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  • Earthling 7:07 am on 29th April 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , food scarcity, usage of water for mining, water, water and conflict, water conflict in peru and chile, water scarcity, water water, water water water   

    Will there be wars over the ownership of water? Yes. 

    Image from Graham Dean on Flickr, CC2 licensed

    By Carroll Colette J. Yorgey
    Today in many parts of the world there are already conflicts over water rights, so it is very conceivable that wars could be started or fueled by people’s ability to use water. A shortage in water will also lead to shortages in food supply, since water is necessary to grow food.
    In Africa, water is extremely vulnerable. There are very few mountainous regions where ice caps can melt into the flowing waters of rivers, especially in the northwestern and southern regions. This can cause rivers and streams to dry up more quickly and it is already doing that in certain areas where there are high temperatures.
    Global warming will cause less rain to fall in Africa within the next 50 years. With a 20% drop in rainfall, Botswanna will completely dry up and so will Cape Town in South Africa.
    According to professor Adil Najam of Tufts University, “Many people in Africa spend more time and money on acquiring water than nearly any other resource.” He states that when “water becomes scarce, people will do what they must to obtain it.” He also states that water is nonnegotiable and that you don’t stop drinking water because you are poor. African rivers cross international boundaries and less river water may heighten international conflicts, he further states. (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/03/0303_060303_africa_2.html).
    In Peru and Chile there are already conflicts over water between gold and copper mining companies and poor farmers. Many farmers have successfully blocked the start-up of new mines, and the larger more powerful mining companies have instituted a system whereby they extract water from the Pacific Ocean for use in their mining operations. The main large mining companies that have adopted this procedure are Cerro Lindo in Peru and Antofagasta Minerals in Chile.
    “Conflicts over water, especially in Peru, where they often turn violent, have delayed billions of dollars of investments in new mines.” Poor residents are afraid of losing access to fresh water supplies.
    Mining companies typically use billions of gallons of water in their mining operation, which may last 40 years or more.
    According to climate change specialist with the Peruvian government, Alvarez Lam, “The scarcity of water will cause economic conflict – it already has in parts of Peru and it will affect the development of industry.” (www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSN21383591)
    When food and water are in scarce supply the world over this could cause conflicts that could lead to war, or heighten ongoing conflicts between nations. According to Lester R. Brown at (www.earth-policy.org/Books/Seg/PB2ch03_ss2.htm) “Since the overpumping of aquifers is occurring in many countries more or less simultaneously, the depletion of aquifers and the resulting harvest cutbacks could come out roughly the same time. And the accelerating depletion of aquifers means this day may come soon, creating potentially unmanageable food scarcity.”
    What will happen when food is scarce the world over and the waters are also depleted? Water and food are more precious than oil and the metals of gold and silver. We can survive without oil, gold, and silver. But we can’t survive without food and water.
    It is important for people to wake up and understand priorities. Our basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter come first. Food and water are the most basic needs of all.
    Copyright © 2018 Carroll Colette J. Yorgey. All rights reserved.
    [Editor’s comment by Zebulon Goertzel: Indeed, the situation concerning the Nile looks dangerous. Already in 1875-6, Egypt tried to conquer Ethiopia in its quest for control over the whole Nile region. Ethiopia’s construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile, said to be the source of most of the Nile, has provoked threats from Egypt. For now the two countries are negotiating, but when resources become truly scarce, things may get ugly again. There is also the issue of water disputes between India and Pakistan, which have more than enough tensions without the added factor of water. Then there is Central Asia, which is full of poverty and deserts, and has a long history of incessant tribal conflicts; the Soviet Union literally destroyed the biggest lake in the region, the Aral Sea.]

  • Earthling 10:42 pm on 27th May 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: aerosols, albedo, alkalinity, atmosphere, climate science, cloud formation, clouds and the sulfur cycle, DMSP, DMSP and global warming, earth's albedo, marine phytoplankton, ocean acidifaction and global warming, ocean acidification, pH, , scientific papers, sulfur cycle, water   

    Ocean Acidification’s Potential Impact on Global Warming through Dimethyl Sulfide Reduction 

    By Zade Goertzel. Copyright 2018 Zade Goertzel. All rights reserved.
