Rising acidity, a threat to marine species

The increasing acidity of the oceans, which absorb more than a quarter of the carbon dioxide emitted by human activity, could harm corals, molluscs and other marine species, contend specialists on the matter.

At 1,200 kilometres from the North Pole, in the archipelago of Svalbard (Spitzberg), scientists from nine European countries launched a comprehensive investigation to try to understand a well-known phenomenon a little better.

“The cold waters of the Arctic absorb gases faster than warm or moderate ones. Here, in the polar regions, the ocean is becoming corrosive more rapidly, “deems Jean-Pierre Gattuso, an oceanographer from the French Scientific Research Centre (CNRS) and coordinator of the project Age.

Since the beginning of the industrial era, the planet’s oceans have become 30 per cent more acidic, to reach a level unparalleled for 55 million years.

This trend will remain as long as carbon dioxide emissions do not decline (CO2).

In the fiord of the Norwegian town of Ny-Aalesund, the researchers submerged nine “mesocosmos,” that are like giant test tubes in which CO2 is injected in order to simulate the increase in acidity of the oceans from today to 2150 and thus observe the reaction of the ecosystem.

“The important part is not the absolute value of the acidity, but the rapidity with which it changes,” Gattuso indicates.

AFP, FiS France, 28 June 2010. Full article.

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