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Conservation Science for a Healthy Planet

Like Oceans, Freshwater Is Also Acidifying

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By Erica Gies on January 11, 2018  read full Scientific American article here

….Is [freshwater] also soaking up atmospheric carbon?A new paper published in Current Biology presents some of the first evidence that the answer may be yes, but perhaps not the same way as occurs in the ocean.

In the new study researchers reported a significant increase of CO2 and a correlating pH decrease of about 0.3 in four reservoirs in Germany over 35 years. They analyzed data collected from 1981 to 2015 by the local Ruhr region agency that monitors drinking water, and were able to document the rising carbon dioxide levels over time by factoring in changes in temperature, water density, pH, ion species distribution and total inorganic content….

…A crucial reason why the study of freshwater acidification has lagged until now is because determining how atmospheric carbon affects these ecosystems requires complex modeling…

…The primary way freshwater ecosystems absorb CO2 created by humans burning fossil fuels is likely different than what happens in oceans. In lakes and reservoirs the extra atmospheric CO2 feeds the surrounding vegetation and the rising global temperature lengthens the growing season. As plants in and around the lake grow larger and/or proliferate, the amount of organic carbon available when they die and the rate at which they break down in soil increases. Precipitation then washes it into lakes and other freshwater systems….

Linda C. Weiss, Leonie Pötter, Annika Steiger, Sebastian Kruppert, Uwe Frost, Ralph Tollrian. Rising pCO 2 in Freshwater Ecosystems Has the Potential to Negatively Affect Predator-Induced Defenses in Daphnia. Current Biology, 2018; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.12.022

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