Ocean Acidification Causes, Effects, & Examples: Top 10 List

December 3, 2016 in Animals & Insects, Geology & Climate

Ocean acidification is the process by which oceanic waters progressively become more and more acidic, mostly as a result of absorption of atmospheric carbon dioxide. To put that another way, as atmospheric carbon dioxide levels increase, the process of ocean acidification will increase as well. To a point anyways.

Acidic in this case is actually something of a slight misnomer, though, as the “acidification” is actually more of a move to pH-neutral conditions, from the generally slightly basic (pH >7) condition’s of the earth’s oceans.

This move to pH-neutral conditions will have a profound impact on the myriad lifeforms found within the oceans though, as witnessed during previous ocean acidification events such as “The Great Dying” (~252 million years ago), rather than being a trivial process.

Impacts that can be reliably expected are: major changes to plankton distribution, types, and numbers; increasingly common mass coral bleaching events; associated extinctions; depressed metabolic rates and immunity in some types of marine animals, as well as behavioral changes; fishery collapses; and increasingly common red tide events.

To go back over that earlier point a bit more — seawater is generally slightly basic (pH>7), as it absorbs carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, or from elsewhere (carbon seeps, etc), some of the absorbed CO2 reacts to form carbonic acid (H2CO3), and leads as well to carbonate (HCO3−) and bicarbonate (CO32−) formation. The carbonate and bicarbonate formation results in increased hydrogen ion (H+) concentrations in the ocean water (acidity) — as they are the “leftovers” of the formation process.
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Ocean Acidification Effects, Causes, & Examples List Part 2

December 3, 2016 in Animals & Insects, Geology & Climate

(This is Part 2 of the Ocean Acidification Causes, Effects, & Examples: Top 10 List, which had to be split in order to load properly. Click through to that article to read the introduction, and items 1 through 4 of the list.)

Algae bloom red ocean

Increase In Red Tide Events

A likely co-occurrence with increasing ocean acidification will be increasingly common red tide events. That is, increasingly common and extensive blooms of the various dinoflagellates responsible for “red tides.”

An increase in these events will of course see an increase in the accumulation of associated toxins (domoic acid, saxitoxin, brevetoxin) in marine animals — and thus an increase in the marine mass mortality events that accompany this. Also, paralytic and neurotoxic shellfish poisoning will become more common as well.
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Climate Change & Antarctica, The Future Return Of Antarctic Flora, & New Arrivals (Part 2)

November 24, 2016 in Animals & Insects, Geology & Climate, Plants

(This article had to be split in two so that it wouldn’t crash, the preface and a discussion of the plants of prehistoric Antarctica can be found here: Antarctica & Climate Change, What Would A Greened Antarctica Look Like? – Plants Of Prehistoric Antarctica, Meyer Desert Formation Biota, & Speculation On The Future).

The Future Of Antarctic Flora — Plants That Are Likely To Colonize Antarctica And/Or To Possibly Do Well If Introduced

As the “soil” will be quite poor initially, what will be likely is that plants that do well in poor and rapidly draining soils, and also in wet soils, where water stagnates or only flows slowly, rather than draining well, will be among those that have the easiest time spreading in Antarctica. In other words, the sorts of plants that do well in Arctic tundra, particularly in the very poor soils of most of Canada, and much of Siberia. With that in mind, I’ll kick this off with sedges. (For poor, rapidly draining soils, see the section on cushion plants below.)
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10 Extinct Animals Of The Last 100 Years, & Before – List

November 20, 2016 in Animals & Insects

While the title of this article implies that it will focus on animals that have gone extinct only within the last 100 years, it won’t. It will actually showcase a number of animals that have gone extinct over the last 15,000 years, and longer. The animals featured start out with relatively recent extinctions, such as the Carolina Parakeet, and the European Lion, and work their way back in time.

The animals to be highlighted include the largest eagle to have ever existed, the Haast’s Eagle, one of the largest birds to have ever existed, the Elephant Bird, and an armadillo relative that grew to be the size of a car. As well as examples of convergent evolution, such as the American Cheetah. And also examples of animals related to those still in the world but that lived in regions and climates not associated with the animals nowadays, and that were much larger or possessed different qualities + occupied different ecological niches.

So, yeah, there’s no focus on just 10 extinct animals of the last 100 years, but rather on the before as well. Enjoy the article.

10 Extinct Animals Of The Last 100 Years, & Before – List

Stuffed Carolina parakeet stuffed

Carolina Parakeet (Conuropsis carolinensis)

The Carolina Parakeet (Conuropsis carolinensis) was a bright green parakeet that previous to the 20th century was found throughout most of what’s now the continental US — to be more particular, found all throughout the South, the Northeast, the Midwest, and the Plains States.
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Southern Cassowary (Casuarius Casuarius) — Bird, Attacks On Humans, Feet, & Pictures

November 14, 2016 in Animals & Insects

The Southern Cassowary (Casuarius casuarius) is not quite a dinosaur but it’s very likely the closest thing to one that you will ever see. Well, I suppose that you could consider it a dinosaur, but if so then it would be a dinosaur that’s quite distinct from the ones that linger in pop culture (or were in a way invented by it).

As the pictures show, the Southern Cassowary, also known as the Australian Cassowary, is quite a large bird — growing to be more than 6 feet tall (to at least 75 inches or 190 cm), and to weigh between 37 and 154 lbs (17 and 70 kilograms). Maximum weight is estimated to be 187 lbs (85 kilograms). Some females have been known to grow to as tall as 6’7 feet (2 meters). Females are notably larger than males, and possess a larger bill and casque (the crest looking thing on their heads).

Cassowary on beach with chick

A very notable behavior of the species is that it’s the male that raises the offspring, and incubates the eggs, rather than the females. The females are apparently not involved at all in the chick rearing after they drop off the eggs and head off to do the same elsewhere (female territories overlap those of several males).

Other notable qualities include: the ability to make extremely deep sounds (the lowest frequency bird-call known, and at the very lower limit of human hearing); the ability to run up to 31 mph (50 km/h) and to jump up to 5 feet (1.5 meters); and also the fact that they are very good swimmers, capable of crossing large rivers and also of swimming I the ocean.
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