Environment
5:30 am
Mon June 10, 2013

Gulf Of Maine At High Risk From Ocean Acidification

Commercial oyster cultivation has become the poster child of the impacts of Ocean acidification. Juvenile oysters melt away in just slightly acidic water, and on the west coast farmers have been struggling as climate change has resulted in more and more acidic oceans.
Credit Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Saturday was World Ocean Day. Coastal and Marine scientists used the occasion to highlight their growing concern over Ocean Acidification, and it’s impacts on New Hampshire.

The laws of thermodynamics dictate that as CO2 increases in the atmosphere, the ocean will absorb more CO2 as well. As that happens, the acidity of the ocean slowly begins to rise, which can start to dissolve the shells of young plankton, the foundation of the ocean’s food chain. 

And UNH scientist Joe Salisbury told a crowd at the Seacoast Science Center the Gulf of Maine might be especially at risk. "Colder water, fresher water, makes the Gulf of Maine Unique, that makes it very very sensitive to acidification," said Salisbury.

This puts many fisheries, like the $220 million dollar Gulf of Maine scallop industry at risk.

In a different room of the same event, attendees children learned about the same subject but in a more age-appropriate way. They made paper coccolithophores, a marine plant with a calcified shell that is at risk from ocean acidification.