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Evidence for upwelling of corrosive "acidified" water onto the Continental Shelf

Richard A. Feely1*, Christopher L. Sabine1, J. Martin Hernandez-Ayon2, Debby Ianson3, Burke Hales4

1Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Seattle, WA 98115–6349, USA
2Instituto de Investigaciones Oceanologicas, Universidad Autonoma de Baja California, Km. 103 Carr. Tijuana-Ensenada, Ensenada, Baja Calivornia, MEXICO
3Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Institute of Ocean Science, Post Office Box 6000, Sidney, BC V8L 4B2, CANADA
4College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, 104 Ocean Administration Building, Corvallis, OR 97331-5503, USA

Science, 320(5882), 10.1126/science.1155676, 1490–1492 (2008)
Copyright ©2008 by The American Association for the Advancement of Science. Further electronic distribution is not allowed.


The absorption of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) into the ocean lowers the pH of the waters. This so-called ocean acidification could have important consequences for marine ecosystems. To better understand the extent of this ocean acidification in coastal waters, we conducted hydrographic surveys along the continental shelf of western North America from central Canada to northern Mexico. We observed seawater that is undersaturated with respect to aragonite upwelling onto large portions of the continental shelf, reaching depths of ~40 to 120 meters along most transect lines and all the way to the surface on one transect off northern California. Although seasonal upwelling of the undersaturated waters onto the shelf is a natural phenomenon in this region, the ocean uptake of anthropogenic CO2 has increased the areal extent of the affected area.

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