Oceans Acidifying Fastest in 300 Million Years Due to Emissions
The Earth’s oceans may be acidifying faster than at any point during the last 300 million years due to industrial emissions, endangering marine life from oysters and reefs to sea-going salmon, researchers said. Scientists found surging levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere forced down the pH of the ocean by 0.1 unit in the last century, 10 times faster than the closest historical comparison from 56 million years ago, according to New York’s Columbia University, which led the research. The seas absorb CO2 from the atmosphere, forming carbonic acid. The lower the pH level in the seas, the more acidic they are.
Past instances of ocean acidification have been linked with mass extinctions of marine creatures so the current one could also threaten important species, according to Baerbel Hoenisch, the paleoceanographer at Columbia who was lead author of the paper that appeared in the journal Science.