have no informed opinion.

      That’s skepticism.

      • “I don´t know, therefore I suspend judgement. I dont believe or doubt. I have no informed opinion. That’s skepticism.”
        – Steven Mosher

        I have entered that quote into my list over quotes I like – and might use in the future – If you don´t mind of course.
        Here is another common way of thinking:

        The idea seems feasible – and consistent with other ideas which also seems feasible. I believe it is true. That´s justificationism.

      • The idea seems feasible – and consistent with other ideas which also seems feasible. I think it is more likely false than true – that is denialism.

      • Geoff Sherrington

        Steven,
        You think that filling in cells with imaginary numbers in temperature sets a la Cowtan and Way is different somehow in logic?
        Should not one suspend belief when no measurement exist?

      • “You think that filling in cells with imaginary numbers in temperature sets a la Cowtan and Way is different somehow in logic?
        Should not one suspend belief when no measurement exist?”

        There is no such thing as filling the cells with imaginary numbers.
        Not filling the cells is mathematically the same as imputing the global average. Not filling is demonstrably WRONG
        testable and demonstrably wrong.

      • stevenreincarnated

        Having seen no studies on a particular question does not immediately indicate a complete lack of knowledge. He may have seen no studies directly relating to the question at hand, intensification effect of CO2, but having seen studies on what limiting factors are make an informed judgement on probable outcomes.

    • Maybe Langhorn’s opinion is way more informed than your own, Steven. He may have reasons to doubt, of which you are unaware. And doubting is not making a judgement. It’s just doubting. If you want to call it a judgement, suspending judgement is also a judgement. You seem to be stalking this guy, Steven. Why you mad at him?

      • Longhurst is very well acquainted with the complex conditions that exist in the real world, as opposed to the simplistic academic preconceptions of geophysical amateurs. That’s what makes him dangerous to BEST’s entire enterprise.

      • “He may have reasons to doubt, of which you are unaware. ”

        he may have unicorns, yes.

        I have reasons to doubt his doubt of which you are unaware.

        I suggest you dip your toe into his other writings..

  25. ‘ no more than a handful of studies on the subject were published annually; subsequently, the floodgates opened and ‘acidification of seawater’ rapidly became headline news. This term, perfectly proper chemically, had been very rarely used previously in this context, and its use has undoubtedly assisted in bringing the issue to our attention’

    H’mm

    There’s a reason nobody had used this term much before.

    ‘Neutralisation’ is at least as proper as ‘acidification’ since it describes the result achieved, not the process involved.

    But I guess telling the public that thir oceans might become a teensy bit nearer to pure water in its constitution does not carry the same scare value as ‘acidification’ with all its connotations of dissolving bodies and scarring by scorned lovers.

    Just sayin’

    • The terminology has been used in agriculture/horticulture for a very very long time. My Grandmother, born in the 19th century, had her grandsons “acidify” her limestone-based soil.

      • Perhaps if the discussion were indeed about horticulture, it would be appropriate to use the common horticultural term.

        But it isn’t. It is about chemistry. And the correct term for adding a small amount of an acid to an overwhelming quantity of alkali is that it is ‘neutralised’. The pH is slightly closer to pure neutral water, pH=7. Hence the process is ‘neutralisation’.

      • My Grandmother, born in the 19th century, had her grandsons “acidify” her limestone-based soil.

        With good reason.

        Optimum Crop Production pH Range 5.0 – 5.5
        Blueberries, Irish Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes

        Optimum Crop Production pH Range 5.5 – 6.5
        Barley, Bluegrass, Corn, Cotton, Fescue, Grain Sorghum, Peanuts, Rice, Soybeans, Watermelon, Wheat

        Optimum Crop Production pH Range 6.5 – 7.0
        Alfalfa, Some Clovers, Sugar Beets

    • ‘Neutralisation’ is at least as proper as ‘acidification’ since it describes the result achieved, not the process involved.

      The correct term is “acidification”. “Neutralisation” is not correct in this context. This sort of BS is exactly the reason alarmists can get away with not taking skeptics seriously.

      • “Neutralisation” is not correct in this context.

        Please explain.

        The solution begins at pH 8. (alkaline) It may finish at pH 7.8 (less alkaline, nearer to neutral pure water (pH=7.0).

        The resulting solution has been slightly neutralised. It is not acidic, and even if we burnt all the free carbon on the planet it would never become acidic. It would not have been acidified. It would remain slightly alkaline, but closer to pure water than it is now,

        Acidification is a scare word, and it is very hard not to be persuaded that those who began using it did so knowing its lack of accuracy but persuaded of its ability to scare laypeople.out of their wits and wallets.

      • The solution begins at pH 8. (alkaline) It may finish at pH 7.8 (less alkaline, nearer to neutral pure water (pH=7.0).

        The oceans aren’t “neutral pure water” and a pH of 7.0 is irrelevant to ocean life.

        The resulting solution has been slightly neutralised. It is not acidic, and even if we burnt all the free carbon on the planet it would never become acidic. It would not have been acidified. It would remain slightly alkaline, but closer to pure water than it is now,

        Every solution form pH=1 to pH=14 is an acid. And a base. Any change that reduces the pH, even from 14 to 13, is properly called acidification.

