Saturday, November 16, 2013

Ocean acidification set to spiral out of control

Jan Piotrowski in The continued release of greenhouse gases into the air is set to bring about huge changes to land ecosystems as they are forced to adapt to rising temperatures. But the marine world — which is just as integral to human existence yet receives little attention during climate negotiations — will endure a similarly tumultuous time as emissions rise, scientists say.

“Changing oceans will cause massive destruction of coral reefs, which, with their rich biodiversity, are the jungles of the sea,” says Luis Valdes, the head of ocean science at UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC-UNESCO), and co-author of a forthcoming report into ocean acidification.

This is expected to hit marine species used for food and have knock-on effects on coastal communities, especially in developing countries. Business-as-usual carbon dioxide emissions will lead to the acidity levels of oceans rising by 170 per cent by 2100 compared with pre-industrial levels, according to a report to be launched next week at COP 19 (Conference of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change).

The report will be published jointly by the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme, the IOC-UNESCO and the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research. As carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere rise, some of this extra carbon is absorbed by the oceans and converted into acidic compounds...

A bubble filters the sun, shot by Joe Burch, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

No comments: