Oceans being turned to acid

Date: 1/8/2005

By the end of the century there could be wide-reaching and harmful changes in the ocean food chain, directly affecting a range of vital organisms from plankton to coral, and having a knock-on affect on larger marine animals, says the report from a working group of senior British scientists, which also warns that ocean acidification could itself be a possible cause of a speeding-up of climate change. Researches have recently realised that the massive amounts of carbon dioxide released by burning fossil fuels in huge amounts have yet another dangerous effect on the planet besides raising temperatures.  About half of the carbon dioxide produced remains in the atmosphere while the rest dissolves in the oceans where it reacts with sea water to produce carbonic acid. ‘Basic chemistry leaves us in little doubt that our burning of fossil fuels is changing the acidity of our oceans,’ said Professor John Raven, chair of the working group. ‘The rate of change we are seeing to the ocean’s chemistry is a hundred times faster than has happened for millions of years. The combined effects of climate change and ocean acidification means that corals could be rare on tropical and subtropical reefs, such as the Great Barrier Reef, by 2050.’

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