        Acidification is a scare word, and it is very hard not to be persuaded that those who began using it did so knowing its lack of accuracy but persuaded of its ability to scare laypeople.out of their wits and wallets.

        I’m sure they understood that it’s the accurate term, and simply took advantage of the fact that many people don’t realize what they’re doing when they, say, pour vinegar on their salad.

    • “This term, perfectly proper chemically”

      The work is a tour de force. dont nitpick

    • Can we drop the terminology debate? It’s a drive down a cul-de-sac.

  26. So much yet ter know about the deep oceans. I meself
    am neutral regardin’ C O 2 and ocean ‘acidification.’
    But this from WUWT, 27/12’/2011, is interestin’.

    E.M.Smith
    December 29, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    The floor of the ocean is covered with mega-tons of metal.
    In any attempt to acidify the ocean (meaning to actually
    get a pH smaller than 7) that metal will immediately start
    reacting and neutralize any acid.

    The floor of the ocean has a constant rain of carbonate
    “gut rocks” from fish (dumping that excess alkalinity in
    which they live. Alkalinity properly meaning alkaline
    elements like the Calcium in those gut rocks). It also
    has a constant rain of carbonate shells from microscopic
    sea life and silicate shells as well. ALL of that acting
    to neutralize any attempt to become acidic.

    It is simply not possible to make the ocean acidic
    with carbon fuels.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manganese_nodule

    Nodules lie on the seabed sediment, often partly or
    completely buried. They vary greatly in abundance,
    in some cases touching one another and covering
    more than 70% of the sea floor. The total amount of
    polymetallic nodules on the sea floor was estimated
    at 500 billion tons by Alan A. Archer of the London
    Geological Museum in 1981. They can occur at any
    depth, even in lakes, but the highest concentrations
    have been found on vast abyssal plains in the deep
    ocean between 4,000 and 6,000 m (13,000 and
    20,000 ft).

  27. A couple of comments on points in the sections quoted, which overall seemed to me a useful, thoughtful commentary on the issue.

    1. “Of the anthropogenic carbon dioxide that was emitted into the atmosphere during the 19th and 20th centuries, approximately 48% has been dissolved in the oceans”

    I don’t think this is in line with the latest evidence. IPCC AR5 (Table 6.1) estimates the 1750-2001 fossil fuels and cement production emissions as 292 GTC, with net land use change at 171 GTC, making total anthropogenic emissions of 463 GTC. 28% of that, being 131 GTC is estimated to have been absorbed by the ocean. The percentage is the same using figures up to 2011. Cumulative carbon uptake by the land was about the same as for the ocean, but much more uncertain (the net land-atmosphere flux is better known than its two components).

    2. The text mentions calcite saturation, but undersaturation of another form of CaCO3, aragonite, is also a concern and may occur sooner.

  28. Ocean’s Chemical Buffers
    Few understand the magnitude of the ocean’s chemical buffers. See
    Tom V. Segalstad at http://www.CO2web.info
    4. Chemical Laws for Distribution of CO2 in Nature

    The geochemical equilibrium system anorthite CaAl2Si2O8 – kaolinite Al2Si2O5(OH)4 has by the pH of ocean water a buffer capacity which is thousand times larger than a 0.001 M carbonate solution (Stumm & Morgan, 1970). In addition we have clay mineral buffers, and a calcium silicate + CO2 calcium carbonate + SiO2 buffer (MacIntyre, 1970; Krauskopf, 1979). These buffers all act as a “security net” under the most important buffer: CO2 (g) HCO3- (aq) CaCO3 (s). All together these buffers give in principle an infinite buffer capacity (Stumm & Morgan, 1970). . . .
    The chemical equilibrium constants for the chemical reactions above provide us with a partition coefficient for CO2 between the atmosphere and the ocean of approximately 1 : 50 (approx. 0.02) at the global mean temperature (Revelle & Suess, 1957; Skirrow, 1975). This means that for an atmospheric doubling of CO2, there will have to be supplied 50 times more CO2 to the ocean to obtain chemical equilibrium. This total of 51 times the present amount of atmospheric CO2 carbon is more than the known reserves of fossil carbon. It is possible to exploit approximately 7000 GT of fossil carbon, which means, if all this carbon is supposed to be burned, that the atmospheric CO2 can be increased by 20% at the most under geochemical equilibrium at constant present surface temperature.

    The issue thus cannot be the Equilibrium but only the Transient conditions.

    • We have doubled the CO2 emissions since 1977.

      The current annual CO2 increase is around 2.1 PPM/Y instead of 1.7 PPM/Y.

      If increasing emissions had a significant effect on the CO2 increase it would be about 3.4 PPM/Y.

      500 PPM of atmospheric CO2 seems to be the practical limit before we run out of fuel, since the absorption is steadily increasing.

