"The world's oceans are turning acidic at what could be the fastest pace of any time in the past 300 million years, even more rapidly than during a monster emission of planet-warming carbon 56 million years ago, scientists said on Thursday.
Looking back at this bygone warm period in Earth's history could offer help in forecasting the impact of human-spurred climate change, researchers said.
Quickly acidifying seawater eats away at coral reefs, which provide habitat for other animals and plants, and makes it harder for mussels and oysters to form protective shells. It can also interfere with small organisms that feed commercial fish like salmon.
The phenomenon has been a top concern of Jane Lubchenco, the head of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who has conducted demonstrations about acidification during hearings in the U.S. Congress."
Deborah Zabarenko reports for Reuters March 2, 2012.
"Pace of Ocean Acidification Has No Parallel in 300 Million Years, Paper Finds" (New York Times)