Skip to comments.Global warming turning sea into acid bath (Warning: Hyperbolic overload!)
Posted on 06/08/2008 5:22:50 PM PDT by markomalley
Increasing carbon dioxide emissions could leave species such as coral and sea urchins struggling to survive by the end of the century because they are making the oceans more acidic, research led by British scientists suggests.
The study of how acidification affects marine ecosystems has revealed a striking impact on animal and plant life. The findings, from a team led by Jason Hall-Spencer, of the University of Plymouth, indicate that rising carbon emissions will alter the biodiversity of the seas profoundly, even before the effects of global warming are taken into account.
Greater concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere mean that more of the gas becomes dissolved in seawater, increasing its acidity. This will have good consequences for some species, but be catastrophic for others.
Dr Hall-Spencer's team investigated the likely effects of acidification by studying natural underwater vents off the coast of Italy, where carbon dioxide bubbles up through the sea floor. This makes the water around the vents significantly more acidic than it is in surrounding areas.
The study, published in the journal Nature, shows that certain species are very badly affected by rising acidity. Corals of the Caryophyllia, Cladocora and Balanophyllia varieties, for example, were common in on the sea bed in the region, but absent close to the vents. Sea urchins and sea snails were also affected badly by the high acidity.
Other species, including sea-grass and a type of algae known as Sargassum, thrived as the extra carbon dioxide has a fertilising effect. This extra growth, however, can be damaging to other sea life - Sargassum is an alien invasive species, carried to the region in the ballast of shipping.
The research team is the first to use natural underwater carbon dioxide vents to assess how acidity caused by the gas influences sea life. Our field studies provide a window on the future of the oceans in a high CO2 world, Dr Hall-Spencer said.
We show the dramatic ecological consequences of ocean acidification including the removal of corals, snails and sea urchins and the proliferation of invasive alien algae.
Our observations verify concerns, based on laboratory experiments and model predictions, that marine food webs will be severely disrupted and major ecological tipping-points are likely if human CO2 emissions continue unabated.
This appraisal of life in a more acidic ocean was if anything conservative, Dr Hall-Spencer said, because it mimicked future ecosystems only partially.
The acidity around carbon dioxide vents can be reduced by rough conditions, which dilute the water - something that would not happen if the whole ocean was highly acidic.
The researchers also noted that while fish continued to swim through more acidic waters, they avoided breeding or spawning in them. That isn't a problem at the moment, as they can go elsewhere, Dr Hall-Spencer said. But in a more acidic ocean there will be no escape.
Global warming will also have an independent impact on sea life, by raising ocean temperatures.
God help us all!
I can feel my wallet getting $45T lighter even as I type!
There may be some truth to this. I went to the beach this weekend, and when I returned my skin was red and sensitive to the touch.
My god, the “biodiversity” of the oceans is in jeopardy. The “biodiversity.” I mean, our small, dull, purposeless lives are NOTHING in comparison to the “biodiversity” of the oceans. Nothing.
These kinds of revelations are important when you are terrified of having to look for a REAL job and you rely on government funding to stay employed. Tell ‘em what they want to hear and the money will continue rolling in.
The good news is that higher ocean temperatures cause degassification which means that the oceans will release carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, lowering seawater acidity.
These stories all have the caveat “could leave”. The word “could” is used quite extensively in these stories.
I think they’ve been “doing acid”
It's too late, it's already happening!!!!!!!
It must be true! I was at the beach today and I saw a skeleton of a fish! It had to be acid, what else could it be?
A Junior High student won a award and the drawing was published in all the major local papers where the claim was made that sea levels will rise two-hundred feet, with the addition of that much fresh water the acidity ought to drop.
Can’t we just dump giant Tums tablets into the ocean?
Couldn’t be. It must have been acid rain, or smog, or excessive bites by sand mites, or possibly some rare disease not discovered yet by WHO or UN.
We are all doomed.
That must mean the erf PRODUCES CO2! We're doomed.
“The good news is that higher ocean temperatures cause degassification which means that the oceans will release carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, lowering seawater acidity.”
This is why the carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere is rising, after the earth warms up. Hi C02 levels is an effect not a cause.
So I was hungry and through my garbage on the beach. Big deal.
I am the product of the public education system and I meant to say threw instead of through.
It seems there is no way to stop these out of control CO2 emissions. It does appear that we are indeed doomed.
Good catch, Libloather.