Friday, December 19, 2008

Ocean acidification - Threat to marine food chain

Ocean acidification is definitely among the biggest ecological problems we are facing today. Oceans absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) from Earth's atmosphere. Due to excessive fossil fuels burning there is a lot more CO2 in the atmosphere the water is also becoming more acidic which threatens not only corals, and other marine organisms that have shells and skeletons build out of calcium carbonate but also the complete marine food web.

Dr Donald Potts, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz said how increased ocean acidification will "disrupt developmental processes of populations and communities on many scales, and it's going to change the dominant organism in the food chain, with very real danger that it may short-circuit the food chains".

Ocean acidification is one of the biggest ecological problems

Ocean acidification will not affect all parts of the oceans equally. Within 100 kilometers (62 miles) of shore, acidity of ocean water is more variable than in the rest of the ocean. Fresh water and wind from the land can carry chemicals that alter the pH of near-shore water, making it either more acidic or more alkaline. There are probably some organisms in this region that are already starting to adapt to these changes in ocean acidity. But one thing is sure though, many marine species will fail to adapt if CO2 levels continue to rise.

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