The likely result: "profound changes" in the structure and functioning of marine ecosystems, say Gehlen and Paul Trguer, of l'Institut Universitaire Europen de la Mers, in Brest, France.
Some of the most important drops in pH have been reported in the Iceland Sea, an important source of North Atlantic deep water. Here, the winter surface water reading decreased by 0.0024 units per year between 1985 and 2008 a rate 50 per cent faster than at two subtropical monitoring stations.
The depth at which the water contains too little aragonite to support life is now at 1,710 metres, and is increasing by about 4 metres per year. This rate of change, combined with the topography of the ocean floor in the region means that each year another 800 square kilometres of sea floor becomes exposed to this "dead" water.
Plankton surveys invariably reveal harmful impacts of these changes, especially at shallower depths, which are home to more of the organisms that rely on aragonite and calcium carbonate, the report states. Still, "there is an urgent need to clarify the effects."
Shoreline erosion on the rise
If, as expected, climate change leads to higher sea levels and more frequent and fierce storms, erosion along Europe's coast will accelerate. Precise predictions are difficult, because the impacts will depend on detailed local conditions, says Andrew Cooper, professor of coastal studies at the University of Ulster, in Ireland.
One general pattern, however, is that in Northern Europe, the land is still rebounding from the weight of Ice Age glaciers and as it rises, sea level, in effect, falls. In Southern Europe, however, with the land static or, in come cases subsiding, the sea is rising relative to the height of the shoreline.
As climate change raises sea level it will likely increa
|Contact: Terry Collins|
Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ)