Study Warns Ocean Acidification Increases At Alarming Levels

The accelerated increase in atmospheric CO2 resulted from fossil fuel burning, deforestation, and other human activities, trigger serious consequences on marine ecosystems, scientists from the University of Chicago warned in a recent report published in PNAS.

As the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere increases, the ocean pH changes, which impacts the marine organisms living here. The pH is important for mediating physiological reactions, the researchers explained, and is critical for a lot of processes in the ocean.

A declining pH could interfere with reef building, carbon sequestration via phytoplankton sedimentation, and consumer-resource interactions. Furthermore, the organisms that are most likely to suffer from these changes are the calcifying organisms such as corals, mollusks, coralline algae, and phytoplankton.

Scientists have predicted that the ocean could turn more acidic as the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere increase. This occurs because as the CO2 dissolves in the water, it forms carbonic acid.

“The acidity increased more than 10 times faster than had been predicted by climate change models and other studies,” said J. Timothy Wootton, lead author of the study. “This increase will have a severe impact on marine food webs and suggests that ocean acidification may be a more urgent issue than previously thought, at least in some areas of the ocean.”

Dee Chisamera, eFluxMedia, 26 November 2008. Article.

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