Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ocean acidification: 'Evil twin' threatens world's oceans, scientists warn

Date:
April 1, 2010
Source:
ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies
Summary:
The rise in human emissions of carbon dioxide is driving fundamental and dangerous changes in the chemistry and ecosystems of the world's oceans, marine scientists warn. "Ocean conditions are already more extreme than those experienced by marine organisms and ecosystems for millions of years," the researchers say.

The rise in human emissions of carbon dioxide is driving fundamental and dangerous changes in the chemistry and ecosystems of the world's oceans, international marine scientists have warned.
Credit: iStockphoto/Alberto L. Pomares G.

The rise in human emissions of carbon dioxide is driving fundamental and dangerous changes in the chemistry and ecosystems of the world's oceans, international marine scientists have warned.

"Ocean conditions are already more extreme than those experienced by marine organisms and ecosystems for millions of years," the researchers say in the latest issue of the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution.

"This emphasises the urgent need to adopt policies that drastically reduce CO2 emissions."

Ocean acidification, which the researchers call the 'evil twin of global warming', is caused when the CO2 emitted by human activity, mainly burning fossil fuels, dissolves into the oceans. It is happening independently of, but in combination with, global warming.

"Evidence gathered by scientists around the world over the last few years suggests that ocean acidification could represent an equal -- or perhaps even greater threat -- to the biology of our planet than global warming," co-author Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and The University of Queensland says.

More than 30% of the CO2 released from burning fossil fuels, cement production, deforestation and other human activities goes straight into the oceans, turning them gradually more acidic.

"The resulting acidification will impact many forms of sea life, especially organisms whose shells or skeletons are made from calcium carbonate, like corals and shellfish. It may interfere with the reproduction of plankton species which are a vital part of the food web on which fish and all other sea life depend," he adds.

The scientists say there is now persuasive evidence that mass extinctions in past Earth history, like the "Great Dying" of 251 million years ago and another wipeout 55 million years ago, were accompanied by ocean acidification, which may have delivered the deathblow to many species that were unable to cope with it.

"These past periods can serve as great lessons of what we can expect in the future, if we continue to push the acidity the ocean even further" said lead author, Dr. Carles Pelejero, from ICREA and the Marine Science Institute of CSIC in Barcelona, Spain.

"Given the impacts we see in the fossil record, there is no question about the need to immediately reduce the rate at which we are emitting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere," he said further.

"Today, the surface waters of the oceans have already acidified by an average of 0.1 pH units from pre-industrial levels, and we are seeing signs of its impact even in the deep oceans," said co-author Dr. Eva Calvo, from the Marine Science Institute of CSIC in Barcelona, Spain.

"Future acidification depends on how much CO2 humans emit from here on -- but by the year 2100 various projections indicate that the oceans will have acidified by a further 0.3 to 0.4 pH units, which is more than many organisms like corals can stand," Prof. Hoegh-Guldberg says.

"This will create conditions not seen on Earth for at least 40 million years."

"These changes are taking place at rates as much as 100 times faster than they ever have over the last tens of millions of years" Prof. Hoegh-Guldberg says.

Under such circumstances "Conditions are likely to become very hostile for calcifying species in the north Atlantic and Pacific over the next decade and in the Southern Ocean over the next few decades," the researchers warn.

Besides directly impacting on the fishing industry and its contribution to the human food supply at a time when global food demand is doubling, a major die-off in the oceans would affect birds and many land species and change the biology of Earth as a whole profoundly, Prof. Hoegh-Guldberg adds.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Carles Pelejero, Eva Calvo and Ove Hoegh-Guldberg. Palaeo-perspectives on ocean acidification. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 30 March 2010 DOI: 10.1016/j.tree.2010.02.002

Cite This Page:

ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies. "Ocean acidification: 'Evil twin' threatens world's oceans, scientists warn." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 April 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100330092821.htm>.
ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies. (2010, April 1). Ocean acidification: 'Evil twin' threatens world's oceans, scientists warn. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100330092821.htm
ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies. "Ocean acidification: 'Evil twin' threatens world's oceans, scientists warn." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100330092821.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Buzz60 (Oct. 20, 2014) An entomologist stumbled upon a South American Goliath Birdeater. With a name like that, you know it's a terrifying creepy crawler. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Adorable Video of Baby Rhino and Lamb Friend Playing

Adorable Video of Baby Rhino and Lamb Friend Playing

Buzz60 (Oct. 20, 2014) Gertjie the Rhino and Lammie the Lamb are teaching the world about animal conservation and friendship. TC Newman (@PurpleTCNewman) has the adorable video! Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins