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Ocean Acidification Promotes Disruptive and Harmful Algal Blooms on Our Coasts

The general decline in ocean pH (i.e., more acidic conditions) from the increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) is well documented. Also well documented are increased nutrients entering coastal waters often promoting excessive and ecosystem disruptive algae blooms, including harmful algal blooms. The decay of these coastal blooms promotes bacterial respiration resulting in increased CO2, lower pH, and low oxygen conditions.

At the recent 7th Symposium on Harmful Algal Blooms in the U.S., Dr. Christopher Gobler of Stony Brook University spoke on the often overlooked feedback and outcomes of acidifying sea water, high nutrients, and low oxygen levels. Dr. Gobler’s NCCOS-sponsored research shows that nutrient loading and acidification promote growth and increased toxicity of the red tide algal species Alexandrium fundyense. He also found evidence the destructive brown tide species Aureococcus anophagefferens and Aureoumbra lagunensis self-manipulate the pH, oxygen, and CO2 levels in their surrounding environment to promote their blooms at the expense of  benign phytoplankton.

For more information, contact Elizabeth.Turner@noaa.gov.

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Shorter web link for sharing: http://coastalscience.noaa.gov/news/?p=10598

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