Ocean acidification may hit unprecedented levels

Ocean acidification is likely to hit the levels not seen in the past 14 million years, under a ‘business-as-usual’ scenario of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, according to a study.

Ocean acidification occurs when CO2 from the atmosphere is absorbed by seawater, resulting in more acidic water with a lower pH, said researchers from the Cardiff University in the UK.

The rapid influx of CO2 in to the oceans is severely threatening marine life, with the shells of some animals already dissolving in the more acidic seawater.

Around a third of the CO2 released by burning coal, oil and gas gets dissolved into the oceans.

Since the beginning of the industrial era, the ocean has absorbed around 525 billion tonnes of CO2, equivalent to around 22 million tonnes per day, researchers said.

In the study the researchers set out to reconstruct levels of ocean acidity and atmospheric CO2 levels over the past 22 million years.

They did so by studying the fossils of tiny marine creatures that once lived near the ocean surface, specifically using the chemistry of their shells to monitor the acidity of the seawater in which the creatures lived.

Based on this information, the researchers were able to put their new records of pH (a scale of acidity) and CO2 levels.PTI

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