What causes ocean acidification is climate changes smoking gun. Around the world we are burning various fossil fuels for our vehicles, our power, our heat, ect. When burned all of these fossil fuels admit carbon into our atmosphere. Before the industrial revolution there was 280ppm (parts per million) of carbon in our atmosphere, today we have 400ppm. That’s an increase of nearly 50%. Last time the amount of carbon in our atmosphere increased by 50% it took 10,000 years, we have managed to pull it off in 200. Throughout earth’s history the climate has been constantly fluctuating. A warm spell here, an ice age there, but it changes very slowly over many millennia. A 50% increase in atmospheric carbon in 200 years is unprecedented and undisputable.
Our oceans acts a large carbon sink absorbing 25% of the carbon released into our atmosphere. You might think “well that’s good, at least something is reducing the amount carbon in our atmosphere”. Unfortunately as the ocean absorbs the carbon it changes the waters pH level. Now if this happened over 10,000 years the creatures living in the ocean would evolve to deal with this threat, but it’s happening way to quickly for evolution to keep up. The first things effected are shell fish and pretty much everything else that grows a calcium carbonate shell (including coral reefs). If the levels of pH continue to get thrown off balance the results could be devastating to our already struggling oceans.
If that isn’t bad enough the entire issue of climate change has been completely entangled in the volatile world of politics. Al Gore was the one who got it completely entangled to begin with in the early 2000’s but it was totally on accident. I’m sure everyone has heard of his documentary “inconvenient truth”. I really wish that it wasn’t Al Gore in that film, had it been John McCain or even better a resurrected Ronald Regan we wouldn’t have conservative climate change deniers. We live in a very strange time in politics where some politicians spend more time and energy trying to make the other party look bad instead of working together for the good of our country. This happens on both sides of the political spectrum. It’s not just the politicians who have adopted this attitude, it’s also spread to their constituency. I understand that people want to support their political party but this is what I don’t understand when it comes to climate change. So the scientists at the Smithsonian are wrong about climate change, the scientists at NASA are wrong about climate change, and the conservative politicians are right about climate change? That doesn’t make any sense.
I’m certainly not jumping on Al Gore’s band wagon. He talks all this and that about reducing your carbon footprint yet has a huge house with a huge property and is creating a large carbon footprint. He could have a nice house completely off the grid with solar panels and wind generators galore. He could have a plot of land where he grew his own vegetables and a barn with pigs and chickens. He wouldn’t need to tend to his crops of raise his own livestock, he’s rich, he could pay people to do it for him. I’m not trying to beat up on Al Gore and I’m glad he said something to begin with. It’s just if you champion a cause you should live it and breathe it, not just talk about it. It’s important to remember that at some level or another hypocrisy lives within us all. I know how sensitive people get about politics so I’ll just leave it at that.
So ocean acidification is caused by burning fossil fuels and collecting ocean acidification data is a big part of our 2015 Greenland Climate Project. We are working with Dr. Miller at Smithsonian’s environmental research center collecting pCO2 data (pCO2=carbon in the water). Usually when doing ocean acidification research people measure the waters pH but Dr. Miller is looking directly for the carbon itself. He built a device (check picture) that normally would be mounted on a dock and has tried to convert it to work on an ever moving sailboat. This is a bit of a test for this device as it’s never been used on a boat before and we are modifying it as necessary to keep it running. We hope to work out any bugs in the system so this device can be installed on other sailboats. We are trying to become a marine related citizen science hub for the Smithsonian’s environmental research center. This is one of two projects we hope to integrate into a citizen science platform. If you want to collect ocean acidification data from your boat contact us next year and hopefully we will have the funding to get people like you involved.
Since my last blog we have had very little fog and tons of icebergs. I bet I saw 100 of them in one day near Uummannaq. We stopped in Upernavik which was a nice and very quiet little town. It’s a good place to get fuel, water and fresh food. From here we head north, as far north as humanly possible. From this “furthest north position” we will start our deep water CTD casts, I’ll talk about that later. Well the wind is picking up, should have 20-25kts out of the south by this evening. Next stop Santa’s house, hope he has a dock.