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Coral Astroides Calycularis, one of the many marine organisms that will be harmed by marine acidification. (Photo: Ángel López Sans)

Sea and ocean acidification speeds up

WORLDWIDE
Friday, March 02, 2012, 23:50 (GMT + 9)

Researchers from several institutions who studied the anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions have warned that they alter the chemistry of sea and ocean waters, and are accelerating their acidification at "unprecedented" high speed.

The study, published in the journal Science, was joined by scientists from the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), from the Catalan Institute for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA) and from the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

As part of the investigation, the team found that the acidification process affects marine organisms and ecosystems.

The researchers have made it clear that although over the past 300 million years in the Earth’s history, the ocean chemistry underwent profound changes, none of which seems to have been as fast, large and global as the one taking place at present, CSIC reported.

It is explained that over 30 per cent of the anthropogenic CO2 emissions goes directly to the seas and oceans, which become more and more acidic.

Ocean acidification impairs the development of those species that develop calcium carbonate shells or skeletons, such as corals and molluscs. And also phytoplankton species, which form an essential link in marine food webs, on which fish and crustaceans, among other species, depend.

The researchers were devoted to analyzing the geological record by palaeontological geochemical evidence.

During the investigation, specific moments of the Earth’s history were spotted, which are associated with a profound acidification, such as the thermal maximum of the Paleocene-Eocene 56 million years ago.

According to Carles Pelejero, a researcher at the Institute of Marine Sciences of CSIC and ICREA, "due to volcanic emissions and destabilization of frozen methane hydrates in the seabed, large amounts of carbon were released into the atmosphere, which were as large as those humans may be able to emit in the future."

"During this event major extinction processes took place, especially of benthic fauna. However, the injection of CO2 was at least 10 times slower than the current one, which portends more catastrophic consequences to the current anthropogenic change," the expert added.

Meanwhile, Patrizia Ziveri, a researcher at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, warned: "In view of the impacts we have detected through the fossil record, there is no doubt that we should attack the root cause of the problem."

Besides, she stressed the need to take steps "to immediately reduce our CO2 emissions in the atmosphere."

By Analia Murias
[email protected]
www.fis.com


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