    The ocean covers over half of the earth’s surface and contributes to many earth systems that help sustain life. Due to its expansive nature, a particularly high percentage of the earth’s clouds cover the ocean. Although the feedback systems involving clouds and the reflectivity of the earth are only vaguely understood, it is understood that overall, global cloud coverage collectively works to increase the earth’s albedo. Other than water vapor, clouds are made up of aerosols. The largest contributing aerosol to marine clouds is DMS, a compound whose production relies on phytoplankton which produce DMSP. As humans pollute the atmosphere with carbon, a high percentage of this carbon is absorbed by the ocean. The more carbon dioxide that the ocean absorbs, the lower the ocean’s pH becomes. This decrease in alkalinity has the potential to negatively affect marine phytoplankton communities, hence, potentially reducing the amount of DMS produced. If this happened, it could reduce cloud coverage over the ocean and potentially speed up global warming by lowering the earth’s albedo. This means that ocean acidification caused by anthropogenic CO2 emissions could potentially trigger a positive feedback loop that speeds up the impacts of global warming.
    Ocean Acidification
    The world’s oceans, which cover approximately 71% of the earth’s surface [1] store approximately 50 times more carbon dioxide than the atmosphere [20], and have absorbed nearly a third of anthropogenic carbon emissions. [2] This drastically decreases the speed of atmospheric global warming, but could have negative consequences for the ocean. In particular, acidified oceans may dissolve aragonite and calcium carbonate. The “concentration of carbonate drops by about a factor of 3 for a pH drop of 0.5 and by a factor of 10 for a full pH unit drop. Consequently, aragonite first becomes soluble in seawater when the pH drops below about 7.7.” [21] According to some studies, this will be drastic enough to completely dissolve organism’s shells “under the ocean conditions predicted for 2100” (Sponberg). [2] These predictions suggest a more drastic change in ocean acidification than has ever taken place in history. [2] These predictions do not take into account the possibility of shelled organisms evolving quickly enough to adapt to higher pH environments, but the predicted ocean acidification is expected to be many times faster than has ever happened before in the geological past. [4]
    Carbon dioxide is cycled in and out of the ocean both through both biological and physiological processes. The physiological ones consist of water currents that cycle dense, cold water from the surface down to the deep sea, and then, in other locations , coldwater from the deep sea is cycled to the surface. [22] The biological process largely takes place via phytoplankton. Carbon dioxide dissolves into the seawater and is either used for physiological processes such as photosynthesis , or remains as different forms of dissolved carbon dispersed in the water. [4] It is this excess carbon that is not absorbed for physiological processes that leads to ocean acidification as its chemical properties are altered. [4]  The CO2 reacts with H2O to form carbonic acid (H2CO3) most of which then dissociates (separates) into hydrogen (H+) and bicarbonate (HCO3-) ions. [4] Since pH is a logarithmic function of hydrogen (pH = -log [H+]), this increase of hydrogen lowers the pH of the ocean.
    As the acidification of seawater will affect all marine life in some way, it will also affect the very phytoplankton that help to absorb CO2 and circulate it through the carbon cycle (instead of letting it contribute to ocean acidification). However, there are many different types of phytoplankton, and different types will be affected differently. Predicting how phytoplankton around the globe will react to these habitat changes is difficult and uncertain. Different breeds of phytoplankton react differently to lower pH habitats, which may greatly alter future phytoplankton communities. [4] Consequently, other cycles and ecosystems will be affected by such an alteration in phytoplankton communities. One of the cycles that will be affected is the sulfur cycle, which, in turn, may also have significant impacts on the earth’s albedo.
