Underwater fissure provides window onto ocean acidification

Near-shore volcanic vents off Italy represent a microcosm of how the ocean may react to high levels of carbon dioxide

Undersea vents are providing researchers with a possible view of the future as seawater becomes more acidic due to carbon dioxide emissions.

Researchers at the Hopkins Marine Station at Stanford University looked at near-shore volcanic vents on the seafloor off the coast of Italy as a microcosm of how oceans may react to carbon dioxide, investigating how life changed in these localized environments.

“The most important outcome from this research is documenting how whole communities will respond to ocean acidification,” said Fiorenza Micheli, one of the researchers on this project and a professor at the Hopkins Marine Station. Though marine organisms respond differently to acidification, the team found that on the whole, ecosystems lose biodiversity in highly acidified environments.

Umair Irfan, Scientific American, 20 September 2011. Full article.


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