How does carbon dioxide affect marine life? And how can biodiversity mitigate climate change?

Director of Science at Plymouth Marine Laboratory Professor Steve Widdicombe has spoken on Radio FM4’s Klimanews this week, in anticipation of the Fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity. 

In the interview, Professor Widdicombe discusses how carbon dioxide affects the chemistry of our ocean, how this in turn affects marine food webs and wider marine life, and how nature-based solutions like blue carbon are key to mitigating climate change. 

Listen to the interview here >> 

“The carbon dioxide that we produce through the burning of fossil fuels – and also through changing land use and changing farming practices – it goes up into the atmosphere but the carbon dioxide doesn’t stay in the atmosphere.” 

“It reacts with the ocean, it dissolves into the sea water, and what happens then is that it reacts with the chemistry of the sea water to create this acid called carbonic acid.” 

The effects of the altered seawater chemistry have huge implications for sea life. It’s not just about the lower pH, the process also changes the level of chemical elements called ions which are very important to those organisms that build calcium carbonate shells.  

“Calcium carbonate is a form of chalk, so if we think about animals that use calcium carbonate like molluscs, clams, and scallops and mussels and things like that, also crustaceans like crabs, these animals are using these important ions to make their shells.” 

Plymouth Marine Laboratory, 12 December 2022. Full article.

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