    • David L. Hagen

      Effects of CO2-driven ocean acidification on early life stages of marine medaka (Oryzias melastigma)

      Results showed that CO2-driven seawater acidification (pH 7.6 and 7.2) had no detectable effect on hatching time, hatching rate, and heart rate of embryos. However, the deformity rate of larvae 10 in pH 7.2 treatment was significantly higher than that in control treatment. The left and right sagitta areas did not differ significantly from each other in each treatment. However, the mean sagitta area of larvae in pH 7.6 treatment was significantly smaller than that in the control (p = 0.024). T

      What are the prospects of pH 7.2 in light of Salegstad’s buffer analysis?
      Compare the 1.1 pH spread:

      on the reef top of the Great Barrier Reef, “CO2 in the water is depleted by photosynthesis during the hours of daylight, while the O2 content rises to as much as 250% saturation and the pH rises to 8.9. At night, photosynthesis ceases, O2 may fall to as low as 18% saturation and the pH drops to 7.8”.

  29. Mr. Longhurst appears to have made a very credible effort to understand the state of science with CO2 effects on ocean pH, however, the primary takeaway I get from his work is that we don’t know.
    All of the discussions, experiments, and so forth are barely more advanced than the past theological discussions of the numbers of angel dancing on the head of a pin. The reality is that the ecosphere is a highly complex and adaptative collection of processes. The attempts to equate CO2 atmospheric concentration vs. ocean pH are nonsensical as there are numerous areas in the Pacific where CO2 from volcanic origins bubbles directly through the ocean to the atmosphere. The coral and fish in these areas don’t seem to have any problems with that. If hundreds, of not thousands of literal CO2 bubble pumps are passing through shallow ocean without obvious negative impact on the neighboring biota, clearly any effects of trace level CO2 increases in atmosphere spread over a hundred years or more will have less.

  30. If ocean acidification is really a problem, it looks like a regional one. It looks highly unlikely that attempting to reduce emissions of CO2 is going to have any significant effect. A better approach might be to treat this problem locally. Can some type of base be added where corals are threatened or shell creatures are concentrated? Can CO2 be removed to make jet fuel as the Navy has proposed or diesel as Audi is purportedly doing?

  31. Still reading and not comfortable making comments till absorb the information but linked is the 2011 National Academy of Sciences report on ocean acidification. Filled with interesting information.

    http://www.nap.edu/download.php?record_id=12904

    One may read it for free if you register with them.
    Scott

  32. The logic of dont worry

    :But I think that those who now deeply worried about the observed changes in pH and calcite saturation in today’s ocean might well take some comfort from a reading of the palaeontological literature, into which I have no more than dipped my toe.”

    “The entire subject of the response of the marine ecosystem to increasing levels of atmospheric CO2 is in such an early stage of investigation that I believe it is not yet possible to achieve any level of certainty about what the future holds for the marine ecosystem, but one has to conclude that alarmism is premature.”

    Game number 1: Don’t worry, read some other stuff. It’s not clear what the author means by “dipping his toe” does he mean.
    A) I just started to read it
    B) I read it but wont discuss it much

    In either case the argument doesnt work.
    A) dont worry, because there is a bunch of stuff I havent read
    B) dont worry because there is a bunch of stuff I dont discuss.

    Game number 2. We dont know, its too early, dont worry.

    Again..Both of these arguments from uncertainty fail.

    we can turn them on the heads in the following way.

    1. The science suggests bad consequences for changes in ph
    2. Those consequences may be exagerated
    3. We dont know
    4. But we do know that there is no science that suggests GOOD consequences for increased acidity.
    5. Since there is no upside and a possible downside, it makes
    sense to curtail emisssions until the science is settled.

    What do we see here. I think we see how uncertainty can be used by any side in an argument in what appears to be a “rational” way. Some folks will look at “we dont know, therefore do nothing” as a rational argument.
    Others will say “we dont know, therefore stop doing X” and they will see that as rational

    Think of it like this. Anything follows from a statement of uncertainty.
    we dont know, therefore….

    I dont think these two groups of people can talk to each other in any sort of rational way.

    • “We don’t know”, therefore look for some cheap, low-impact way to solve the problem rather than rushing into a massive, high-impact economic reconfiguration there’s no proof we need.

      • walk and chew gum

      • high-impact economic reconfiguration there’s no proof we need.

        I don’t know what you mean by “economic reconfiguraton.” But I think if done the right way with countries allowed to choose their own approach to reducing emissions (which would include nuclear) and the process is gradual, that it won’t be a drag on the economy. In fact it might be good to not have energy giants like Exxon dominating the oil market and to have more private investment in energy efficiency technologies that will save businesses money.

      • I don’t know what you mean by “economic reconfiguraton.”

        http://thischangeseverything.org

        But I think if done the right way with countries allowed to choose their own approach to reducing emissions (which would include nuclear) and the process is gradual, that it won’t be a drag on the economy.

        What’s happening right now is working fine. It’s gradual, there’s rapid progress.

        In fact it might be good to not have energy giants like Exxon dominating the oil market […]

        Don’t hold your breath. They own the major storage, transport, and sales systems. If they invest in the right technology, they’ll be the major owners of the new sources of gas/liquid fuel.

        As the documents now being waved around show, Exxon, at least, projected a major shift from coal to oil/gas back in the 80’s. While they missed the Fracking boom, they’re doing (comparatively) well during the current price slump, and could well buy into fracking, as some of the weaker players go under.