    Clouds and the sulfur cycle
    In order for clouds to form, the two necessary components are aerosols and water vapor. [25] Aerosols are liquids or solids dispersed in gas, similar to the way that water vapor is dispersed in the air. They disperse in gas so that their solid or liquid molecules have gas molecules in between them but they still remain an even distance from each other. [26] Common forms of aerosols in clouds come from anthropogenic pollution, volcanoes, forest fires [25] and, in the case of marine clouds, phytoplankton. Cloud droplets form when water vapor condenses onto aerosols. Air needs to rise up in order to cool enough for moisture to condense around the aerosol that becomes the droplet’s nuclei. [25] This happens to air via “convection, convergence, lifting along fronts, and lifting caused by topography.” [25] In general, this means that the air heats, converges with other air, or converges with another mass, such as a mountain. Once the air rises high enough up it cools which causes its moisture to condense, and this is when it becomes a visible cloud. [25]
     The relationship between clouds, the climate, and radiation is not yet thoroughly understood, but it is clear that clouds both contribute to warming and cooling the planet. [28] Collectively, all of the earth’s clouds contribute to cooling the planet, by reflecting the sun’s energy from the earth. But they also contribute to keeping the earth warm by preventing radiation from leaving the atmosphere, hence, the greenhouse gas effect. [30] Without clouds, the earth would absorb approximately 20% more radiation from the sun. [29] Different types of clouds contribute to global reflectivity differently; however, determining which types of clouds tend to have what length lifespans, and what radiation reflection tendencies is difficult. Clouds tend to cover over 60% of the planet, and the majority of this coverage is marine clouds. [27] Oceans have more cloud coverage than continents, and their clouds tend to be denser [27] and lower down in the atmosphere than continental clouds, which is a potential implication that they could be particularly effective at reflecting the sun’s radiation. [29] But some suggest that marine clouds, on an individual basis, reflect less radiation than continental clouds. [27]
    Dimethyl sulfide is the most abundant volatile organic sulfur compound in the ocean. [5] Being a volatile organic compound means that it is a carbon compound that “participates in atmospheric photochemical reactions” [23], but not “carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, carbonic acid, metallic carbides or carbonates” [23] or ammonium carbonate. It is the main source of “reduced tropospheric sulfur over the oceans,” [5] hence, it is the main contributing aerosol to marine clouds. Phytoplankton excrete DMSP, both while alive and while decomposing; DMSP is in their cell membrane and it is released by zooplankton consuming them, viral attacks, and during its decay. [18] This DMSP is later either eaten or converted to DMS by bacteria, hence phytoplankton provide a crucial link between the oceanic and atmospheric sulfur cycles by producing DMSP. [32]
    When DMS is oxidized at the surface of the water it becomes sulfur dioxide (SO2), which becomes sulfate (SO42-) when it reacts with hydroxide (OH). [6] The effect on the earth’s albedo comes in when sulfate nucleates into sulfate aerosol by combining with water vapor. [25][6] It can then directly scatter radiation while suspended in the atmosphere, or, because sulfate is hygroscopic (meaning that it readily absorbs water) it can act as cloud condensation nuclei and become the nucleus of cloud droplets. [25][6] By contributing extra cloud condensation nuclei, it can form the type of cloud with smaller, but more abundant, droplets. There is some evidence showing these types of clouds have higher albedo than those with less, larger droplets. [28] However, other evidence suggests that the type of clouds with a higher concentration of small droplets may have a reduced lifespan when compared with other clouds. [33] By producing what contributes to sulfate aerosol, DMSP produced by phytoplankton contributes to a large percentage of the earth’s clouds, which could potentially increase the earth’s albedo.
    It is important to note that a large percentage of DMSP is consumed by bacteria instead of contributing to this cycle. The DMS that is oxidized and ventilated into the atmosphere is only 3% of the total DMS that is produced from DMSP. [24][6] It is also difficult to measure concentrations of DMS in the surface of the water. [6] However, it is clear that the DMS produced by phytoplankton most likely provides a significant contribution to the formation of marine clouds. Of course, the DMSP contribution to this cycle depends on the type of phytoplankton involved, as different types of phytoplankton produce varying amounts of DMSP. The phytoplankton that produce the most DMSP are “Dinophyceae (dinoflagellates) and Prymnesiophyceae (which includes coccolithophores).”[5]
    Potential Impacts of Ocean Acidification on DMSP and Global Warming
    The first study to thoroughly address the concept that DMS production could contribute to the earth’s climate and albedo was “Oceanic phytoplankton, atmospheric sulphur, cloud albedo and climate” [32] done by Robert Charlson, James Lovelock, Meinrat Andreae, and Stephan Warren in 1987. The results of this study are now commonly referred to as the “CLAW hypothesis,” after all of the researchers’ last names.
