Canadian study blames ocean acidity for mass extinction

A Canadian-led team of scientists may have solved the biggest whodunit in Earth history in a study showing that the all-time greatest mass extinction on the planet — which wiped out about 90 per cent of all species 250 million years ago — appears to have been linked to rising levels of ocean acidity.

Researchers have long believed that massive volcanic eruptions in present-day Siberia — or possibly a huge meteorite strike — triggered the so-called Permian-Triassic extinction. But the precise mechanism of death for so many species remains a subject of debate, with some scientists convinced it was a resulting lack of oxygen in the Earth’s oceans or a greenhouse-gas nightmare that nearly ended all plant and animal life.

But the Canadian study, headed by St. Francis Xavier University climate scientist Alvaro Montenegro, points to ocean acidification as a possible “main culprit” in the harrowing, prehistoric die-off.

Randy Boswell, The Vancouver Sun, 8 September 2011. Full article.

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