        More importantly, IMO, both sea-floor methane hydrate and solar power→gas/liquid fuel are potential long-term (fossil) carbon-neutral sources that would leave their investments in storage, transport, and sale with full value.

        If Exxon-Mobile is smart enough to jump into sea-floor methane hydrate with both feet, they could come out the big winner in the long run. Chances? IMO slim or fat, and fat’s out of town.

      • I think keeping CO2 levels in the atmosphere high enough for many technologies (particularly traditionaly open-air crop farming) to work effectiviely is far more likely a problem than ocean acidification and our slight affect on the weather.

      • What will happen to subsistance farmers in marginal areas if CO2 levels fall back to 300ppm?

      • Or even 350.

      • From over two years ago: Audi opens 6 MW power-to-gas facility

        Audi has opened a new 6 MW power-to-gas facility in Germany, making it the first automaker to develop a chain of sustainable energy carriers.

        […]

        The e-gas plant utilizes a two-step process: electrolysis and methanation. First, the plant uses surplus green electricity to break water down into oxygen and hydrogen in three electrolyzers. While the hydrogen could one day power fuel-cell vehicles, in the absence of an area-wide infrastructure, a second process step is carried out directly: methanation. The hydrogen is combined with carbon dioxide (CO2) to produce synthetic methane, or Audi e-gas.

        The Audi e-gas project demonstrates how large amounts of green electricity can be stored efficiently and independently of location by transforming it into methane gas and storing it in the natural gas network, the largest public energy storage system in Germany.

        There are many approaches to creating methane or light hydrocarbons from CO2 and H2, such as using a bioreactor built right into the electrolytic systemThe big oil/gas companies just have to purchase rights, and/or do the appropriate R&D, set up massive solar PV farms, and feed the results right into their existing distribution, storage, and sales systems.

    • When NOVA ran their BS hysteric piece on ‘acidification’ they featured Oysters and Corals.

      I looked up a lot of info, including the evolution of Oysters and Corals.

      The oldest Oysters and Coral variants go back 500 million years. They’ve changed, of course, but their evolution includes traits which enabled them to live in all kinds of environments in the intervening hundreds of millions of years.

      Funny thing about that period – most of that time, CO2 has been much greater than present. Sometimes as much as 25 times greater than present:

      Those without much perspective are prone to hysteria and fall for these hoaxes.

      But we should be guided by reason, not emotion.

    • What I find interesting is that people highly concerned about human CO2 damaging the oceans “sometime in the future” seem much less concerned about the current obvious damage being done to the oceans by the dumping of human waste into the oceans.

      • Rob

        Notwithstanding whether or not co2 is causing harm It would be interesting to know just what damage we are doing with our basic policy of virtually everything we produce eventually ending up in the oceans via the river , from sewage to plastics, mineral waste to factory effluent with the third world now taking our place as we somewhat clean up our act to some extent.

        Tonyb

      • Tony–we “humanity” is doing huge harm to the oceans. Much is totally obvious and nothing get done because nations are independent and dumping is cheap

      • Rob

        I suppose it’s out of sight out of mind.
        Tonyb

      • what people are in fact concerned about has nothing to do with what they should be concerned about. and its possible to be concerned about many things at the ssame time

      • Notwithstanding whether or not co2 is causing harm It would be interesting to know just what damage we are doing with our basic policy of virtually everything we produce eventually ending up in the oceans via the river , from sewage to plastics, mineral waste to factory effluent with the third world now taking our place as we somewhat clean up our act to some extent.

        Set a problem to solve a problem: if we assume there are good reasons for the net human “emissions” (actually “flux”) to go to zero, that means any long-term (century/millennium scale) sequestration of carbon is a positive externality.

        So why not gather all our waste up in big containers, with enough rocks to make it stay on the bottom, and dump it into some ocean trench with a good rate of sedimentation.

        It might be more expensive, especially at first, but each ton of carbon so sequestered counteracts a ton of fossil carbon burned and dumped into the system. There are probably ways to handle the financial end.

      • AK said

        ‘So why not gather all our waste up in big containers, with enough rocks to make it stay on the bottom, and dump it into some ocean trench with a good rate of sedimentation.’

        I would pay good money for a seat in the room as you tried to pitch that to Greenpeace. :)

        tonyb

      • I would pay good money for a seat in the room as you tried to pitch that to Greenpeace. :)

        Watermelons like Greenpeace are the enemy. They’re the ones using “environmental” concerns as a stalking horse for their socialist, anti-Western, anti-capitalist agenda.

        Of course they’d hate anything that actually might solve the problem. Once it’s solved, it’s not there to rationalize their socialist agenda.

      • Steven Mosher, “what people are in fact concerned about has nothing to do with what they should be concerned about. and its possible to be concerned about many things at the ssame time”

        Anti-reductionsim? I believe starting with the kill coal silver bullet was the easiest sell but not the most logical initial step since there are and can be even more than anyone imagines important issues. The over simplifying rally the rabble, mentality can suck the life out of the science side of the debate. Well, at least for people that have some concept of the complexity.

