Friday, February 19, 2010

Long-term Ocean Oxygen Depletion in Response to Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Fossil Fuels

A panel of 155 scientists from 26 countries is warning that rising levels of CO2 in the world’s oceans are quickly making waters more acidic and threatening the health of shellfish and coral reefs. “Severe damages are imminent,” said the panel of oceanographers, chemists, and biologists. The problem of ocean acidification has recently drawn scientific attention. But the latest report takes the most comprehensive look at the problem and warns that rising CO2 emissions are fundamentally altering the chemistry of the sea, posing a direct threat to organisms that need calcium to build their shells. The panel said that the acidity of the ocean has increased 30 percent since the 17th century and that scientists already have discovered
decreases in shellfish, shellfish weights, and the ability of corals to grow skeletons. The oceans absorb about 25 percent of carbon dioxide emissions, and in the sea the gas dissolves to form carbonic acid. “Any increase in dead zones from global warming will last for thousands of years. They will be a permanent fixture” of our oceans, said lead researcher Gary Shaffer of
the University of Copenhagen. [Yale Environment 360]

Nature (February 2009, v2 n2, p105 – 109 ) / by Gary Shaffer, Steffen
Malskær Olsen and Jens Olaf Pepke Pedersen

Read the article (pdf)

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