Saturday, 3 March 2012

Acidic shift may be fastest in 300 million years

Acidic shift may be fastest in 300 million years: "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 the rapid emission of carbon 56 million years ago, say scientists."... "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 US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who has conducted demonstrations about acidification during hearings in the US Congress.
Oceans get more acidic when more carbon gets into the atmosphere. In pre-industrial times, that occurred periodically in natural pulses of carbon that also pushed up global temperatures, the scientists write.
Human activities, including the burning of fossil fuels, have increased the level of atmospheric carbon to 392 parts per million from about 280 parts per million at the start of the industrial revolution. Carbon dioxide is one of several heat-trapping gases that contribute to global warming."

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