Sunday, April 8, 2007

Acidic oceans

The acidity of the ocean has increased by 30% since pre-industrial times and is predicted to double by 2100 because of increased uptake of CO2 according to expatriate Australian Australia’s leading oceanographer, Dr Tony Haymet, former Chief of Marine and Atmospheric Science at CSIRO, now director of the prestigious Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Vice Chancellor of Marine Sciences at the University of California.

Increasing the amount of CO2 in the oceans causes an increase in hydrogen carbonate ions, HCO3-, but a decrease in carbonate CO22- which organisms need to make calcium carbonate shells and other structures.

The predicted acidity increase will have unknown consequences for marine life and ecosystems such as coral reefs, tiny marine organisms called pteropods, and fish larvae to name but three.

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