Tag Archives: acidification

Before Dinosaurs’ Era, Volcanic Eruptions Triggered Mass Extinction

Increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide, global warming, ocean acidification killed 76 percent of species on Earth

More than 200 million years ago, a massive extinction decimated 76 percent of marine and terrestrial species, marking the end of the Triassic period and the onset of the Jurassic.

The event cleared the way for dinosaurs to dominate Earth for the next 135 million years, taking over ecological niches formerly occupied by other marine and terrestrial species.

It’s not clear what caused the end-Triassic extinction, although most scientists agree on a likely scenario. (more…)

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Researchers Share Surprising Discovery about Coral Reef Ecology

Researchers at the UH Manoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) made a discovery that challenges a major theory in the field of coral reef ecology.

The general assumption has been that the more flexible corals are, regarding which species of single-celled algae (Symbiodinium) they host in coral tissues, the greater ability corals will have to survive environmental stress. In their paper published August 29, 2012, however, scientists at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) at SOEST and colleagues documented that the more flexible corals are, the more sensitive to environment disturbances they are. (more…)

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Crowd Funding on Campus: UW Scientists Raise Money for Research Online

When Rachel Aronson travels this month to Alaska, she and a local research assistant will interview people who are in danger of being displaced by climate change. She will also send about 100 postcards to her funders.

Aronson is among a growing number of University of Washington students, faculty and staff who are using online campaigns to pay for their research. Crowdsourcing uses the Internet to broadcast a question and pool the answers; crowd funding uses the Internet to post an idea and ask people to pony up money to make it a reality. (more…)

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Acid Rain Study Show Substantial Decreases, But More Progress is Needed

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Measurable improvements in air quality and visibility, human health, and water quality in many acid-sensitive lakes and streams, have been achieved through emissions reductions from electric generating power plants and resulting decreases in acid rain. These are some of the key findings in a report to Congress by the National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program, a cooperative federal program.

The report shows that since the establishment of the Acid Rain Program, under Title IV of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, there have been substantial reductions in sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions from power plants that use fossil fuels like coal, gas and oil, which are known to be the primary causes of acid rain. As of 2009, emissions of SO2 and NOx declined by about two-thirds relative to levels in the 1990s. These emissions levels declined even further in 2010, according to recent data compiled by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (more…)

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Sea Cucumbers: Dissolving Coral Reefs?

Washington, D.C. — Coral reefs are extremely diverse ecosystems that support enormous biodiversity. But they are at risk. Carbon dioxide emissions are acidifying the ocean, threatening reefs and other marine organisms. New research led by Carnegie’s Kenneth Schneider analyzed the role of sea cucumbers in portions of the Great Barrier Reef and determined that their  dietary process of dissolving calcium carbonate (CaCO3) from the surrounding reef accounts for about half of at the total nighttime dissolution for the reef. The work is published December 23 by the Journal of Geophysical Research.

Reefs are formed through the biological deposition of calcium carbonate (CaCO3). Many of the marine organisms living on and around a reef contribute to either its destruction or construction. Therefore it is crucial that the amount of calcium carbonate remain in balance. When this delicate balance is disrupted, the reef ceases to grow and its foundations can be weakened. (more…)

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New Tool Offers Unprecedented Access for Root Studies

Stanford, CA — Plant roots are fascinating plant organs – they not only anchor the plant, but are also the world’s most efficient mining companies. Roots live in darkness and direct the activities of the other organs, as well as interact with the surrounding environment. Charles Darwin posited in The Power of Movement of Plants that the root system acts as a plant’s brain.

Due to the difficulty of accessing root tissue in intact live plants, research of these hidden parts has always lagged behind research on the more visible parts of plants. But now: a new technology–developed jointly by Carnegie and Stanford University–could revolutionize root research. The findings will be published in the large-scale biology section of the December issue of The Plant Cell. (more…)

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Acid Rain Poses a Previously Unrecognized Threat to Great Lakes Sugar Maples

ANN ARBOR, Mich.— The number of sugar maples in Upper Great Lakes forests is likely to decline in coming decades, according to University of Michigan ecologists and their colleagues, due to a previously unrecognized threat from a familiar enemy: acid rain.

Over the past four decades, sugar maple abundance has declined in some regions of the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada, due largely to acidification of calcium-poor granitic soils in response to acid rain. (more…)

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