These tasty fish are more likely to get eaten when stressed

As human populations continue to rise, especially along coastlines, the occurrence of various stressors tend to increase. This study explored the ability of a commercially important species, the European seabass, to recover following short term exposure to these stressors by evaluating their predator avoidance behavior. In short, acidic waters led to greater risk-taking behavior in these fish, which can have serious implications for their survival in a changing world.

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Out of balance: how climate change is altering ocean food webs

Climate change has a number of impacts on the ocean. Did you know that the ocean absorbs at least one quarter of the carbon dioxide that is released into the atmosphere? As the ocean absorbs carbon, the chemistry of the water itself is changed in a process known as ocean acidification. Ocean acidification can make it harder for organisms with shells to grow and thrive, but can benefit photosynthetic algae that need carbon dioxide to grow. Climate change is also warming the oceans, which impacts the metabolism of all organisms. A recent study from Southern Australia reported that ocean acidification boosted algae, herbivores, and fish predators in a trophic food chain, but when ocean warming was introduced, these impacts were reversed. This research highlights how the complex stressors of climate change may result in food webs that are out of balance.

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What happened to the Great Barrier Reef in 2016?

In 2016, a severe coral reef bleaching event killed ~30% of the corals in the Great Barrier Reef. Abnormally warm global ocean temperatures are becoming more common and intense which will increase the frequency of bleaching events. Forward-looking projections indicate potential coral reef benefits associated with moving toward lower greenhouse gas emission futures. How do we get there?

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Can seaweed farming help fight climate change?

Seaweed farming is the fastest growing sector of food production and provides healthy, nutritious sea vegetables. Farming seaweed can also have positive benefits by decreasing wave action, taking up carbon dioxide, and locally reducing the effects of ocean acidification. Spatial planning, market analyses, and infrastructure development are needed to facilitate the expansion of seaweed aquaculture.

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Ocean acidification in the face of many environmental stressors

Greenhouse gas emissions are acidifying the ocean. The progressive decrease in ocean pH, or ocean acidification, is impacting ecosystems across the globe. Despite our understanding of the severity of ocean acidification’s impacts on individual species, the story is more complicated. We must also consider more broadly how ocean acidification affects ecosystems that are also exposed to a variety of other stressors such as changes in temperature and oxygen, coastal nutrient input, fishing, and ocean commercial transportation. It is critical that future adaptation and mitigation strategies consider how these co-occurring stressors interact with one another.

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Are we headed for a sixth mass extinction?

A mass extinction is an event in which the world very rapidly loses a large number of its living species. You’ve probably heard of the mass extinction that occurred sixty-five million years ago, when an asteroid crashed near Mexico and led to the extinction of the dinosaurs. There have been four other mass extinctions in the last 500 million years, and each has resulted in the loss of at least 60% of living species. In a recent study, Professor Daniel Rothman at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology argues that human activities – specifically our inundating the atmosphere with carbon – may result in a sixth mass extinction.

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Ocean Acidification is in the Spotlight. How Can We Address Its Impacts?

The ocean has become 30% more acidic since the Industrial Revolution. This continuing change in ocean pH, or ocean acidification, will likely impact the economies of coastal communities. The science community must work together with industry, policymakers, other science disciplines, and coastal communities to find practical and applicable solutions to address the environmental impacts of ocean acidification. This integrated approach is known as transdisciplinary science and seeks to understand the interactions among ocean acidification, the ecosystem, and society.

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Ocean Acidification Steps into the Spotlight

The ocean absorbs nearly a quarter of the carbon dioxide humans emit. Since the Industrial Revolution the ocean has become 30% more acidic. This change in ocean carbon chemistry, or ocean acidification, has the potential to impact many socioeconomic resources. An increased scientific understanding of these risks has illustrated the need for collaboration across many disciplines to develop realistic solutions to mitigate the rising threat to vital marine resources. Transdisciplinary science will be critical in informing policy to protect our economic interests.

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