    There have been multiple studies (see references 7, 31, 32, 9, 10, 11, 12) which suggest that a decreased oceanic pH results in decreased DMSP production. According to the CLAW hypothesis, this could lead to less DMS in the troposphere to contribute to cloud creation, and therefore a lower albedo for the earth. The study, “Global warming amplified by reduced sulphur fluxes as a result of ocean acidification”[7] used computer models, previously completed studies relating to pH and DMS emissions, and predictions for future climate change to determine possible relationships between ocean acidification and global warming. This study specifically measured DMS production, and incoming radiation from the sun, in relation to predicted climate and ocean pH changes throughout the 21st century. Their main goal was “to investigate the climate impact of a decrease in global marine DMS emissions that might result from the exposure of marine biota to significant pH changes induced by ocean acidification.”[7] To do this, they conducted tests using several models to imitate and predict oceanic and atmospheric systems.
    They used models that emulate general circulation systems between the atmosphere and ocean, such as the carbon and sulfur cycle.[15][16] Because these models do not factor in DMS’s potential climate impacts, they also used a model that includes more aerosol chemistry and microphysics.[13][14] They used these models along with predictions for anthropogenic warming to predict climate change from 1860 to 2100,[17] with multiple tests with pH sensitive DMS production and a reference test with DMS production having no reaction to pH change.[7] Rather than changing the pH in the models, pH-sensitive DMS production implies that they directly altered the DMS production’s sensitivity to water pH instead. The reference, high, and medium pH-sensitive tests’ DMS production must therefore be based off of different average sensitivities that were found in previous mesocosm studies. In these models, ocean acidification was solely based off of climate warming and atmospheric composition, not marine biota changes that may increase the speed or intensity ocean acidification.[7] The gases used in the atmosphere’s composition were CO2  and the aerosols “sulphate, sea salt, black carbon, organic carbon and mineral dust.”[7] Supplementary tests were done to see the results of adding the predicted levels of anthropogenic aerosol emissions to the model test. The resulting aerosol increases did not reduce radiation in the same way that DMS did, and in fact, the projected incoming radiation was stronger than the other tests with the largest reduction in DMS emissions.[7][18] This result counters the common belief that anthropogenic aerosols might increase net cloud albedo.
    The model that focused on the sulphur cycle did not take DMSP or DMSO into account when considering the chemistry and microphysics of the sulfur cycle, instead, it simplified the process down to phytoplankton and DMS production.[7] They only focused on DMS production, bacterial consumption and hence conversion of DMSP to DMS, photolysis (the chemical compound being broken down by radiation) and the gas exchange with the atmosphere that contributes to the atmospheric sulfur cycle and cloud creation.[18] This means that they simplified the process of DMS production by estimating how much DMS is emitted into the atmosphere based off of amount of silicifying and calcifying phytoplankton detritus found in the water. [18][7]
    Silicifying and calcifying phytoplankton are the highest producers of DMSP, [7] which is why the study found focusing on these types of phytoplankton to be sufficient. It is worthy to note that this study disregarded Phaeocysitis which are avid DMSP producers. [19] This is because the conductors of this study found the informations on Phaeocystis’s relationship to seawater pH reduction and impact on overall DMS emissions to be too weak to provide accurate results. [7] As for the model’s aerosol circulation calculations, it uses the “aerosol processes: nucleation, condensation and coagulation” [7] to test the impact of DMS on both its direct reflectivity impact and its impact on cloud composition.
