Burning of fossil fuels causing rise in ocean acidity (audio)

The burning of fossil fuels is causing a rise of acid levels in the ocean, and it may be harming sea life, according to a new study by researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Scientists have found ocean water becomes more acidic because about a quarter of the carbon emissions in the air go into the sea.

Jennifer Smith, an assistant professor of Marine Ecology at Scripps Institute of Oceanography, says that affects ocean life.

“As the water becomes more acidic, it becomes more difficult for things that have skeletons and shells, things like mussels and oysters. It makes it more difficult for them to build shells,” she said.

New monitors developed at the Scripps Institute in La Jolla found that ocean acidity may be rising faster than some organisms can adapt. Smith studies coral reefs, and says they are also at risk.

“We’re worried that [corals are] going to be particularly susceptible,” she said.

Todd Martz is an assistant professor of chemistry at Scripps Institute of Oceanography.

“The new aspect of ocean acidification science is that biologists and ecologists have really begun to look into it and test these organismal responses,” he said. “These biological aspects are really the forefront now.”

Helen Hawes, KPBS.org, 20 December 2011. Article and audio.–>

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