How does rising atmospheric CO2 affect marine organisms?

Click to locate material archived on our website by topic

Volume 1 Number 1:  15 September 1998

Much Ado About Tiny Temperature Trends: The possible identification of an error in the evaluation of the satellite temperature record that could turn earth's post-1979 temperature trend from a cooling to a warming diverts our attention from the more crucial tasks of trying to determine the cause of the global warming of the past century and the significance of the many direct biological impacts of atmospheric CO2 enrichment.

Journal Reviews
Volcanism: A 600-Year Influence on Temperature: A study of tree-ring densities from 380 boreal forest locations shows that large negative Northern Hemispheric temperature anomalies typically follow large volcanic eruptions, compromising our ability to unequivocally determine the effects of other climate-forcing factors that may have varied in the past or that are changing now.

Stratospheric Impacts on the Troposphere: A search of meteorological databases has revealed a number of situations where stratospheric process distortions have induced anomalies in tropospheric dynamics.  This cause-and-effect relationship is not incluede in the GCMs that are currently used to predict future climate, which can only weaken their credibility in terms of making real-world representations.

Atmospheric CO2 and the Chemical Weathering of Soils: Although it is not the conclusion of the authors of this paper, the calculations and observations described in this study tend to suggest that the propensity for an increase in atmospheric CO2 to warm the earth may be much less than what is currently being predicted by state-of-the-art general circulation models of the atmosphere.

Detecting a Human Influence on Weather: Analyses of two gaseous pollutants, rainfall, and tropical cyclone windspeeds and central pressures in the northwest Atlantic Ocean all reveal weekly periodicities that would seem to be attributable to the weekly cycle of human activities on the eastern seaboard of the United States.  This putative human influence on regional climate appears to be reducing the intensities of coastal tropical cyclones on weekends as compared to weekdays, while it (or something else) appears to have reduced their intensities over the 51-year period of the study.

Orbital Effects on Satellite Temperatures: Lower-troposphere satellite-derived temperature data are examined for the influence of orbital decay.  When applying a correction for orbital decay, linear trends in these data change from -0.05C per decade to +0.07C per decade.

Effects of Atmospheric CO2 on Potato: In an Italian study of CO2 effects on potato that utilized Free-Air-CO2-Enrichment (FACE) technology, elevated CO2 enhanced net photosynthesis, total nonstructural carbohydrate concentration and yield of potato.  It also induced earlier flowering and accelerated senescence, thereby reducing the time the crop was in the field.

CO2 and Plant Root Growth: In a growth chamber study of the small, fast-growing Arabidopis thaliana, it was found that a doubling of the air's CO2 content led the plants to produce more and larger roots, enhancing their capacities to acquire water and nutrients, as well as transfer more carbon to the soil in a high-CO2 world.

C4 Grass Responses to CO2: In a growth chamber study of the responses of six different species of C4 grasses to a doubling of the air's CO2 content, it was found that they all exhibited increases in the efficiencies with which they utilize water.

Global Environmental Change: Impact on Global Carbon Balance: Two recent studies exploring the effects of global warming on terrestrial carbon storage show that certain ecosystems may release CO2 to the atmosphere if the climate warms, but that the planet as a whole appears to act as a sink for CO2 under such circumstances.

CO2-Enriched Ecosystems Support Greater Animal Populations: In a study of complex food chains in minature terrestrial ecosystems maintained within the sophisticated Ecotron controlled environment facility at Silkwood Park in the UK, 15 scientists from 10 different research institutions collaborated to demonstrate that a 53% increase in the ecosystem's atmospheric CO2 concentration led to a 52% increase in the numbers of microarthropods that resided at the tops of the ecosystems food chains.