Acidic seas threaten coral and mussels

Impact of rising carbon dioxide levels far worse than previously thought

Rising carbon dioxide levels are increasing acidity in the oceans 10 times faster than scientists thought, posing a greater threat to shell-forming creatures such as coral and mussels.

An eight-year project in the Pacific has found that rising marine acid levels will challenge many organisms, because their shell-making chemistry is critically dependent on a less acidic, more alkaline environment. The study monitored seawater pH levels at the north-east Pacific island of Tatoosh off Washington state in the United States.



Timothy Wootton, from Chicago University, said scientists found that acidity levels increased at more than 10 times the rate predicted by computer models designed to study the link between atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and ocean acidity.

Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have increased by about 100 parts per million since the start of the industrial revolution and are now at their highest point in at least 650,000 years.

Steve Connor, The Independent, 25 November 2008. Article.

[Comment from Jean-Pierre Gattuso: the terminology used in this article [or web page] is not scientifically accurate. The definition of “acidic” in the Oxford English dictionary is “having the properties of an acid; having a pH of less than 7”. This definition does not apply to un-manipulated seawater now nor in the foreseeable future. Hence, the adjective “acidic” should not be used. Note that here are very few exceptions, for example in the immediate vicinity of CO2 vents.]

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