How does rising atmospheric CO2 affect marine organisms?

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Volume 5 Number 4:  23 January 2002

Temperature Record of the Week
This issue's Temperature Record of the week is from Crete, Nebraska. Visit our U.S. Climate Data section to plot and view these data for yourself.

Current Editorial
The Coral Conundrum: Throughout their entire global range, coral reefs are in decline.  So state the authors of an insightful new assessment of the subject in an article entitled "The Changing Health of Coral Reefs," which was recently published in the pages of Human and Ecological Risk Assessment.  Is CO2 to blame?

Subject Index Summaries
Non-Ozone Air Pollution (Effects on Health): Numerous substances that can be harmful to plants, animals and humans are routinely transported great distances through the air, severely complicating our ability to identify the true causes of biological dysfunction and death.  Local meteorological conditions can also create complications in this regard.  But there is an element that is common to nearly all such cases of mortality and morbidity: CO2 seems to always get an undeserved bad rap.

Source/Sink Relations: A review of the literature suggests that plants with naturally low sink strength and artificially low sink strength induced by insufficient soil nitrogen supply often limit a plant's ability to respond persistently to elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations.  However, reductions in source strength or increased nitrogen availability from fertilization or remobilization away from rubisco often act to overcome this problem.

Carbon Sequestration Commentary
CO2-Enriched Plants Follow Frugal Dictum of "Waste Not, Want Not" with Respect to Valuable Captured Carbon: Just as a penny saved is a penny earned to us humans, so it is with a gram of carbon to earth's plants; and rising concentrations of atmospheric CO2 tend to make them ever more protective of their most highly-prized resource.

Current Journal Reviews
Remains of Midges Have Climate Tale to Tell ... If We Can Learn Their Language: The authors of this intriguing study continue their quest to better reconstruct the climatic history of north-west Europe from the remains of midge assemblages preserved in lake sediments.

Precipitation and Streamflow in the Rio Puerco Basin of New Mexico: The Past 50 Years: Climate alarmists claim global warming will bring more extreme weather and increased threats of floods and droughts.  This part of New Mexico, however, doesn't seem to be getting with the program.  In fact, it's doing just the opposite.  But that shouldn't be a surprise now, should it?

Pre-Dawn/Early-Morning Enhancement of the Air's CO2 Concentration Stimulates Plant Growth: Naturally-occurring increases in atmospheric CO2 concentration in the hours just before and after dawn have the capacity to significantly enhance plant growth, which suggests that the similar pattern of atmospheric CO2 enrichment produced by the growing urban CO2 domes of expanding cities does likewise.

Response of Citrus Leaves to Elevated CO2: Elevated CO2 enhanced leaf photosynthetic rates in Citrus cuttings in spite of CO2-induced reductions in leaf nitrogen content.  The resulting enhanced photosynthetic nitrogen-use efficiency increased with atmospheric CO2 enrichment and leaf age.

Effects of Elevated CO2 and Soil Nitrogen on Seasonal Gas Exchange in Wheat: In a two-year FACE experiment, atmospheric CO2 enrichment significantly enhanced season-long carbon accumulation in field-grown spring wheat under both low and high soil nitrogen conditions.  What else would you expect?  It always happens.