Thermal and acidification impacts on ocean biota

The problem:
Concern has recently increased that climate-induced changes are threatening ocean biota, especially those associated with coral reefs.  While traditionally attention has focused on the effects of increases in water temperature, in recent years increasing evidence has pointed to ocean acidification resulting from increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations as an additional and likely synergistic danger to calcifying organisms.  The negative impacts from climate change and CO2 do not exist in isolation.  Increased fine sediment and algae concentrations arising from human activities in the near-shore environment are also endangering coral reefs and heavy fishing plus a range of other factors threaten other ocean biota.  Of particular concern in the Florida Keys and other areas with high levels of tourism are onshore development that generates increased waste loads to coastal waters, and increased cruise ship traffic.  Cruise ships can resuspend bottom sediments in shallow waters and often dump wastes at sea, discharging nutrients that lead to algal growth and reduced dissolved oxygen concentrations.  Dredging is also necessary to maintain nearshore channels for the large cruise ships, and this also contributes to increased suspended sediment concentrations.  High inorganic and organic (algal) sediments smother coral reefs, inhibiting their growth and survival.  Management options include onshore land use and waste treatment requirements, further restrictions on offshore dumping from ships, and limitations on ship traffic and dredging.  There has been talk of local efforts to control pH near selected coral reefs.  The feasibility and effectiveness of these local management options is greatly uncertain.

The research:
Apt and colleagues will model the natural gas use of CAES to determine the effects of large-scale deployment on natural gas price and availability, and will model the circumstances under which adiabatic CAES (using no gas) is economically viable for societal and firm level decision makers. We will model:

  1. the conditions under which water availability reductions due to climate change for thermal generation plants can lead to additional pressures on the use of wind and other renewable sources;
  2. the effects on the upper bound of wind and solar incorporation into the grid of relaxing the present tight constraints on AC power frequency stability; and
  3. the extent to which direct use of variable power sources can be optimized to pump and desalinate water, and charge thermal storage systems.

The decision makers:
A123 Systems, American Electric Power (AEP), Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), Caterpillar (CAT), EPRI, International Risk Governance Council (IRGC), NRDC, Ontario Ministry of the Environment, PA PUC, PJM (a regional transmission organization (RTO) that coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in all or parts of 13 states and the District of Columbia.), SAP Labs LLC, Westinghouse Electric Corporation.