        BTW, not only is diesel exhaust emission being implicated in asthma, it appears to be a confounding factor in a number of other things including autism. Wetlands and land use change implicated in endocrine distributors found in lakes and rivers. It is almost like that tunnel vision on coal has been an unwarranted distraction. Pity no one saw that earlier.

        I also hear that some of the almost too good to be true emissions control marvels might be software manipulation.

      • Captain

        I was going to post the green zealots link but I see Josh has done it for me

        http://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/09/25/friday-funny-fiddle-me-this/

        We all knew about the harm from diesels but they were heavily promoted by the UK govt because it was thought co2 was more harmful.

        tonyb

      • Tony, pretty much everyone knew the potential, but when you have VW cheating and the Frogs jumping on the band wagon things are pretty bad.

        Land use, especially, wetlands should be the next shoe to drop. Wetlands are natures HEPA filters for pesky things like estrogen and happen to store a crap load of carbon to boot. Of course, land use change is really a “good” thing according to the models. Another software error perhaps?

      • Capt’nDallas

        I hadn’t heard about the wetlands and estrogen story. Would you please provide a reference?

        Regarding land use. There is lots of case law that permits a land holder to do with what they will when they hold title to the land. Developers take advantage of this all the time; i.e., lawyers, and not even good ones, threaten townships and small cities with large lawsuits which the township hasn’t the resources to fight. Wetlands of course are Federally determined, at least where I live, and still developers encroach upon these just to get one more lot in a subdivision. The courts back the developers because no township has bullet proof ordinances. There are always wiggle room which developer lawyers find.

        Of course this land use business all plays out on the local public access cable network viewed by 10 or 12 people who happen to be surfing channels at the time. Doesn’t seem to stir as much excitement as say a new CO2 source expose’.

      • RiH008, Here is one.

        https://web.extension.illinois.edu/unusedmeds/research/Peterson_FinalReport_Illinois-Indian_SeaGrantProgram.pdf

        There are quite a few with varying levels of efficiency. Most deal with treating waste water but there is a lot of wildlife and farm related estrogen sources. Plant types have a major influence with cattails and bullrush being a good varieties for estrogen.

      • RiH008, “Wetlands of course are Federally determined, at least where I live, and still developers encroach upon these just to get one more lot in a subdivision. The courts back the developers because no township has bullet proof ordinances”

        In Florida, storm water retention is required for new developments and developers/land owners can mitigate by donating land to conversation acreage with a reasonable tax break. Most of the storm water retention ends up being ponds and lakes that add to the developments and there are starting to be more artificial wetland retention areas with some interesting landscaping. It really hasn’t been much of a problem since the first few developments worked out the details.

        BTW I help stocked one of the ponds with a couple 10 pound plus large mouth bass along with about a dozen little ones in the 6 to 10 pound range :)

      • Capt’nDallas

        Thank you for the resource article and Kickapoo Creek; shades of Lil Abner and Kickapoo Juice.

        Nice to hear that bullrush and cat tails do someone some good.

        We have wetlands here, its just that most were drained a while back, @ 1930 to reduce the mosquito population and malaria (last indigenous case was 1941 or so).

        We had some large mouth bass in the lake behind us however some creep put a lake trout in there which wiped out not only the bass but all the large carp before it met its just reward by some skinny kid with a bobber and artificial lure. Kid has a great picture of him holding the creature while standing on the shore.

    • > Anything follows from a statement of uncertainty.

      Including black helicopters. For instance, here’s a rare comment where Michael made an analysis, and where Richard Feely makes another appearance:

      Let’ start with the overall premise, set by the use of the term “shell game” – ie. deliberate deception. Not an error, not competing explanations,but deliberate, pre-meditated dishonesty is what Rud is claiming.

      That’s an allegation that needs some convincing evidence, don’t you think?

      And the evidence – there isn’t any. There’s a lot of words, but evidence?

      First we get a few links to news items that Rud appears to have a problem with. Exactly what the problem is, is a little vague. He highlights the one quote from Richard Feely – “This is the smoking gun for oyster larvae”. Is it this statement that’s the problem,or the quality of the journalism (our hostess can tell you about lenghty conversations with journalists and subsequent stories where you get quoted with alarming brevity)?? It’s not all that clear to me.

      What follows is an ‘analysis’ which I presume is meant to show the problems with the ‘alarm’ that Rud keeps referring to. What it is, is a brief summary of what we know about ocean chemistry and ecology focusing on pH and CO2; summarised from the work of scientists like Richard Freely, one of the authors. While denigrating NOAA as a ‘shill’, Rud relies on much of their work in his analysis, even reproducing graphs of Feely’s (sans attribution, of course) on ocean pH at different depths. Always amusing to see a blog post using a scientists own work to tell them they don’t understand their area.

      His conclusion – that is was all “oysters 101” – ignoring the fact the problem was finally confirmed by the Hales et al study,

      And,
      “It has nothing to do with near term ocean acidification, unlike their study title, MSM quotes, and their US government websites. ….amplifying a misleading message” says Rud.

      So what was the title?
      “The Pacific oyster, Crassostrea gigas, shows negative correlation to naturally elevated carbon dioxide levels: Implications for near-term ocean acidification impacts”.

      So their finding that the oyster die off was primarily due to natural upwelling, was misleading how exactly?

