“Double trouble” in acidic, warming oceans – study

Acidification of the oceans means “double trouble” for marine life from corals to shellfish since it is adding to stresses caused by global warming, a study showed on Wednesday.

“The oceans are more acidic than they have ever been for at least 20 million years,” according to the report by the European Science Foundation. On current trends, seas could be 150 percent more acidic by 2100 than they were in pre-industrial times.

Sea water is acidifying because carbon dioxide, released to the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels, is slightly corrosive in water. That makes it harder for creatures such as corals, lobsters, crabs or oysters to build their protective shells.

“Ocean acidification…is double trouble because it is happening on top of global warming,” Jelle Bijma, lead author of the report and a professor at the Alred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Germany, told Reuters.

“Coastal zones such as in the Mediterranean and North Seas are rich in calcifying organisms such as shellfish that may be particularly sensitive to large changes in carbon chemistry,” a statement said.

Alister Doyle, REUTERS, 19 May 2010. Full article.

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