….highest levels of atmospheric CO2 and acidification of the Arctic’
Recent findings from the Mauna Loa research station in Hawaii – that CO2 levels have reached 400ppm for the first time in human history – have sparked a good deal of concern.
we’ve done it in reaching the highest levels of CO2 in the atmosphere in human history, but there is another effect that is only beginning to be measured: namely, such high levels of CO2 in the air promote acidification of the oceans.
Last week, during the Arctic Ocean Acidification International Conference held in Norway at the Norwegian Institute for Water Research, a sixty-strong international research team spelled out the actual and potential impact of these recent findings:
“The Atlantic Ocean is rapidly accumulating CO2, resulting in a decline in pH.” This means that “marine ecosystems and biodiversity will change, creating new economic, social and policy challenges”
According to scientists at the conference, the average acidity of the ocean’s surface has increased by 30% over the last two hundred years. The Arctic Ocean is particularly sensitive to this phenomenon due to the vulnerability of cold waters, which absorb more CO2. In addition, the Arctic is supplied by fresh water from rivers and melting ice which makes it “less able to chemically neutralize the effects of CO2 acidification”.
Researchers are trying to understand the risks to marine species from acidification, the main consequence of which is calcification which endangers corals as well as many molluscs, feeding fish and oysters.
Some species may be able to adapt, as with purple sea urchins found along the coasts of California and Oregon where the Pacific waters are more acidic than anywhere else. Scientists at Stanford University are currently researching the mechanisms of this species. This is the news article in Stanford News: Stanford seeks sea urchin’s secret to surviving ocean acidification