      The second part, that Feely referred to in his quote (“smoking gun”) is in relation to the second part the title and is discussed in suitably careful terminology in the paper (ie “we acknowledge the correlative and suggestive nature of this study…”).

      This makes me wonder if, yet again, Rud has failed to read the article (like his 2 previous posts where he only read the abstracts leading to significant errors in his ‘analysis’). Rud’s “pea” comment also points tothis direction,suggesting the authors don’t get,or know about, estuarine pH – but Hales et al go into much more detail on this than Rud manages in his brief ‘analysis’.

      Rud has great faith in adaptability;

      “Together with pH buffering mechanisms and other possible CO2 driven processes, the oceans will adapt naturally to some inevitable acidification”

      With zero evidence to support this claim, which is especially brave given he accepts that the relatively small pH change caused the massive oyster larvae die offs.

      Perhaps it’s based on this error (let’s be generous and says it’s an error, not part of some ‘shell game’);
      “Neither does naturally upwelling ΔpH 0.4 compared to possible AGW acidification ΔpH 0.04”

      Projected AGW pH change is in fact 0.4, not 0.04.

      So, really how convincing is Rud’s suggestion of deliberate deception?

      https://judithcurry.com/2013/09/26/shell-game/#comment-387490

      The emphasized typo is interesting.

      ***

      I like the concept of shell game. Don’t you?

      • Willard, you try to hard. i chronicled the issue of the Netarts Bay Whisky Creek Miyagi oyster hatchery in detail. To sum, Netarts Baynis not an estuary, but Miyagi oysters are estuarine. Estuaries change pH from ( in that region-Oregon Wahington by a full pH plus between winter and summer. Miyagi spawn when water is warm-summer. Whiskey Creek was taking in upwelling low pH water, warming to to induce spawn, without also raising pH. Stupid mismanagement.
        As for the paper Feely published on this, then his PMEL website discussion, and the Seattle Times report, there is no excuse. He knew, or should have known, about estuarine species habits. His OA conclusion was and is just a shell game. He bordered on scientific misconduct.
        You provide no refutation of those facts, because you cannot. Facts just are.

      • A pearl of wisdom from Rud, tossed before swine.

      • > [Y]ou try to[o] hard.

        Copy-pasting is quite easy, Sir. A bit less easier would be to synthesize Michael’s arguments. Let’s do that:

        (a) No direct evidence of a shell game, just lots of “alarming”. The same word Alan used, incidentally.

        (b) No evidence that the “smoking gun” quote is the smokin’ gun you hold it to be.

        (c) A failure to establish the relevance of the study with the topics covered by the public outreach, a failure which would have been parried by reading the article’s title alone.

        (d) A mansplanation of some tidbits of the science using the tidbits from your own target, without attribution to boot.

        (e) A failure to acknowledge that the study’s conclusions were tentative, as it should be.

        (f) The omission of the fact that Hales et al already confirmed the problem underlined by the study.

        (g) The injection of your faith in adaptability, which mix two genres (H/T Alan), i.e. the science detective story and the messianic futurology.

        (h) A small typo that resembles the one Alan made himself in the text.

        ***

        > You provide no refutation of those facts, because you cannot.

        These facts are irrelevant to the points Michael made.

        ***

        > Facts just are.

        … what they are, and nothing else, like would perhaps repeat the good ol’ Bishop Butler.

        However, inferences are not facts, and irrelevant facts are just that: irrelevant facts.

        ***

        Next time, Sir Rud, you can be sure I will try harder.

        Shell games. Billions upon billions of shell games.

      • The lobster’s
        tale told by
        a mock
        turtle
        is a
        sad
        one.

      • Turtles surf with an attitude
        and tell the tales of
        the southern streams they dwell,
        or so the little Nemo says,
        against Rifkin’s tastes.

        Beauty is good, validity better
        Truthfulness is not about who you are
        But about what you say,
        And how you fare
        To hold it within
        Reason.

      • Ffft, I’ll add
        anuther
        bend via
        Lewis
        C.

        Like the mouse’s
        tale, a lobster’s
        tale told by
        a mock
        turtle,
        is a
        sad
        one.

        ( It’s sich a com-pluh-ca-ted gai -eh-aime.

      • Here’s how to start a shell game:

        Don’t provide the proper link to the press release you throw in:

        https://www.climate.gov/news-features/features/upwelling-crisis-ocean-acidification

        Don’t provide a link to the main scientific paper in the game:

        http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu.rajatorrent.com/xmlui/bitstream/handle/1957/31837/HalesBurkeCEOASPacificOysterCrassostrea.pdf

        Connect this press release with your main story by sheer power of guilt by association.

        Call it alarming without substantiating your claim.

        Fail to mention this is where he may have learned about Vibrio tubiashii.
        Armwave the latin word in the air, like you don’t care.

        Subtly insinuate that they don’t know things like:

        Hales said Netarts Bay, where the Whiskey Creek hatchery is located, experiences a wide range of chemistry fluctuations. The OSU researchers say hatchery operators may be able to adapt their operations to take advantage of periods when water quality is at its highest.

