Waters off California are acidifying twice as fast as the global average, scientists found, threatening major fisheries and sounding the alarm that the ocean can absorb only so much more of the world’s carbon emissions.
A study led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also made an unexpected connection between acidification and a climate cycle known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation — the same shifting forces that scientists say have a played a role in the faster rates of sea level rise hitting California in recent years. El Niño and La Niña cycles, researchers found, also add stress to these extreme changes in the ocean’s chemistry.
Researchers analyzed almost 2,000 shells of a tiny animal called foraminifera to reconstruct a 100-year history of acidification along the West Coast. The more acidic the ocean, the more difficult it is for shellfish to build their shells. So researchers measured the changes in thickness of these shells. “We can read the deposits like pages in a book,” said Emily Osborne, a NOAA researcher.
The scientists concluded that the waters off California had a 0.21 decline in pH over a 100-year period dating back to 1895 (the lower the pH, the greater the acidity.) This is more than double the decline — 0.1 pH — that scientists estimate the ocean has experienced on average worldwide.
Germans ready to pay to curb pollution
Germans say they’re ready pay a higher national levy on carbon pollution after utilities and policymakers joined climate activists in rebelling against proposed below-market rates deemed insufficient to fight climate change.
Lawmakers from Germany’s 16 states reached preliminary agreement to more than double a new tax on carbon dioxide emissions from transport and heating. Consumers in Europe’s biggest economy will now face a 25 euros ($27.85) a ton surcharge rather than the 10 euros a ton initially proposed. The pollution premium will rise to 55 euros by 2025.