An Alaskan Marine Scientist from the University of Fairbanks states that Alaskan waters are turning acidic from absorbing greenhouse gases, faster than tropical waters. This has the potential to threaten Alaska’s 4.6 billion dollar fishing industry. Mr. Jeremy Mathis is quoted in the Anchorage Daily News as saying “Ecosystems in Alaska are going to take a hit from ocean acidification”
Some of the effects of global warming include melting glaciers and coastal erosion, both of which Alaskan is experiencing. Ocean acidification is closely linked to increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The ocean plays a very important role in absorbing carbon dioxide in fact it absorbs 22 million tonnes from human activities on a daily basis.
Last spring scientists collected water from the gulf of Alaska and the Bering and Chukchi sea’s and discovered that it was more acidic than usual.
Marine creatures use calcium carbonate to built their skeletons. But when levels of carbon dioxide are high, it gets dissolved as carbonic acid and decreases calcium carbonate. This is a worry as crabs and other organisms need calcium carbonate for their shells. However so far they have been able to adapt to the acidity.
Another factor is the fact that Alaskan waters are shallow and mix less with deeper oceans this in turn increases acidity. It is well known that this year fewer salmon have returned home to spawn, while it is not clear if it is related to the acidity of the ocean, the ecosystems are stressed.
The university plans to study the effects of increased acidity on pollock so we understand more.