        “In addition to the impact of seasonal upwelling, the water chemistry changes with the tidal cycle, and with the time of day,” Hales said. “Afternoon sunlight, for example, promotes photosynthesis in the bay and that production can absorb some of the carbon dioxide and lower the corrosiveness of the water.”

        http://oregonstate.edu/ua/ncs/archives/2012/apr/hatchery-managers-osu-scientists-link-ocean-acidification-larval-oyster-failure

        Don’t mention such press releases, keep mentioning “alarming.”

        Alarming, alarming, alarming.

        ***

        Oh, and make sure your only scientific authority you provide is a link that leads to nowhere.

        In a website of a journal your target has published.

        Inject that coastal fisheries thrive and simply state that you did enough to say:

        The reason should be obvious.

        Then wash your hands on all this, repeating

        Alarming, alarming, alarming.

    • Mosher: “But we do know that there is no science that suggests GOOD consequences for increased acidity.
      5. Since there is no upside and a possible downside, it makes
      sense to curtail emisssions until the science is settled.”

      Your analysis is overly simplistic and narrow. There is an upside to the increased CO2 which could cause increased acidity. Increased use of fossil fuels, which would increase emissions of CO2, almost certainly would reduce energy poverty deaths, which were calculated to be about 2,500 in the UK about 4 years ago. Thus, there is a non-speculative benefit of increased use of fossil fuels to be balanced against the speculative negative effects of CO2 with respect to acidification.

      JD

      • you missed the entire point.

      • Mosher: “you missed the entire point.” Maybe you meant to say something different from that which you wrote but my post did address what you wrote. The issue of acidification was extensively linked to rising CO2, and therefore the positive effects of CO2, in any rational examination of how acidification should be addressed, are a major part of the equation. You like most alarmists take a simplistic tack that emphasizes the negative impacts of CO2 and ignores the positive impacts.

        If you seriously contend that my post misses your entire point, you may wish to say why instead of stating a broad conclusion with no supporting justification.

        JD

    • “Steve Mosher:
      4. But we do know that there is no science that suggests GOOD consequences for increased acidity.”

      Read more. Comment less.

  33. Those interested in the science of Ocean Acidification (OA) should read my two recent essays on the subject at WUWT regarding Cornwall and Hurd 2015 [ http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/icesjms/fsv118 ]:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/09/04/ocean-acidification-trying-to-get-the-science-right/

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/09/09/dr-christopher-cornwall-responds-to-ocean-acidification-trying-to-get-the-science-right/

    A lot of the previous OA science needs to be reworked due to invalid experimental design and inappropriate statistical analysis, according to C&H 2015, who are OA proponents (advocates of OA dangers).

    Longhurst is correct about the basic OA chemistry and the uncertainty surrounding the issue. Surface Ocean pH will go down as CO2(atmos) goes up. How much, how soon, and what the effects will be are widely in doubt — the same questions that plague all of CliSci.

    C&H 2015 is behind a paywall, but I offer copies to those interested in my essays.

  34. Cliff Mass has written about the effect of changing pH on native and non-native shellfish in the Pacific Northwest.

    It is very interesting to note that dying baby Pacific oysters headlined in the Seattle Times piece are not natives. They were imported during the early 20th century from Japan, a location without the large upwelling variations prevalent along the western side of the Pacific. My research so far suggests that our native shellfish species are doing fine….happy as a clam, so to speak … Could it be that our native species are far more accustomed to the naturally varying ph of our region and that the imports are not?

    http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/2013/10/ocean-acidification-and-northwest.html

    Recently, in a formal legal statement provided to the U.S. District Court of Western Washington, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made it clear that the oyster/acidification scare was baseless in both fact and law. Furthermore, the Washington State Department of Ecology came to the same conclusion.

    http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/2014/09/epa-takes-on-oysteracidification.html

  35. Worried about that dreadful CO2 (which is a byproduct of ~80% of our energy supply)?

    Consider:

    Martin, Richard. “Bringing Molten-Salt Nuclear Reactors to Reality.” Scientific. MIT Technology Review, September 4, 2015. http://www.technologyreview.com/news/540991/meltdown-proof-nuclear-reactors-get-a-safety-check-in-europe/

    Tucker, William. “Can the Molten Salt Reactor Break Through?” Scientific. RealClearEnergy, September 11, 2015. http://www.realclearenergy.org/articles/2015/09/11/can_the_molten_salt_reactor_break_through_108743.html

  36. No. I suspect that our increasing CO2 emissions are feeding crops and bringing moisture and rainfall to land and keeping yields high, particarly on marginal lands.

    Sounds like a waste of good CO2 to me. What happens to farms if concentration just stop increasing so fast? What happens if they fast?

    I’m far more worried that we won’t be able to keep up the increase in concentration than I am that ocean life won’t adapt. When concentration growth starts fall, I suspect that’s when we’ll see famine and climate refugees.

    What if sinks, natural and man made, out grow our ability to generate emission and our ever increasing yields are largely dependent on increases?

