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  • Ocean acidification is 'harmful to marine life and climate change'
    Oceans could become more acidic due to carbon dioxide, which could damage marine life

Ocean acidification is 'harmful to marine life and climate change'

Aug 27 2013 Read 996 Times

The increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide could be having more of an effect than leading to an increase in global temperatures as the effects of climate change are felt. The increase in greenhouse gases that are present in the atmosphere could also be leading to the world's oceans becoming more acidic, according to scientists.

Increasing ocean acidity is potentially harmful for a wide range of sea dwelling life forms. The world's oceans are naturally more alkaline than acidic, however, as the levels of carbon dioxide in the air increase, the oceans are absorbing more of the gas. As more carbon dioxide is dissolved into the water, the PH balance becomes upset and begins to become more acidic.

Ocean acidification is becoming a much more prominent problem as the amount of air pollution being created around the globe continues to increase. According to scientists, the continued rate of carbon dioxide release could be fatal to several species of marine life. Certain species will be more affected by the increase in acidity than others - such as those with calcium-based shells - but the effects will still be widely felt.

Further research into this area has also suggested that the increase in ocean acidity levels could also contribute toward global warming. Some scientists are suggesting that the acidity levels will mean that phytoplankton - small marine plants - will start to die off. These plants produce dimethyl sulphide (DMS), which helps to reflect sunlight away from the earth when it enters the air. The chemical also helps to brighten clouds, which further reflect sunlight.

If phytoplankton no longer exists, or functions at a diminished capacity, it is likely that climate change could occur at a faster rate. This would cause further problems for the oceans, but also for land dwelling animals.

Whilst all studies into this area do not pinpoint this strong link to ocean acidity and climate change, the majority of scientists agree that the increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases is affecting the oceans. It is possible that this could be slowed down if the rate of emissions being produced around the world is reduced as quickly as possible.

 

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