Undersea carbon dioxide emissions provide glimpse into future

By on October 11, 2011

Researchers at the Hopkins Marine Station at Stanford University looked at underwater volcanic vents off the coast of Italy as a possible view of the future as seawater becomes more acidic due to carbon dioxide emissions.

One of the researchers on the project and a professor at the Hopkins Marine Station, Fiorenza Micheli, said, “The most important outcome from this research is documenting how whole communities will respond to ocean acidification.” According to the press, the ocean vents in this study release large quantities of carbon dioxide, which changes the water’s chemistry in the nearby environment through a process called ocean acidification.

Researchers say that these underwater volcanic vents are so unusual because they mostly emit carbon dioxide without the sulfur compounds found commonly in other volcanic vents. When carbon dioxide is absorbed in the water, whether from the air or from vents on the ocean floor, it forms compounds that cause the water’s pH to lower, making the ocean more acidic.

These carbon dioxide emissions also have an effect inland. Micheli noted that when regions become less productive in acidic conditions, it reduces the amount of food people can harvest.

Read more at Scientific American.

Image credit: Dhwanil Patel


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