Scientists from the U.S., Mexico, and Cuba met to start combating acidification in the Gulf of Mexic
Acidification is “not terribly bad right now” in the Gulf, but due to climate change, the water will likely become more acidic in the future. This threatens the estimated $2.04 trillion annual marine economy.
A team of international scientists from along the Gulf of Mexico in the U.S., Mexico, and Cuba recently met to start addressing the socioeconomic impacts of ocean acidification — that’s when carbon dioxide from the atmosphere changes the pH balance of a water body.
Jorge Brenner, the executive director of the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System, said that the more acidic water becomes, the more difficult it is for some marine organisms to produce hardened structures.
"In the case of [an] oyster, well, that's the shell. In the case of a shrimp, that's the exoskeleton. The case of a coral is the whole organism that depends on the structure that they create. So, as water becomes more acidic, those structures might be more brittle and not able to be as hard as they typically are in more neutral waters," Brenner said.
He said acidification is “not terribly bad right now” in the Gulf, but due to climate change, the water will likely become more acidic in the future. Brenner added that the water moves and is continuous, so it’s not going to be the same everywhere along the Gulf.
“Different shallow areas, or deeper areas, or areas where there is more current and water masses move more might have a better way to cope with acidification,” Brenner said.
The U.S., Mexico, and Cuba will each be impacted differently during each season, he said.
“As the was the warm waters come into the Gulf of Mexico — early in the summer, for example — Mexico might be affected sooner than the United States, but eventually that will potentially revert as we get into the fall and the winter … It's a highly dynamic medium that allows for all of our coastal regions to be impacted,” Brenner said.
Ocean acidification poses a threat to the Gulf’s marine economy, which is estimated to have a combined value of $2.04 trillion per year across the U.S., Mexico, and Cuba.