Ocean acidification in high latitude seas

Rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere and ocean have lead to an anthropogenically induced acidification phenomenon in the surface waters of high latitudes seas. These areas are projected to become persistently undersaturated with respect to aragonite as early as mid-century and seasonal aragonite undersaturation in surface and shallow subsurface waters over the continental shelves of some northern polar seas has already been observed. Calcifying marine organisms, including pteropods, foraminifers, cold-water corals, sea urchins, mollusks, and coralline algae that could be susceptible to reduced calcification rates under increasing ocean acidity make up significant components of the diverse ecosystems in high latitudes seas. Over the next decades, trends of rising temperatures and species invasions coupled with progressive ocean acidification are expected to increasingly influence both planktonic and benthic marine communities of Antarctica and the Arctic. In commercially important regions, like the benthic fisheries of the Bering Sea this trend could have dramatic consequences. The rate and magnitude of these changes illustrate the urgent need for expanded efforts in ocean acidification research and monitoring in polar and subpolar regions.

Mathis, J. T., 2010. Ocean acidification in high latitude seas. 2010 GSA Denver Annual Meeting (31 October –3 November 2010), Session No. 279, Impacts of Ocean Acidification: The Other CO2 Crisis. Abstract.

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