World oceans acidifying at unparalleled pace

By on October 9, 2012

Experts say the world’s oceans are acidifying at rates never before seen, leading many aquatic ecosystems into unknown territory.

Daniela Schmidt, a geologist from the University of Bristol in England, and Claudine Hauri, a University of Alaska oceanographer, agree the rates are alarming. Both attended the Third International Symposium on the Ocean in a High-CO2 World in Monterey, Calif., according to the Environmental News Network.

According to Schmidt, the most comparable period of ocean acidification was around 55 million years ago. That rate is still 10 times slower than current acidification, she said. Hauri pointed to the waters along the California coast, saying they’re changing so rapidly that their chemical makeup will be different within just 20 or 30 years.

The last increase in acidity, says Schmidt, led ocean species to respond by changing their distribution, composition or growth. Some even went extinct.

A paper on ocean acidification by Schmidt and colleagues was published in the journal Science.

Image: Moored Autonomous pCO2 (MAP-CO2) Buoy for ocean acidification research. Buoy engineered and deployed by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (Credit: Hendee, via Wikimedia Commons)

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