MCCIP Science Review 2017: Ocean acidification

The Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) reported in 2006 that:

  • there is high confidence that ocean pH is decreasing, and will continue to do so for as long as atmospheric CO2 continues to increase;
  • the impacts of ocean acidification on marine ecosystems and foodwebs are largely unknown.

And in 2017 that:

  • global ocean pH continues to decrease. The evidence base is more robust, with longer time-series, and with a wider range of physico-chemical measurements and greater geographic coverage;
  • there is evidence the overall effect of ocean acidification on marine ecosystems will be deleterious, e.g. a risk of substantive reductions in shellfish growth (and harvest) within 50 years, although some algae and seagrasses may benefit from increased availability of CO2.

And also that:

  • ocean acidification in UK seas over the last 30 years has been happening at a faster rate than for the wider North Atlantic;
  • interactions with other stressors (e.g. temperature, toxic metals, oxygen & food supply) and species-specific responses need to be considered to better understand impacts on ecosystems.

What we have learned:

Long-term ocean measurements are essential to understand how ocean pH varies over months to decades. The biological impacts of ocean acidification (for ecosystems, fisheries and aquaculture) not only depend on site-specific physical and chemical conditions, but also species physiology, adaptive capacity, food availability and occurrence of other stressors.

Williamson P., Turley C. & Ostle C., 2017. Ocean acidification. MCCIP Science Review 2017, 1-14, doi:10.14465/2017.arc10.001-oac. Report.


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