4.3 Ocean Pollutants

4.3 Ocean Pollutants:

A major problem with maintaining sustainable oceans is the global contaminations from atmospheric and direct point source pollution.

Probably the greatest single issue that needs to be dealt with here is that of the possibility of opening up the Coastal areas for offshore drilling. Our ability to debate this is a good test of how serious we are about thinking about marine resource sustainability for the future.

As theSierra Club puts it:
http://www.sierraclub.ca/bc/programs/marine/issue.shtml?x=550&als[URL_ITEM]=24ad1fd0ec90a1265449091eeba17b55

  • “The ecological risks are too great.
    One oil spill like the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska would spell disaster for B.C.’s marine life. Exploration techniques like seismic testing have serious ecological consequences.
  •  Current environmental regulations are inadequate.
    Our provincial environmental regulations have been gutted. Federal legislation such as the Species at Risk Act is toothless. We lack a regime that can protect the natural environment.
  • B.C. needs to look beyond fossil fuel energy sources.
    Developing B.C.’s offshore oil and gas will mean committing to an energy source that has proven to be unsustainable. Canada has to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to meet Kyoto targets. We need to invest in alternative energy sources now.”

OTHER CHEMICAL CONTAMINANTS harmful in the Marine Environment

Below are portrayed the records of some countries with good news stories. Find as many of these as possible to show that it is possible to do things right. Also see the section on types of demos and take aways for related ideas.
Reference: From:” WATER” http://www.unep.org/geo/geo4/report/04_Water.pdf

“Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are synthetic organic chemicals that have wide-ranging human and environmental impacts (see Chapters 2, 3 and 6). In the late 1970s, studies of the North American Great Lakes highlighted the existence of older, obsolete chlorinated pesticides (so-called legacy chemicals) in sediments and fish (PLUARG 1978). As regulations curtailing their use were implemented, chemical levels have declined in some water systems since the early 1980s (see Chapter 6) (see Box 6.28). Similar declines have since been observed in China and the Russian Federation (see Figure 4.10). The estimated production of hazardous organic chemical-based pollutants in the United States by industry alone is more than 36 billion kilogrammes/ year, with about 90 per cent of these chemicals not being disposed of in an environmentally responsible manner (WWDR 2006). The chemicals in pesticides can also contaminate drinking water through agricultural run-off. There is growing concern about the potential impacts on aquatic ecosystems of personal-care products and pharmaceuticals such as birth-control residues, painkillers and antibiotics. Little is known about their long-term impacts on human or ecosystem health, although some may be endocrine disruptors. Some heavy metals in water and sediments accumulate in the tissues of humans and other organisms. Arsenic, mercury and lead in drinking water, fish and some crops consumed by humans have caused increased rates of chronic diseases. Marine monitoring conducted since the early 1990s in Europe indicates decreasing cadmium, mercury and lead concentrations in mussels and fish from both the northeast Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. Most North Sea states achieved the 70 per cent reduction target for these metals, except for copper, and tributyltin (EEA 2003). Although occurring in some inland locations, such as the Upper Amazon, oil pollution remains primarily a marine problem, with major impacts on seabirds and other marine life, and on aesthetic quality. With reduced oil inputs from marine transportation, and with vessel operation and design improvements, estimated oil inputs into the marine environment are declining (UNEP-GPA 2006a) (see Figure 4.11), although in the ROPME Sea Area about 270 000 tonnes of oil are still spilled annually in ballast water. The total oil load to the ocean includes 3 per cent from accidental spills from oil platforms, and 13 per cent from oil transportation spills (National Academy of Sciences 2003). Despite international efforts, solid waste and litter problems continue to worsen in both freshwater and marine systems, as a result of inappropriate disposal of non- or slowly degradable materials from land-based and marine sources (UNEP 2005a).”

4.5 Beach or Coastal Modification and Implications

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4.3 Oxygen Depletion in the Ocean

OXYGEN DEPLETION: A harmful algal bloom of the dinoflagellates Noctiluca scintillans, known as a red tide Organic materials, from such sources as algal blooms and discharges from domestic wastewater treatment plants and food-processing operations, are decomposed by oxygen-consuming microbes in waterbodies. This pollution is typically measured as the biochemical oxygen demand (BOD). High BOD levels can cause oxygen depletion, jeopardizing fish and other aquatic species. Lake Erie’s oxygen- depleted bottom zone, for example, has expanded since 1998, with negative environmental impacts. Some coastal areas also undergo oxygen depletion, including the eastern and southern coasts of North America, southern coasts of China and Japan, and large areas around Europe (WWAP 2006).

