Marine Science Faculty Publications

Biological Impacts of Deep-sea Carbon Dioxide Injection Inferred from Indices of Physiological Performance

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carbon dioxide, global warming, deep sea, hypercapnia, acid—base balance, sequestration, cephalopoda, metabolism

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A recent proposal to store anthropogenic carbon dioxide in the deep ocean is assessed here with regard to the impacts on deep-living fauna. The stability of the deep-sea has allowed the evolution of species ill-equipped to withstand rapid environmental changes. Low metabolic rates of most deep-sea species are correlated with low capacities for pH buffering and low concentrations of ion-transport proteins. Changes in seawater carbon dioxide partial pressure (PCO2) may thus lead to large cellular PCO2 and pH changes. Oxygen transport proteins of deep-sea animals are also highly sensitive to changes in pH. Acidosis leads to metabolic suppression, reduced protein synthesis,respiratory stress, reduced metabolic scope and, ultimately, death. Deep-sea CO2 injection as a means of controlling atmospheric CO2levels should be assessed with careful consideration of potential biological impacts. In order to properly evaluate the risks within a relevant timeframe,a much more aggressive approach to research is warranted.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Journal of Experimental Biology, v. 206, issue 4, p. 641-650