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Oceans acidifying faster today than in past 300 million years
Date:3/2/2012

Anthropogenic CO2 emissions, in addition to causing global warming, alter the chemistry of seas and oceans, causing them to turn progressively acidic. This change has severe effects on marine organisms and ecosystems. An international research published in the latest edition of the journal Science concludes that in the past 300 million years the chemistry of the Earth's oceans has undergone profound changes, although none seem to have been so rapid, so global, or to such an extent as the changes occurring presently.

The research included participation of the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA) of Universitat Autnoma de Barcelona (UAB), the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), and the Catalan Institute for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA), and reveals the magnitude and severity of the anthropogenic changes taking place in marine chemistry.

Analysis of Geological Records

Marine acidification occurs when CO2 emissions produced by human activities - mainly by the burning of fossil fuels - dissolve into the oceans. Over 30% of anthropogenic CO2 emissions go straight into the oceans, which are becoming progressively more acidic. Acidification harms many marine life forms and interferes with the development of shell-building species and those with calcium-carbonate skeletons, such as corals and molluscs. It also can affect phytoplankton species, which are an essential part of the marine trophic network feeding fish, crustaceans and other species.

Large part of the research into this subject is based on experiments carried out in aquariums simulating future acidifications which assess the response of organisms. This research however has analysed geological records using palaeontological and geochemical analyses and past acidification episodes to detect possible effects on marine biota.

Acidification and Large Scale Extinctions

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Contact: Maria Jesus Delgado
MariaJesus.Delgado@uab.cat
34-935-814-049
Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona
Source:Eurekalert

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