Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Greenhouse gases causing huge ocean acidification

The increased emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) are not only contributing to global temperature increase but also cause huge ocean acidification.

According to the latest study by the University of Hawaii man-made carbon emissions have been main factor behind the increased acidity in our oceans. In fact, man-made carbon emissions over the last 100 to 200 years have raised ocean acidity far beyond the range of natural variations.

Ocean acidification is enormous threat to marine life because it impairs the ability of marine organisms such as corals and mollusks to form their skeletons or shells, and these marine organisms play key role in enabling the proper functioning of marine food chain.

If ocean acidification continues world will soon experience huge biodiversity loss in our oceans and seas. This is because such rapid increase in acidity leaves very little time for marine species to adapt.

The natural rate of change in climate has always left enough time for many species to adapt but this is no case with man-made climate change. The researcher Tobias Friedrich at the the International Pacific Research Center, University of Hawaii explained this by saying that "when Earth started to warm 17,000 years ago, terminating the last glacial period, atmospheric CO2 levels rose from 190 parts per million (ppm) to 280 ppm over 6,000 years. Marine ecosystems had ample time to adjust. Now, for a similar rise in CO2 concentration to the present level of 392 ppm, the adjustment time is reduced to only 100 – 200 years."

The only way to stop further ocean acidification is to drastically reduce the amount of carbon emissions on global level and this can be achieved only with very strict international climate deal. Judging by the latest climate change talks new climate deal is very low on political agenda of world leaders, well behind global financial woes that seem to be taking all the attention.

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