News Source: 
The Daily

Gov. Christine Gregoire announced Tuesday that state agencies will be taking action to combat the problem of ocean acidification in the Pacific Northwest, including the potential opening of a research center at the UW, as an executive order.

The Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification, appointed by Gregoire to review the subject, recommended Gregoire take steps to reduce harm on marine wildlife from ocean acidification. When pH levels drop in seawater, the water becomes acidic. The effects of this on shellfish and marine life are detrimental.

The ocean’s pH levels drop as the waters absorb carbon dioxide released by surrounding cities. According to a study by UW researchers, the overall pH levels in the oceans have dropped by 30 percent.

“A healthy ocean is critical to our health and our coastal economies,” Gregoire said in the announcement. “We have learned that human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide are dramatically altering the ocean’s chemistry at an alarming rate. These emissions, mostly resulting from burning fossil fuels, are now threatening our ocean ecosystems.”

Jan Newton, senior principal oceanographer at the UW, was one of four UW scientists appointed to the panel. Newton said the job of the scientists was to research what was known and what still needed to be known about ocean acidification.