Monday, April 26, 2010

Ocean Acidity Skyrocketing

The National Research Council has some pretty grim and sobering things to say about the state of the world's oceans.

The oceans have become more acidic in the last few years than at any time in human history. Oceans absorb about one-third of all human-generated carbon dioxide emissions, including those from burning fossil fuels, cement production and deforestation, the NRC report says.

From the Santiago Times:

“The chemistry of the ocean is changing at an unprecedented rate and magnitude due to anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions,” the U.S. National Research Council said. “The rate of change exceeds any known to have occurred for at least the past hundreds of thousands of years.”

Ocean acidification eats away at coral reefs, interferes with some fish species' ability to find their homes and can hurt commercial shellfish such as mussels and oysters by reducing their ability to make their protective shells.

When carbon dioxide is absorbed by the oceans, it reacts with sea water to form carbonic acid. Unless human carbon dioxide emissions are curbed, oceans will grow more acidic, the report said.