West Coast ocean acidification rates among highest in world (audio and text)

Carbon emissions aren’t just causing climate change, they’re having a profound effect on ocean chemistry. Our oceans are becoming more acidic and this is a major threat to fisheries. Researchers have now recorded some of the highest levels of ocean acidification in the world,  right off the coast of the Pacific Northwest.

When oceans absorb carbon, they become more acidic, preventing oysters and tiny marine snails at the base of the food chain from forming shells. A new study from Oregon State University documents ocean acidification off the coast of California and Oregon.

“What we didn’t know is that if you’re an animal living on the shore, how often do you see a bad day?” Francis Chan, a lead author, said. “And now because we have sensors that are actually taking a measurement of ocean PH every 10 minutes throughout the summer, we can start to build that picture.”

The study found that while there were persistent hotspots of destructive acid levels, there were also areas that stayed within healthy ranges.

Chan said the findings should be used when planning how to make our fisheries more resilient to climate change.

Jes Burns, Northwest Public Radio, 1 June 2017. Audio and text.

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