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Dark Forescasts on Ocean Acidification

Two new studies show that ocean acidification is negatively affecting species and ecosystems, albeit to varying degrees. Acidification may also amplify global warming, according to a third study.

The oceans absorb more than a quarter of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere. They form a natural store without which the Earth would now be a good deal warmer. But their storage capacities are limited and the absorption of carbon dioxide results in their acidification.

Ocean acidification could change the ecosystems of our seas even by the end of this century, according to a new study by the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), Germany. After analyzing all available data on the reaction of marine animals to ocean acidification, scientists argue in Nature Climate Change that whilst the majority of animal species investigated are negatively affected by ocean acidification, the respective impacts are very specific. Corals are likely to have the toughest time, and mollusks like oysters and squids are also likely to suffer.

Full story in Time Magazine >>
Original Paper in Nature Climate Change >>

Meanwhile, Britain’s Royal Society has published fresh insights on how the global buildup of carbon dioxide released by human activities could affect ocean ecology. The papers, published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, add to a growing body of science pointing to large changes, with some types of marine organisms and ecosystems seemingly able to adjust and even thrive, while others ail. And it’s quite clear that regions already heavily affected by other human activities (coastal pollution, overfishing, etc.) are — no surprise — likely to feel more stress from acidification.

Full article in the New York Times >>
Papers of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: Theme Issue “Ocean Acidification and Climate Change >>

Finally, Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Germany, demonstrate in Nature Climate Change that ocean acidification may speed up global warming considerably through the biogenic production of the marine sulfur component dimethylsulphide (DMS).

Full story in Science Daily >>
Original Paper in Nature Climate Change >>

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