Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

'Evil Twin' threatens world oceans, scientists warn

29.03.2010
The rise in human emissions of carbon dioxide is driving fundamental and dangerous changes in the chemistry and ecosystems of the world’s oceans, international marine scientists warned today.

“Ocean conditions are already more extreme than those experienced by marine organisms and ecosystems for millions of years,” the researchers say in the latest issue of the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution (TREE).

“This emphasises the urgent need to adopt policies that drastically reduce CO2 emissions.”

Ocean acidification, which the researchers call the ‘evil twin of global warming’, is caused when the CO2 emitted by human activity, mainly burning fossil fuels, dissolves into the oceans. It is happening independently of, but in combination with, global warming.

“Evidence gathered by scientists around the world over the last few years suggests that ocean acidification could represent an equal – or perhaps even greater threat – to the biology of our planet than global warming,” co-author Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and The Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland says.

More than 30% of the CO2 released from burning fossil fuels, cement production, deforestation and other human activities goes straight into the oceans, turning them gradually more acidic.

“The resulting acidification will impact many forms of sea life, especially organisms whose shells or skeletons are made from calcium carbonate, like corals and shellfish. It may interfere with the reproduction of plankton species which are a vital part of the food web on which fish and all other sea life depend,” he adds.

The scientists say there is now persuasive evidence that mass extinctions in past Earth history, like the “Great Dying” of 251 million years ago and another wipeout 55 million years ago, were accompanied by ocean acidification, which may have delivered the deathblow to many species that were unable to adapt.

“These past periods can serve as great lessons of what we can expect in the future, if we continue to push the acidity of the ocean even further” said lead author, Dr. Carles Pelejero, from ICREA and the Marine Science Institute of CSIC in Barcelona, Spain.

“Given the impacts we see in the fossil record, there is no question about the need to immediately reduce the rate at which we are emitting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” he said further.

“Today, the surface waters of the oceans have already acidified by an average of 0.1 pH units from pre-industrial levels, and we are seeing signs of its impact even in the deep oceans”, said co-author Dr. Eva Calvo, from the Marine Science Institute of CSIC in Barcelona, Spain.

“Future acidification depends on how much CO2 humans emit from here on – but by the year 2100 various projections indicate that the oceans will have acidified by a further 0.3 to 0.4 pH units, which is more than many organisms like corals can stand”, Prof. Hoegh-Guldberg says.

“This will create conditions not seen on Earth for at least 40 million years”.

“These changes are taking place at rates as much as 100 times faster than they ever have over the last tens of millions of years” Prof. Hoegh-Guldberg says.

Under such circumstances “Conditions are likely to become very hostile for calcifying species in the north Atlantic and Pacific over the next decade and in the Southern Ocean over the next few decades,” the researchers warn.

Besides directly impacting on the fishing industry and its contribution to the human food supply at a time when global food demand is doubling, a major die-off in the oceans would affect birds and many land species and change the biology of Earth as a whole profoundly, Prof. Hoegh-Guldberg adds.

Palaeo-perspectives on ocean acidification by Carles Pelejero, Eva Calvo and Ove Hoegh-Guldberg is published in the latest issue of the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution (TREE), number 1232.

More information:
Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, CoECRS and Global Change Institute at UQ,
Ph +61 (07) 3346 7417 or 0401 106 604; email oveh@uq.edu.au)
Professor Carles Pelejero, ICREA and Institut de Ciencies del Mar, CSIC, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, Ph +34 93 2309500 ; email: pelejero@icm.cat
Dr. Eva Calvo, Institut de Ciencies del Mar, CSIC, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Ph +34 93 2309500 or +34 93 2309520 (direct); email: ecalvo@icm.cat
Jenny Lappin, CoECRS, 07 4781 4222
Jan King, UQ Communications Manager, +61 (0)7 3365 1120

| scinews.com.au
Further information:
http://www.coralcoe.org.au/

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Safeguarding sustainability through forest certification mapping
27.06.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht Dune ecosystem modelling
26.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Supersensitive through quantum entanglement

28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy under real ambient pressure conditions

28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Mice provide insight into genetics of autism spectrum disorders

28.06.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>