Thursday, February 23, 2012

Ocean acidification causing reduced marine biodiversity

Ocean acidification is a rising environmental threat despite not being high on global political agenda. The combination of ocean acidification and increasing water temperatures has already started reducing marine biodiversity in many corners of the world.

This lethal combination kills corals, shellfish and other valuable marine life, doing tremendous damage to marine food chain because many of these animals play extremely important role at the bottom of the food chain in oceans.

Dr Jason Hall-Spencer, of Plymouth University has found in his latest study that the ocean acidification is causing reduced biodiversity both in the tropics and in colder waters.

He also added that "Important groups like sea urchins and coralline algae cannot survive as the CO2 makes the water corrosive. And warming makes many of the organisms even more vulnerable to the corrosive effects of carbon dioxide – so shellfish and tourism industries are right to be concerned about ocean acidification."

The majority of organisms will suffer because of increased acidity in our oceans though the small number of organisms may even benefit from more carbon dioxide in the water. This is because some organisms have the ability to tolerate acidified seawater (usually those with protective layers that protect them from corrosion). However, large number of corals and shellfish doesn't have these protective layers.

The increasing ocean acidification is also likely to benefit some invasive species of algae and stinging jellyfish and the potential increase in population of these invasive species could add even more problems to many marine ecosystems.

Ocean acidification is still nowhere to be found on global political agenda which comes as a little surprise when you consider how useless last few climate talks were. Global carbon emissions are in the meantime still growing making our oceans more acidic which threatens the future life of many marine organisms.

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