FROM THE VICE PRESIDENT
Sidebar: Are oceans becoming acidic?
LOST LEWIS AND CLARK
Sidebar: Neurons get their close-up
Sidebar: Core facility models molecules
A HAZARDOUS WORLD
Sidebar: Genes, the environment and you
Cover: An illustration of UM's Main Hall tower bathed in the glow of a fictitious smoldering Earth.
Vision is published annually by The University of Montana Office of the Vice President for Research and Development and University Relations. It is printed by UM Printing & Graphic Services.
PUBLISHER: Daniel J. Dwyer. MANAGING EDITOR AND GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Cary Shimek. PHOTOGRAPHER: Todd Goodrich. CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Brianne Burrowes, Brenda Day, Judy Fredenberg, Joan Melcher, Rita Munzenrider, Patia Stephens and Alex Strickland. WEB DESIGN: Patia Stephens. EDITORIAL OFFICE: University Relations, Brantly Hall 330, Missoula, MT 59812, 406-243-5914. MANAGEMENT: Judy Fredenberg, Office of the Vice President for Research and Development, 116 Main Hall, Missoula, MT 59812, 406-243-6670.
oceans becoming acidic?
Last year UM paleontologist and reef expert George Stanley returned from a New York City conference with some chilling news: We should be concerned — even alarmed — by the changes now under way in our oceans.
About half the excess carbon produced by humans is absorbed into the oceans, and Stanley says this CO2 forms carbonic acid — the same substance that makes a can of Coke fizz. And like Coke, an acidic ocean can dissolve things — even the skeletons of calcifying organisms that make up basic plankton and corals.
If it gets as bad as some scientists suggest, ocean acidification could cause a collapse of food chains under the waves, mass extinctions, and starvation for people dependent on the sea for food.
at the ocean acidification conference revealed pictures of micro-plankton
— the basis for oceanic food chains — already showing little
Stanley says scientists don’t know exactly when the tipping point will occur in which the ocean becomes too acidic for many forms of marine life. Expectations range from about 2020 to 2075 or farther, but the day is coming if current trends continue unabated.