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An Antidote for Ocean Acidification?

Posted by Logan Kozal | , United States

The ocean plays a critical role in taking up the anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) produced through human activity such as fossil fuel combustion. However, this excess CO2 changes the ocean chemistry lowering the pH and making the seawater more acidic. Recent studies have indicated the promising potential for submerged aquatic vegetation to remove CO2 from the water column via photosynthesis and sequester it beneath the substrate acting as long-term carbon storage sinks called ‘blue carbon’. This process can alter local water chemistry and elevate the pH thereby creating potential refuges from ocean acidification (OA). These aquatic vegetation habitats provide home to diverse biological communities of intrinsic and commercial value. Eelgrass beds specifically are important nurseries for juvenile fish and invertebrates and therefore crucial to fisheries recruitment.
Therefore, we need to investigate whether the buffering dynamics of these marine macrophyte habitats actually preserve the physiological performance of the resident organisms and assess the extent of their influence on the chemistry of the surrounding water. If these habitats seem to be a promising antidote to ocean acidification then we can push for further protection and restoration of these critical habitats. This action could help reduce the issue of ocean acidification and protect our valuable biodiversity and fishery resources for the future.

(image from Santa Barbara Channelkeeper)

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