    In order to complete a thorough analysis of what actually alters overall DMS production, they analyzed and compared multiple mesocosm studies. A mesocosm is an enclosed system that simulates a natural system in order to examine that system in controlled conditions. It is necessary to note that many difficulties in comparing different mesocosm experiments arose from differing “volumes of seawater enclosed; method used to alter acidity of the sea water; and the stability of the pH values over time.” [7] One of the main mesocosm studies focused on is one 5-week study done in Slavbard, in 2010, by the European Project on Ocean Acidification (EPOCA). [45] They found that nanoplankton and picoplankton lived well, but that regular phytoplankton suffered. The experiment was too short to have any major implications, but it showed a potential decrease in ocean CO2 absorption, the possibility of decreased zooplankton populations, and decreased DMS emissions. [45]
    The models show that phytoplankton growth increases in high latitude areas as a reaction to ice-melt. Nevertheless, global radiation still increased all of the tests, because, even though the ice melted the waters would still be cold, and therefore absorb even more CO2 than other waters. [7] Climate warming also increased stratification of ocean water columns, meaning that water columns with different properties became more separated from each other. This reduced the supply of silicate in the surface layers of the ocean. Since phytoplankton need to be near enough to the water surface to absorb the sun’s radiation, this could cause the plankton community to shift mainly towards calcifying types that produce even more DMS than silicifying phytoplankton. [7] However, this still lead to a decrease in overall DMS emissions.
    The tests with pH-sensitive DMS production had a significantly lower DMS production by 2100 than the reference test did. [7] Both the reference and other tests were found to have similar overall results, but the pH sensitive tests result in drastic DMS decrease despite an occasional increase in biological production. [7] This counters some evidence that eutrophication, that can occur with ocean acidification, could counteract the negative impacts of acidification on DMS production. [34] The final results also show that where DMS production decreased, incoming radiation increased, particularly in parts of the world that were measured to have the lowest DMS emissions. [7] Overall, this study’s results show that DMS emission reduction could be caused by ocean acidification, and this could add a 10% increase to the global warming that was predicted to result from doubled CO2 emissions when this study was written, in August 2013.7
    If the tests on these mesocosms accurately demonstrate the reactions of phytoplankton to change in their habitat’s pH, then ocean acidification could alter the earth’s radiation budget in such a way that it ruins the balance; thus increasing global warming. It would quickly increase the effects of anthropogenic warming. [7]
    A pH decrease of approximately 0.5 units by the end of the 21st century is predicted. This could greatly alter phytoplankton communities and hence DMS emissions. One result from one of the studies referenced by “Global warming amplified by reduced sulphur fluxes as a result of ocean acidification” demonstrated an increase in DMS caused by a lowered pH, but more studies find a decrease in DMS. The results of any of these studies is questionable, as the “understanding of the processes behind the response of DMS to ocean acidification is hitherto very poor.” [7] Nevertheless, such experiments could prove accurate and useful projections of the future.
    Other factors that result from ocean acidification could also lead to a reduction in DMS production, as ocean acidification could change many factors of all marine life. If acidification stops the ocean from absorbing CO2 at the rate it has been doing so up to this point in time, then the speed of warming could be increased to the extent that it is detrimental to many of earth’s life forms. But, aside from all of these results of anthropogenic CO2 emissions there is also the possibility that ocean acidification might decrease the earth’s albedo through disturbing phytoplankton communities.
    The possibility of this being the case is still very theoretical, as discussion of clouds impacts on albedo and climate are widely debated. As previously mentioned, some suggest that eutrophication caused by increased CO2 increases DMS emissions enough to counteract the effects of decreased ocean alkalinity. [34] Two reports, one from NASA in 2005, [25] state that clouds at a lower altitudes tend to contribute to reflecting the sun’s radiation, while clouds at higher altitudes mainly retain the earth’s heat. [29] But a 2011 report from NASA states that “The tops of ocean clouds are generally about a kilometer lower than the tops of clouds over land, and ocean clouds reflect about 10 percent less sunlight,” [27] which would mean that ocean clouds reflect less light despite the otherwise suggested evidence that denser and lower altitude clouds reflect more sunlight. There is also dispute over whether aerosols, including those from anthropogenic warming, increase overall cloud reflectivity or not. NASA suggests that all reflective aerosols increase cloud reflectivity and longevity [28], while a study from the Max-Planck Institute suggests that they increase reflectivity but drastically decrease the lifespan of the clouds. [33]
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