Ocean ‘time machine’ illustrates global warming’s impact on marine life (audio)

Oysters likely to show the effects of a more acidic ocean first

Baby oysters could be the “canaries in the mine shaft” for another dimension of global warming.

Pacific Northwest scientists are studying how the oceans suck in excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The process changes seawater chemistry – locally and globally. An experiment now under way in Seattle, Washington to find out how sea critters are coping with the changes.

Time machine

Paul McElhany’s lab is like an ocean time machine.

“In one of the tanks we’re simulating pre-industrial conditions, before people started burning fossil fuels,” says McElhany, a federal biologist working at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle.

Multicolored tubes and pipes run every which way in the cramped aquatic lab. The researcher controls his time machine by bubbling carbon dioxide into the seawater at different concentrations.

“The next tank over, we’re setting conditions of doubling of the current CO2 levels, which the models that have been done project we’ll reach by 2100, by the end of the century or before,” says McElhany.

Tom Banse, VOANews.com, 12 October 2010. Full article and audio.

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