Advertisement

Satellite images help build new ocean acidification maps

"We are pioneering this data fusion approach so that we can observe large areas of Earth’s oceans," said Jamie Shutler.

By
Brooks Hays
Satellite data is helping scientists build more expansive and detailed ocean acidification maps. Photo by Ifremer/ESA/CNES
Satellite data is helping scientists build more expansive and detailed ocean acidification maps. Photo by Ifremer/ESA/CNES

EXETER, England, Feb. 17 (UPI) -- The world's oceans have an acid problem that all the Pepto-Bismol in the world won't solve. New maps, created by scientists at the University Exeter, reveal the globe's increasing ocean acidity levels at a bird's-eye view.

Most attempts to track acidity, particularly those by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, have relied on surface-level readings from open ocean research vessels and buoys. But acidity in the world's oceans isn't distributed evenly. To get a more comprehensive picture of ocean-wide acidity fluctuation, scientists at the University of Exeter turned to satellite readings.

Advertisement

The scientists used ocean temperature and salinity data gathered by satellites' thermal cameras and microwave sensors, respectively, to calculate acidity. The data was gathered and analyzed with the help with scientists from the Plymouth Marine Laboratory, the French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea (IFREMER) and the European Space Agency.

"Satellites are likely to become increasingly important for monitoring ocean acidification, especially in remote waters," explained lead researcher Jamie Shutler, a geographer at the University of Exeter. "We are pioneering this data fusion approach so that we can observe large areas of Earth's oceans, allowing us to quickly and easily identify those areas most at risk from increasing acidification."

Advertisement

The newly amalgamated data allowed scientists at Exeter to build maps plotting varying acidity levels across all of the world's oceanic surface area.

As more carbon dioxide is released in the atmosphere, acidity levels in the surface waters of the oceans has been rising. High acidity levels have been shown to be disruptive to marine ecosystems. Ballooning acidity levels along the coasts of the Pacific Northwest and New England have been blamed for declining mollusk populations.

The new study was published this week in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

Latest Headlines