  • From: Research Document – 2012/072

State of physical, biological, and selected fishery resources of Pacific Canadian marine ecosystems in 2011

By J.R. Irvine and W.R. Crawford

Scientists have reported alarmingly low oxygen concentrations in near-shore waters of the Oregon coast in summer, being in 2002 and most severely in 2006. High crab mortalities on the ocean bottom took place in these summers. Low oxygen concentrations (less than 1 ml/L) have also been observed on off southwest Vancouver Island since 2002, with concentrations of 0.7 ml/L at 150 metres depth recorded in 2006 and 2009, the lowest in the 50-year record. Concentration was 1.0 and 1.1 ml/L in 2010 and 2011, respectively. Hypoxia on the Canadian shelf is much less severe than off Oregon and Washington, and mortality of bottom life has not been reported.

  • From swissinfo.ch : Oceans could run out of oxygen

by Isobel Leybold-Johnson, swissinfo.ch
Feb 11, 2012 – 14:03

Global warming could lead to more of the world’s oceans becoming “dead zones” – where a lack of oxygen leads to marine life dying out.

This was the conclusion of recent analysis of marine oxygen conditions over the past 20,000 years, co-authored by the Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ).

Oceans are already oxygen-starved in places: every summer some areas of the northeastern Pacific see huge numbers of dead fish, shrimp or molluscs washed up on beaches.

This is caused by marine animals suffocating because the water contains too little of the vital O2 they need to breathe – or none at all. It is not only an ecological problem, the local fishing industry is affected as well.

Currently around 15 per cent of oceans are considered oxygen-depleted or anoxic “dead zones”.

“There’s been a very longstanding debate about the influence of global warming on the concentration of oxygen in the ocean, basically because the ocean oxygen concentration measurements of the past decades have not been very conclusive,” Samuel Jaccard from the ETHZ’s Geological Institute told swissinfo.ch.

This is why Jaccard and Eric Galbraith from McGill University in Canada decided to go back in time and reconstruct how the oxygen content has changed in oceans in the past 20,000 years, with the focus on the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Temperature rise

Their study, published in Nature Geoscience, showed that the average global temperature rise of around at least two degrees Celsius between the peak and the end of the last Ice Age (between about 10,000-20,000 years ago) had a massive effect on the oxygen content of seawater.

“The warmer the global average temperature, the more extended the oxygen minimum zones are, so the volume of these oxygen-poor water bodies is more extended during warm periods than in cold periods,” Jaccard said.

What is worrying is that, currently, global average temperature is predicted to rise by at least two degrees in the coming century due to climate change. This is of a similar magnitude to the warming the planet has undergone since the last Ice Age 20,000 years ago.

“So we would assume that if, indeed, temperatures are increasing in the next 100 years, these oxygen minimum zones would also increase in volume and that the general oxygen concentration of the ocean will decrease,” Jaccard said.

And what is more: “our analysis has shown that not only was absolute temperature important, but also the rate of change, so the faster the warming, the more expanded these zones are”.

Oxygen in seawater mainly comes from gas exchange between the water’s surface and the atmosphere. As temperatures at the surface increase, the dissolved oxygen supply below the surface gets used up more quickly. It’s a little like turning down the oxygen pump in a fish tank, says Jaccard.

Suffering oceans

Dead zones are a topic well known to green campaigners and are not just limited to the biodiversity-rich deep oceans, explains Jochen Lamp, a marine expert at WWF in Germany.
 
They also affect the shallow seas like the Baltic Sea, which are subject to eutrophication: when nutrients from the land and agriculture cause over-enrichment of the water and the growth of algal blooms. These blooms then deplete the water’s oxygen.

But whereas it is easier to tackle shallow seas dead zones by controlling nutrient input, such as by having low nutrient agriculture, climate change adaptation is “a much more long lasting and complicated process”, said Lamp.

Even if countries such as Switzerland can agree on measures – the Rio+20 conference on sustainable development is scheduled for June – the change in the trend may not be seen for 50-70 years, he added.

Overall the world’s oceans are suffering: there is also overfishing and the other effects of climate change like the acidification of the waters.

Oceans are a delicately balanced ecosystem. “We hope that the balance will re-establish, but there is a lot of human impact in this imbalance and we do not yet know what will happen in reality during the next decades,” warned Lamp.

Isobel Leybold-Johnson, swissinfo.ch

Jaccard SL & Galbraith ED. Large climate-driven changes of oceanic oxygen concentrations during the last deglaciation.

The article was published online in Nature Geoscience on December 18, 2011. The research was highlighted in the ETH Life journal in January 2012.

Deep water in the North Pacific Ocean already has the most acidic water in the global ocean and the British Columbia continental shelf might see negative impacts of this feature sooner than most oceanic waters.

Oxygen depletion in the Gulf of Mexico has created a huge ‘dead zone,’ with major negative impacts on biodiversity and fisheries (MA 2005) (see Chapter 6).

