BIG PICTURE DAY “Sea of Troubles”: Acidification of the Oceans

One of the consequences of pumping more and more Carbon Dioxide into the atmosphere – as we’ve been doing increasingly since the Industrial Revolution by burning fossil fuels – is that a great deal of it ends up in the oceans.

Think of it as a “pump” run by ocean circulation and microscopic sea plankton. The surface waters absorb carbon dioxide from the air and sink it into the deep ocean.

But now, the concentration of C-O-2 in the atmosphere is higher than it’s been for at least 650-thousand years. And Half of what humans have emitted since the start of the Industrial Revolution has gone into the sea.

As a result, the ocean is 30 per cent more acidic.

Mussels, oysters and corals will struggle to grow in more acidic water expected over this century.

Dr Richard Matear is a Senior Research Fellow at the CSIRO’s Marine and Atmospheric Research Centre in Hobart.

Listen to the audio file here.

Interview with Dr Richard Matear, ABC Far North Qld. 27 February 2009. Audio file.

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