How NOAA and Bad Modeling Invented an “Ocean Acidification” Icon: Part 1 – Sea Butterflies

Watts Up With That?

Guest essay by Jim Steele

Director emeritus Sierra Nevada Field Campus, San Francisco State University and author of Landscapes & Cycles: An Environmentalist’s Journey to Climate Skepticism

If you google “ocean acidification,” the first 3 websites presented according to “Google’s truth rankings” are: 1) Wikipedia, 2) NOAA’s PMEL site featuring the graphic cartoon shown below with a dissolving pteropod shell (a sea butterfly) as the icon of ocean acidification, and 3) the Smithsonian’s Ocean Portal site similarly featuring a dissolving sea butterfly shell. However NOAA’s illustration incorrectly implies shells are dissolving near the surface due to invading anthropogenic atmospheric CO2. As will be shown, the depiction would be far more accurate if it was turned upside down, so that the downward arrows point upwards to illustrate shell dissolution happens when old carbon stored at depth is upwelled to the surface. Furthermore the horizontal depiction of extreme dissolution illustrated…

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