Ocean Acidification Study: Life in Ocean Threatened

Barbel Honisch, a paleoceanographer at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and Andy Ridgwell of the University of Bristol, coauthored a paper on ocean acidification that was recently featured in the journal “Science.“ The study found that our oceans may be acidifying faster than at any point during the last 300 million years, endangering marine life from oysters and reefs to sea-going salmon.

An international team of researchers examined hundreds of paleoceanogrpahic studies, including fossils wedged in seafloor sediment from millions of years ago.  They found only one time in history that came close to what scientists are seeing today in terms of ocean life die off and that happened 56 million years ago.  The current rate of ocean acidification is at least 10 times faster than it was 56 million years ago.

“We know that life during past ocean acidification events was not wiped out, new species evolved to replace those that died off, but if industrial carbon emissions continue at the current pace, we may lose organisms we care about: coral reefs, oysters and salmon,” said Honisch.

A separate study done by Stony Brook University, found that increasing acidity stunts the growth of bay scallops and hard clams, eventually inhibiting their shell making ability.

Seafood harvests may be at increasing risk in coming years due to the acidification.

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