  37. The issue of ocean acidification seems to have focused upon the flux of available Calcium and the abundance or limitation of calcite or its conjugates. What I didn’t see was an assessment of protein-C02 conjugates such as:

    PlantPhysiol.(1988)87,833-840 0032-0889/88/87/0833/08/$O1.00/0
    Effect of CO2 Concentration on Protein Biosynthesis and
    CarbonicAnhydraseExpressioninChlamydomonasreinhardtii’
    JANE BAILLY AND JOHN R. COLEMAN* CentreforPlantBiotechnology,DepartmentofBotany, UniversityofToronto, Toronto, Ontario,CanadaM5S 1AI

    The biosynthesis of proteins incorporating CO2 doesn’t seem to have hit the science community let alone the media. Algae blooms seems to have been acknowledged yet the CO2 absorption by such blooms doesn’t seem to have reached the critical assessment. I am not saying that protein formation/incorportation is a vast CO2 sink. It just hasn’t been studied.

    Another story not seen is that of CO2 and formation of carbohydrates other than in tree rings or wheat yields.

    I believe that the CO2 story is one of many niches which are yet to be addressed or discovered and influence the ultimate survival of terrestrial and oceanic life. Elevated CO2 probably has little or not influence on the big picture. Humans have lived with 40,000 PPMv for a very long time, well before Mann inhabited the earth.

    • You are quite right. All these organisms secrete shell from an outer organic membrane, inside which is much more complicated biochemistry at lower pH. How those processes interact with ‘exterior’ water pH and carbonate saturations has been studied in the lab, with winners and losers. But a recent paper called most of the lab test conditions into question.
      Is there an issue with acidification? Probably, depending on rate of change. Is it catastrophic? Probably not. The biological uncertainty is great. Plus, there has been some provable chicanery overstating the downsides. My essay Shell Games exposes two. The guest post here was only the second of the two.

      • Is there an issue with acidification? Probably, depending on rate of change. Is it catastrophic? Probably not.

        How many areas of climate science are you an expert in, Rud?

      • one does not need to be an expert, just an intelligent reader of the information and presentations to understand when great leaps of conjecture extrapolate beyond the data.

        False conclusions are often unsupported by the data.

        In the age of specialization few are experts in all areas of climate, medicine, engineering, physics or statistics. that is one reason integrity of scientific publishing is so important and is being squandered by some.
        Scott

  38. “epigenetic changes in gene expression would appear to be responsible for this result.”

    If correct, this indicates a reason for an epigenetic mechanism, perhaps on account of rapid changes that occur frequently on an evolutionary scale, in oceanic pH.

    Is there the paleo equivalent to pH levels for oceans? I can’t find one offhand. I don’t want to read a study by activist scientists, though.

  39. The Idsos have a database of acidification impact studies:
    http://www.co2science.org/data/acidification/acidification.php

  40. Word play…
    In a greenhouse the temperature is mainly influenced by the suppressed convection.. it is just a confusing and incorrect term to describe the effect of CO2 in the atmosphere.
    The same with ocean acidification.. There are a number of comments here already pointing out if anything the oceans increased their pH over the last 250 mil years.
    So please, if you discuss an anthropogenic CO2 effect in the oceans, call it what it is: A surface effect.
    It is the first trick if esoterics, to obfuscate the meaning of words, so they can sell tachyon clothes and vortex treatments..
    Anyone (including the author and I am sad to say, also Judith) using the term “ocean acidification” and not talking about the whole ocean(s) has in my opinion already fallen for some charlatan’s spell!

    Ah, and if you are discussing only a surface effect, it would be important to know, how the rest of the oceans changed over the last century..
    I am aware, that you can trace the diffusion of anthropogenic CO2 into the deep ocean sea water, but I can imagine, that for example the end of the little ice age might have affected (and possibly still affects) the amount of CO2 transported by the golf stream or the wind patterns on top of the oceans, which might or might not have an impact on the atmospheric CO2 concentration.
    In other words, in order to prove a dominating anthropogenic CO2 effect on the sea surface water and atmosphere, it would be necessary to disprove a natural effect of equal of greater magnitude.

  41. Pingback: Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #198 | Watts Up With That?

  42. This below explains just how afraid of the truth and closed minded such people Greg Laden are and that also explains why they know nothing about this issue of anthropogenic global warming, or because there has been no warming for close to 19 years now it is climate change. I defended Judith Curry against a barrage of comments about her saying that “Hide”, “Trick” & “Decline” were well defined when Jones made these comments but this group of people could not understand that.

    John Swallow

    United States
    September 2, 2015
    This comment has been deleted because the commenter is an unrepentant ass who has nothing intelligent to say.

    John Swallow

    Thailand
    September 19, 2015
    This comment has been deleted because the commenter is an unrepentant ass who has nothing intelligent to say.

    Greg Laden

    September 30, 2015
    John Swallow, how dare you come on to my blog and say such an insulting thing to me?
    Your comments here are nothing but annoying and have no value whatsoever. You are a bad person. You have no filter, you have no sense, you are as dumb as a broken brick, and you have no redeeming qualities.
    And I will now make you disappear. Don’t come back.

    I wrote him an email asking what I had written that he found so insulting but never received an answer because it never happened. I assume these people who have no principles do not know that lying is not acceptable, unless one is an alarmist, then everything is OK, it seems. John Swallow

  43. here are some data that may be of some interest to this group
    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2669930