Anthropogenic modification of the oceans

Human activities are altering the ocean in many different ways. The surface ocean is warming and, as a result, it is becoming more stratified and sea level is rising. There is no clear evidence yet of a slowing in ocean circulation, although this is predicted for the future. As anthropogenic CO2 permeates into the ocean, it is making sea water more acidic, to the detriment of surface corals and probably many other calcifiers. Once acidification reaches the deep ocean, it will become more corrosive to CaCO3, leading to a considerable reduction in the amount of CaCO3 accumulating on the deep seafloor. There will be a several thousand-year-long interruption to CaCO3 sedimentation at many points on the seafloor. A curious feedback in the ocean, carbonate compensation, makes it more likely that global warming and sea-level rise will continue for many millennia after CO2 emissions cease.

Tyrrell T., 2011. Anthropogenic modification of the oceans. 369(1938):887-908. Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society A Article (subscription required).


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