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Posted Sun Jan 9 2011: from WGBH Climatide:
Discovery of the year: ocean acidification is happening NOW
ocean acidification is the phenomenon in which carbon dioxide from the atmosphere dissolves in the surface waters of the ocean, producing carbonic acid that (in sufficient quantities) shifts the pH balance of the ocean toward acidity and impairs the ability of animals like oysters and corals to extract the calcium carbonate they need to build their skeletons or shells. In the past 200 years, the ocean has absorbed nearly a third of carbon dioxide emissions, resulting in a 30 percent increase in ocean acidity. Talmage and Gobler reared quahogs (Mercenaria mercenaria) and bay scallops (Argopecten irradia) under conditions simulating past, present, and likely future carbon dioxide levels. Not surprisingly (because numerous previous studies have documented similar findings), the shellfish of the future had severe shell defects, higher death rates, and slower growth than their modern-CO2 counterparts. What was less expected was the observation that modern conditions produced shellfish with thinner shells, slower growth, and death rates almost double those of shellfish grown in pre-industrial water conditions.
[Read more stories about: ocean acidification, carbon emissions, economic myopia]
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