Friday, November 10, 2006

Expert: Oceans Turning More Acidic; 'A Major Threat to Marine Organisms'

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This is not new news of course. The ocean has long been viewed as a carbon sink. For all the years of the indutrial revolution, the CO2 in the atmosphere would need to be so great if there was no carbon sink. However, the oceans are very effective at taking atmospheric carbon and sending it to depth. As productivity increases, there is a large flux of carbon towards the bottom. Simple diffusive properties allow that the higher concentration of carbon in the atmosphere will then transfer to the surface water where the concentration is lower, and be used up by primary producers and be sunk and so on and so on. Increasing CO2 in the water decreases the pH, essentially as the oceans absorb more CO2 they are becoming more acid. This will be detrimental to marine organisms that produce calcium carbonate shells and strucutres, such as reef builders like coral and oysters, other bivalves and even phytoplankton like coccolithophores. This will have a dramatic impact on a global scale in terms of food web dynamics, fisheries, and the ecosystem in general... Here is the article from Underwatertimes:

Nairobi, Kenya (Nov 9, 2006 18:30 EST) The world‘s oceans are becoming more acidic, which poses a threat to sea life and Earth‘s fragile food chain, a climate expert said Thursday.
"The oceans are rapidly changing," said professor Stefan Rahmstorf on the sidelines of a U.N. conference on climate change that has drawn delegates from more than 100 countries to Kenya. "Ocean acidification is a major threat to marine organisms."
In a study titled "The Future Oceans — Warming Up, Rising High, Turning Sour," Rahmstorf and eight other scientists warned that the world is witnessing, on a global scale, problems similar to the acid rain phenomenon of the 1970s and 1980s.

David Santillo, a senior scientist at Greenpeace‘s Research Laboratories in Exeter, Britain, said it had come as a shock to scientists that the oceans are turning acidic because of carbon dioxide emissions.
Rahmstorf also reiterated warnings of rising sea levels caused by global warming, saying that in 70 years, temperature increases will lead more frequent storms with 200 million people threatened by floods.
The 1997 Kyoto accord requires 35 industrialized countries to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. The Kyoto countries meeting in Nairobi are continuing talks on what kind of emissions targets and timetables should follow 2012.

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