2 Power Plants Shut Down in 2 days by Jellyfish / Climate Change
A headline in Britain's Daily Mail proclaims "Attack of the jellyfish: Sea creatures shut down ANOTHER power station amid claims population surge is due to climate change"
See http://tinyurl.com/6h86agz It should be noted that this newspaper is not even known for concern about climate change.
The latest shutdown is at a power plant in Hadera, Israel; the previous day it was a nucear power plant in Scotland. In both cases, thousands of jellyfish clogged the grates that allow cooling water to circulate.
The link to climate change relates to the warming ocean temperature and the decreasing pH, or acidity level. Ocean temperatures have been inreasing over the last century, by about 0.8 degrees C, or 1.4 degrees F. Warmer temperatures have been associated with blooms in the past.
As the story states, climate change may actually be the cause for a more subtle reason the jellyfish population has exploded: ocean acidification. As carbon dioxide (CO2) increases in the atmosphere, it also disolves in the ocean, becoming a very mild form of carbonic acid, the same as in carbonated beverages.
This is already having a measureable effect of lowering the pH of the sea, referred to as "Ocean Acidification." Actually it is making the oceans less alkaline, which is theoretically the same thing as "less acid."
Although there is some minor variation in ocean pH in different places, it is generally about 8.15. As you may recall, pH is a scale from 1 to 14, with the mid point being neutral pH, neither acid nor alkaline. Pure fresh water has a pH of 7. The pH scale is hard to appreciate as it is logrithmic, like the seismic earthquake scale. In some locations, there has already been a 30 pecent change in pH.
Changing the ocean's pH will have huge effects on marine life. Most life forms are pH sensitive. That is why gardeners know the pH of their soil, so that certain plants like roses might grow well. Also swimming pools tend to grow algae better in certain pH ranges.
The concern is that the ocean ecosystem from the tiniest phytoplankton (algae) at the base of the entire food chain, up through jellyfish, the fish we eat, even up to whales, will be greatly affeced by the change in ocean pH.
The scientists believe that the jellyfish population may have exploded due to some effect of the changing pH on the predators of the jellyfish, allowing more of them to survive. If the jellyfish blooms are caused by climate change, it is a good example of the profoundness of the impacts. There will be tens of thousands if not millions of things that we would never even consider.
The projections are rather ominous as our level of CO2 emissions keeps climbing. As the graphic on the right side of my home page shows we are now at 394 ppm (parts per million)––a 40% increase from the historic high of approximately 280 ppm during at least the last 3 million years. While climate has changed before, to our knowledge it has never changed this quickly. We are entering a new phase of climate on the planet, one that has not been seen for millions of years.
No one can imagine or predict the implications. Who would have thought of jellyfish shutting down power plants in Scotland and Israel. As they say, "We ain't seen nothing yet."