Acidification in the Mediterranean sea: impacts and adaptation strategies

Introduction

Every year oceans, and seas, absorb about a quarter of the CO2 we release into the atmosphere. In the last five decades they absorbed between 24% and 30% of total anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions (Billé et al., 2013). Although this is an important contribution to slow the global warming process, the CO2 absorbed is changing the chemistry of the seawater. This phenomenon is known as Ocean Acidification (OA). Since the industrial revolution, the pH of surface ocean waters has fallen by 0.1 pH units and might decrease by 0.1-0.35 additional units by 2100 (Gattuso et al., 2011; IAEA, 2010; NOAA, 2010).

From biogeochemical reactions to socio-economic impacts

When CO2 is absorbed by seawater, chemical reactions occur that reduce seawater pH, carbonate ion concentration, and saturation states of biologically important calcium carbonate minerals (i.e. calcite and aragonite). Calcium carbonate minerals are the building blocks for the skeletons and shells of many marine organisms. Therefore, organisms that use aragonite for their shells or skeletons are the first to be adversely affected by acidification, because aragonite dissolves more easily under the changing conditions due to its different crystal structure. Another response related to pH modification is the increase in energy requirements to maintain their healthy metabolism.

These physical and biological reactions directly affect many important marine ecosystem services and impact indirectly social economic activities in coastal communities that often largely depend upon them. (…)

Bosello F., Delpiazzo E. & Eboli F., in press. Acidification in the Mediterranean sea: impacts and adaptation strategies. Review of Environment, Energy and Economics.  Article.


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