Oceans acidification peaks in 300 mn years

March 4th, 2012 - 4:43 pm ICT by IANS  

Madrid, March 4 (IANS) Ocean acidification levels have peaked in 300 million years, with scientists fearing unprecedented changes in marine chemistry in the near future.

Anthropogenic (manmade) acidification occurs when 30 percent of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, produced by burning fossil fuels, go straight into the ocean, altering their chemistry and turning them progressively acidic.

An international research effort has concluded that in the past 300 million years the chemistry of our oceans has undergone profound changes, although none seem to have been so rapid, so global, or to such an extent as the changes occurring presently, the journal Science reports.

The research was conducted by the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA) of Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), and the Catalan Institute for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA), according to an UAB statement.

“Considering the effects we detect through fossil records, there is no doubt that we must tackle the problem at its roots as soon as possible, adopting measures to immediately reduce our CO2 emissions into the atmosphere” said Patrizia Ziveri, researcher at ICTA.

Acidification harms many marine life forms and interferes with the development of shell-building species and those with calcium-carbonate skeletons, such as corals and molluscs.

It also can affect phytoplankton species, which are an essential part of the marine trophic network feeding fish, crustaceans and other species.

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