"Rising Levels of Acids in Seas May Endanger Marine Life, Says Study"

"Experts claim current rate of change is likely to be more than 10 times faster than it has ever been in Earth's history."

"Rapidly rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are causing a potential catastrophe in our oceans as they become more acidic, scientists have warned.

Hans Poertner, professor of marine biology at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany, and co-author of a new study of the phenomenon, told the Guardian: 'The current rate of change is likely to be more than 10 times faster than it has been in any of the evolutionary crises in the earth's history.'

Seawater is naturally slightly alkaline, but as oceans absorb CO2 from the air, their pH level falls gradually. Under the rapid escalation of greenhouse gas emissions, ocean acidification is gathering pace and many forms of marine life – especially species that build calcium-based shells – are under threat.

Poertner said that if emissions continue to rise at 'business as usual' rates, this would be potentially catastrophic for some species. Acidification is just one of a broader range of the problems facing the oceans and the combination of different effects is increasing the threat. Poertner said: 'We are already seeing warm water coral reefs on a downslide due to a combination of various stressors, including [rising] temperature. Ocean acidification is still early in the process [but] it will exacerbate these effects as it develops and we will see more calcifying species suffering.'"

Fiona Harvey reports for the Guardian August 25, 2013.

Source: Guardian, 08/26/2013