Oceans are highly complex ecosystems and every change of the characteristics can influence the well-being of marine life forms. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a research report focused on one marine characteristic, the ocean acidity level. The results say the level of acidity increases and might soon start influencing the development of some of the most important resources for specific parts of the world. Alaska is state economically dependent on crab fishing, but mollusk and other creatures will soon suffer because of oceans acidification.
Ocean plastic pollution is at a currently lower level than expected, according to another recent research. But the overall level of pollution increases, whether it is direct, through plastic disposal or indirect, through carbon emissions.
Ocean acidity level might increase in the next century up to ten times more than the last 250 years
Human produced carbon dioxide emissions exert a strong influence over the acidity level, according to the research. Burned fossil fuel is the main culprit. Other studies have shown that red king crab, as well as tanner crab, take longer to grow in more acidic water, Business Week says. Alaska might be the first to be hit by the effects of ocean acidification because of another reason. Ocean water generally absorbs carbon dioxide, but colder waters absorb it at a faster pace. Moreover, currents can bring acidic water to the surface.
The industrial revolution brought about the change in carbon dioxide emissions. Compared to pre-industrial levels, the acidic levels are now up to 30 percent higher. The problem is that the acidity level could increase up to 300 percent until the end of the century, according to oceanographer Jeremy Mathis, co-author of the study. The influence of acidic waters on the growth of crabs has not been observed in the wild yet, but with prospected dramatic changes in the near future, it might be quite visible. Commercial fishing brought $4.6 billion for the companies in 2009. Tourism fishing is important too, with half of the total Alaskan tourism income. Over 100.000 jobs in Alaska are located in the fishing industry alone.
So if ecological problems in themselves stemming from increased ocean acidity level do not manage to capture attention, maybe numbers pointing the direct potential economic loss will do. A large number of smaller communities in Alaska might suffer because of higher seawater acidity. As they heavily rely on fishing to support themselves, alternative economical projects must be prepared.