4.4 Ocean Pollutants

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4.1 Sensors and the Collection of Physical Data

I have listed here a number of ways to monitor physical factors of ecosystems at various levels and locations. [blockquote]

  • Local monitors of all exhibit tanks to show different parameters.
    • oxygen levels of aerated vs bottom muds
    • ph change as photosynthesis changes in a green pool
    • set up a green tank highly enriched with nutrients for this
    • have a “convertible tank” where automatic changes can be introduced which then can register abiotic changes on the instruments. This provides great opportunities for schools to do research. For instance a tank may have a screen barrier separating two populations of fish or invertebrates. Oxygen, Co2 pH and other sensors monitors the whole tank. At periodic intervals, a gate is lowered seperating the water bodies of the two tanks, on the monitors, digital or graphics show a timeline and the change in physical factors contrasting the opposing sides.
    • demo of currents feeding barnacles.. ie dependence on that factors
  • Remote site monitors.
    • interactive modelling with temperature data from Race Rocks.. and implications for global change.
    • atmospheric and oceanographic sensors monitoring at Race Rocks.
    • Links and interpretations to physical measurements in real time from the Venus sub-sea research program.
    • Links and interpretations to physical measurements in real time from the Neptune sub-sea research program.
    • Links to the Victoria weather network... school contribution a part of this.[blockquote]

     

  • Index
  • 4.2 The importance of pH. ( ocean Acidification)

4.2 The Importance of pH

The Importance of pH:
The issue of ocean Acidification linked to Climate Change now has a a serious implication for Shellfish Producers. Their website reflects these concerns: http://bcsga.ca/ocean-acidification/

oceanprofileA few physical factors have a disproportionate effect on the distribution of organisms and the fact that humans play a large role in their modification means that their effects on the sustainability of ecosystems is rather importantaragonite, ph
Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat Research Document – 2008/013 State of physical, biological, and selected fishery resources of Pacific Canadian marine ecosystems(Page 37 of pdf file) Ocean acidification off the West Coast by Debby Ianson, Fisheries and Oceans Canada “Global oceans are becoming more acidic due to increasing carbon dioxide (Orr et al. 2005). Much of the extra CO2 released by burning fossil fuels ends up in the oceans, increasing the dissolved inorganic carbon concentration (DIC). As DIC increases, the relative proportions of carbon species shift (specifically from the carbonate ion to the bicarbonate ion), resulting in an increase in acidity and a decrease in pH (Strum and Morgan, 1981).

At present the pH of seawater has decreased by about 0.1 due to oceanic uptake of anthropogenic carbon and is projected to decrease by 0.4 by the year 2050 (Orr et al. 2005). The decrease in pH (and concurrent decrease in carbonate ion) means that organisms that produce calcite and aragonite shells or structures, such as pteropods, corals and shellfish, are threatened (The Royal Society, 2005).” “Very few data from the carbonate system have been collected on the Canadian west coast; however these few observations show that Juan de Fuca Strait and the Vancouver Island Coastal Current experience high pCO2 water due to tidal mixing in the Strait, which brings water high in DIC and low in pH to the surface (Ianson et al. 2003). An additional study with high spatial resolution confirms the high surface pCO2 (400 — 800 ppm; Nemcek et al, in press) in this area estimated by Ianson et al. (2003) but has no complimentary measurements (such as DIC) with which to determine pH in the Strait.”

From “WATER: http://www.unep.org/geo/geo4/report/04_Water.pdf Rainwater and ocean acidification Acidity in rainwater is caused by the dissolution of atmospheric CO2, as well as by atmospheric transport and deposition of nitrogen and sulphur compounds (see Chapters 2 and 3). This is important because biological productivity is closely linked to acidity (see Chapter 3). The box on acidifying cycles in Chapter 3 describes some of the impacts of acid deposition on the world’s forests and lakes. The oceans have absorbed about half of the global CO2 emissions to the atmosphere over the past 200years (see Chapter 2), resulting in the increasing acidification of ocean waters (The Royal Society 2005). Acidification will continue, regardless of any immediate reduction in emissions. Additional acidification would take place if proposals to release industrially produced and compressed CO2 at or above the deep sea floor are put into practice (IPCC 2005). To date, injection of CO2 into seawater has been investigated only in small-scale laboratory experiments and models. Although the effects of increasing CO2 concentration on marine organisms would have ecosystem consequences, no controlledecosystem experiments have been performed in the deep ocean nor any environmental thresholds identified. The impacts of ocean acidification are speculative, but could be profound, constraining or even preventing the growth of marine animals such as corals and plankton. They could affect global food security via changes in ocean food webs, and, at the local scale, negatively affect the potential of coral reefs for dive tourism and for protecting coastlines against extreme wave events. It is presently unclear how species and ecosystems will adapt to sustained, elevated CO2 levels (IPCC 2005). Projections give reductions in average global surface ocean pH (acidity) values of between 0.14and 0.35units over the 21st century, adding to the present decrease of 0.1 units since pre-industrial times(IPCC 2007). Managing water issues related to climate change Global-scale changes to the water environment associated with climate change include higher sea surface temperatures, disruption of global ocean currents, changes in regional and local precipitation patterns, and ocean acidification. These issues are typically addressed through global efforts, such as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol (see Chapter 2). Management at the global level involves numerous actions at regional, national and local scales. Many global conventions and treaties are implemented on this basis, with their effectiveness depending on the willingness of individual countries to contribute to their achievement. Because these changes are linked to other environmental issues (for example, land use and biodiversity), they must also be addressed by other binding or non-binding treaties and instruments (see Chapter 8). Major responses to the drivers of climate change – primarily the increased burning of fossil fuels for energy – are analysed in Chapter 2. These responses are generally at the international level, and require concerted action by governments over the long-term, involving legal and market- driven approaches. Focus is on responses to climate change-related impacts affecting the water environment that involve regulation, adaptation and restoration

