Ocean’s chemistry is seriously in danger thanks to man-made climate change. “Ocean acidification is associated with several massive extinctions of marine life in that period of Earth’s history, and now presents a growing threat”, timesunion reports.
Now scientists have realized that this is happening faster than ever before, calling ocean acidification the evil twin of climate change. Tck Tck Tck writes: “Over the last hundred years, the ocean pH—which measures the relative acidity of a liquid—has fallen by 0.1 unit to 8.1 That may not sound like much, but according to a new study published in Science, it’s all but unprecedented. Ocean acidification is now almost certainly occurring faster than it has for at least 300 million years—and as the rate of manmade carbon emissions increases in the future, acidification will likely only accelerate.”
But what happens exactly for the oceans to go sour? Timesunion explains it as follows: “The burning of fossil fuels like oil, coal and natural gas releases the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. At the same time, about a quarter of the increasing CO2 is being absorbed by the oceans, where it is converted into carbonic acid. This is steadily making the ocean more acidic, which among other things can harm the ability of sea creatures to thrive, or make hard shells or skeletons. Rising acidification can also affect marine organisms by causing slower growth, fewer offspring, muscle wastage and dwarfism.”
Scientists don’t believe that all ocean life will die out very soon, but many of the creatures we care about are seriously at risk. Coral reefs, for example, which are crucial for the oceans, are disappearing at a fast pace. “If we don’t act, we could lose 70% of reefs worldwide by the middle of the century.”, an expert says in the Times magazine. Corals and other species are not only threatend by acidification. Rising sea temperatures, physical damage and coastal pollution are just as bad.
Soon there might be little left to be seen when we put our snorkels on. Let’s not forget: extinction is fatal and irreversible. Ocean acidifcation, however, can be stopped.
Picture by eutrophication&hypoxi a, thank you!