Physical characteristics and ocean acidification

Marine ecosystems are adapted to their physical and chemical environment. Any changes in the physical characteristics of the marine environment can influence marine life and sustainable use of the seas. It is therefore important to understand changes in these physical and chemical characteristics in assessing whether we are working towards Scotland’s vision for clean, healthy, safe, productive, biologically diverse marine coastal environments, managed to meet the long-term needs of nature and people.

This assessment of physical and chemical characteristics covers, circulation, sea level, waves, temperature and salinity, as well as stratification and water clarity (turbidity).

The oceans are absorbing much of the carbon dioxide and excess heat resulting from a changing global climate. This absorption results in ocean acidification and increasing temperatures contribute to a loss of oxygen from the sea. These processes may have an adverse impact on marine life, and therefore the latest information on ocean acidification and dissolved oxygen (one of the Clean and safe Eutrophication assessments) are also presented.

The five case studies demonstrate some applications related to these assessments. These include a review of Scotland’s tidal stream resource, an example of dissolved oxygen measurements using novel technologies, and three illustrations of variability of ocean acidification and marine organisms (two species of calcifying plankton, coccolithophores and pelagic gastropods at Stonehaven, and one species of cold-water coral).

The Physical characteristics and ocean acidification assessment in Scotland’s Marine Atlas 2011 can be found on the Scottish Government web archive here.