Pacific Ocean acid levels jeopardizing marine life

Vancouver Island researchers use artificial tide pools to study threat
From CBC News
Posted: Jul 17, 2012 2:17 AM PT
Last Updated: Jul 17, 2012 12:19 PM PT

Very few data from the carbonate system have been collected on the Canadian west coast; however these few observations show that Juan de Fuca Strait and the Vancouver
Island Coastal Current experience high pCO2 water due to tidal mixing in
the Strait, which brings water high in DIC and low in pH to the surface
(Ianson et al. 2003).

An additional study with high spatial resolution
confirms the high surface pCO2 (400 — 800 ppm; Nemcek et al, in press) in
this area estimated by Ianson et al. (2003) but has no complimentary
measurements (such as DIC) with which to determine pH in the Strait.”
The foillowing is taken from the publication:”WATER”
http://www.unep.org/geo/geo4/report/04_Water.pdf”

Rainwater and ocean acidification : Acidity in rainwater is caused by the dissolution
of atmospheric CO2, as well as by atmospheric transport and deposition of
nitrogen and sulphur compounds (see Chapters 2 and 3). This is important
because biological productivity is closely linked to acidity (see Chapter
3). The box on acidifying cycles in Chapter 3 describes some of the
impacts of acid deposition on the world’s forests and lakes. The oceans
have absorbed about half of the global CO2 emissions to the atmosphere
over the past 200years (see Chapter 2), resulting in the increasing
acidification of ocean waters (The Royal Society 2005). Acidification will
continue, regardless of any immediate reduction in emissions. Additional
acidification would take place if proposals to release industrially
produced and compressed CO2 at or above the deep sea floor are put into
practice (IPCC 2005). To date, injection of CO2 into seawater has been
investigated only in small-scale laboratory experiments and models.
Although the effects of increasing CO2 concentration on marine organisms
would have ecosystem consequences, no controlled ecosystem experiments have
been performed in the deep ocean nor any environmental thresholds
identified. The impacts of ocean acidification are speculative, but could
be profound, constraining or even preventing the growth of marine animals
such as corals and plankton. They could affect global food security via
changes in ocean food webs, and, at the local scale, negatively affect the
potential of coral reefs for dive tourism and for protecting coastlines
against extreme wave events. It is presently unclear how species and
ecosystems will adapt to sustained, elevated CO2 levels (IPCC 2005).
Projections give reductions in average global surface ocean pH (acidity)
values of between 0.14and 0.35units over the 21st century, adding to the
present decrease of 0.1 units since pre-industrial times(IPCC 2007).

Managing water issues related to climate change Global-scale changes to the water
environment associated with climate change include higher sea surface
temperatures, disruption of global ocean currents, changes in regional and
local precipitation patterns, and ocean acidification. These issues are
typically addressed through global efforts, such as the UN Framework
Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol (see Chapter 2).
Management at the global level involves numerous actions at regional,
national and local scales. Many global conventions and treaties are
implemented on this basis, with their effectiveness depending on the
willingness of individual countries to contribute to their achievement.
Because these changes are linked to other environmental issues (for
example, land use and biodiversity), they must also be addressed by other
binding or non-binding treaties and instruments (see Chapter 8). Major
responses to the drivers of climate change – primarily the increased
burning of fossil fuels for energy – are analyzed in Chapter 2. These
responses are generally at the international level, and require concerted
action by governments over the long-term, involving legal and market-
driven approaches. Focus is on responses to climate change-related impacts
affecting the water environment that involve regulation, adaptation and
restoration .

4.3 Oxygen depletion

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