March 20, 2009
Acidification putting sea life at risk
A U.S. biological oceanographer says acidification could be causing a slow-motion destruction of ocean ecosystems.
Victoria Fabry, a visiting researcher at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, said tests show just 48 hours of exposure to slightly corrosive seawater causes mollusc shells to start to dissolve.
The university said increasing levels of carbon dioxide could spell ecological disaster to industries dependent on the seas.
About a third of the carbon dioxide released in the burning of fossil fuels enters the oceans, where it reacts to form carbonic acid. The acid reacts with carbonate ions, making the ions less available in ocean waters to shell-forming organisms.