Monday, April 5, 2010

Why are oceans becoming more acidic and what can we do about it?

Scientists are warning us that ocean acidification is becoming huge environmental problem. Ocean acidification is the result of excessive CO2 emissions, caused mainly by human activity. The main contributor to excessive CO2 emissions is burning of fossil fuels, and oceans are becoming more acidic because too much CO2 dissolves into the oceans.

Some scientists believe that ocean acidification could soon represent an equal or perhaps even greater threat to the biology of our planet than global warming, and therefore it is vital to significantly reduce CO2 emissions as soon as possible.

Scientists have calculated that more than 30% of the CO2 released from burning fossil fuels, deforestation and other human activities goes straight into the oceans, turning them gradually more acidic, and ocean acidification has very negative impact on many marine organisms, especially species whose shells or skeletons are made from calcium carbonate, like corals.

Ocean acidification has extremely negative impact on corals.

Ocean acidification can also cause great damage to reproduction of many plankton species that play vital role in many marine ecosystems, and this could disrupt the normal functioning of the food web in our oceans, and lead to extinction of many marine species.

If we look at the history of our planet many former "mass extinctions" were accompanied with increased levels of ocean acidification, and if we fail to do something quick about reducing CO2 levels we may very soon strike the death sentence to many marine species.

Scientists say that future acidification will primarily depend on how much CO2 humans emit in years to come, and if the current trend continues by the year 2100 the oceans will be likely acidified by a further 0.3 to 0.4 pH units, which will lead to death of many marine organisms, including corals.

The most worrying sign is that these changes in ocean acidification are happening at rates that are 100 times faster than they have ever been over the last tens of millions of years.

No comments:

Post a Comment