An oceanographer for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Network says Southeast Alaska is likely to face quicker impact from growing ocean water acidity than other parts of the world.
Jessica Cross, of NOAA’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC) said during a public presentation hosted by the network on Feb. 20 in Juneau, Alaska, that Southeast Alaska waters are uniquely positioned to be particularly susceptible to ocean acidification, which occurs when water absorbs carbon dioxide causing it to become more acidic.
According to Cross, there are a few reasons for that. One of them is glacial discharge. The second reason is the communities themselves. The same communities which rely on threatened species or threatened marine resources for economic value, cultural perspectives or subsistence food sources.
There are also factors which contribute in making the water in Southeast Alaska naturally more acidic, she stated. Because Alaska is near the end of what is known as the global ocean conveyor belt, the water has more time to absorb carbon dioxide by the time it reaches Alaska and colder temperatures also contribute to the increased absorption rate.
NOAA’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center is engaged in ongoing studies on the impact of growing ocean acidification on fish, crab, clams, phytoplankton and other ocean life. Bob Foy, director of AFSC, previously noted that while some species seem more susceptible to ocean acidification, it may not be bad for all, and that it is still uncertain how various ocean life will be impacted in the coming years.