Friday, February 05, 2010, 12:00PM - 1:00PM
INSTAAR and NOAA Paleoclimatology
Thirty percent of the carbon produced by man has entered the ocean where it lowers the pH and reduces the saturation with respect to calcium carbonate, the skeletal material of organisms ranging from plankton to corals. Negative effects on organisms have been forecast, however the calcification response varies among organisms and experiments. Effects observed in paleo proxies in response to changing saturation are consistent with reduced calcification, however no paleo changes equal the magnitude of change forecast by the end of the century. Dramatic changes appear inevitable for the ocean, beginning with the biological response and later including the dissolution of sedimentary calcium carbonate (shells and reefs). The ultimate fate of much of the anthropogenic carbon dioxide is neutralization by dissolving sedimentary calcium carbonate, returning the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere close to original levels over thousands of years.