Fish ear bones affected by CO2

As researchers contemplate the impacts of accumulating greenhouse gases, their concerns are not restricted to rising temperatures and sea levels and other problems they are pretty sure we can expect. They also worry about impacts, big and small, that no one has thought of.

Now scientists say they may have discovered one of those unanticipated possibilities: a significant change in the ear anatomy of fish raised in water with elevated concentrations of carbon dioxide, the main heat-trapping emission, much of which is absorbed by the sea.

As oceans absorb CO2, the water becomes more acidic. Already, scientists say, ocean acidification may be hindering shell formation by corals and some shellfish. This new research, led by David Checkley of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, involved fish exposed to waters with high levels of the gas.



Cornelia Dean, The New York Times, 25 June 2009. Full article.

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