Published on March 2nd, 2012 | by James Johnson0
Ocean Acidification Levels Increasing At 300 Million Year High
Acidification of Earth’s oceans is increasing at the fastest rate witnessed in the last 300 million years, despite four periods of mass extinctions.
Unlike past events which were witnessed because of natural disasters including various volcanic eruptions the most recent acid increases are linked most closely to human activites.
According to lead researcher Bärbel Hönisch, a paleoceanographer at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory:
“What we’re doing today really stands out. We know that life during past ocean acidification events was not wiped out — new species evolved to replace those that died off. But if industrial carbon emissions continue at the current pace, we may lose organisms we care about — coral reefs, oysters, salmon.”
As CO2 levels in our atmosphere increase oceans absorb that carbon dioxide which turns into a carbon based acid. After that process completes pH drops and water becomes more acidic.
While not an immediate threat to humans the lack of carbonates needed by some organisms such as corals, oysters and snails can lead to a lack of food supply for salmon and other fish.
In the groups study published on Thursday (March 1) in the journal Science Hönisch and his team found that the closest increase in acidification occurred 56 million years ago during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum. During that time atmospheric carbon concentrations doubled and global temperatures increased.
According to the study’s conclusion:
“The current rate of (mainly fossil fuel) carbon dioxide release stands out as capable of driving a combination and magnitude of ocean geochemical changes potentially unparalleled in at least the last 300 million years of Earth history, raising the possibility that we are entering an unknown territory of marine ecosystem change.”
Do you think humans are responsible for the increased acidification in the Earth’s oceans?