CO2 Causing Rapid Ocean Acidification

WASHINGTON, April 27 (UPI) — U.S. scientists say man-made carbon dioxide emissions are producing an unprecedented increase in the rate of acidification of the Earth’s oceans.

The summary of a congressionally requested study by the National Research Council says unless carbon dioxide emissions are substantially curbed or atmospheric CO2 is controlled by some other means, the oceans will continue to become more acidic. The long-term consequences of ocean acidification on marine life are unknown but the report says many ecosystem changes are expected.


Researchers explained the oceans absorb approximately one-third of man-made CO2 emissions, including those from fossil-fuel use, cement production and deforestation. The CO2 taken up by the ocean decreases the pH of the water and leads to a combination of chemical changes collectively known as ocean acidification.

The rate of acidification projected to the end of the century exceeds any known to have occurred in hundreds of thousands of years, the report said.

Existing data suggest that situation will lead to shifts in the composition and functioning of many marine ecosystems, potentially threatening coral reefs, fisheries, protected species and other natural resources.

A summary of the report is available at http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12904.

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