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Climate change

Carbon-dioxide emissions causing world's oceans to become more acidic, threatening marine life

Wednesday, July 05, 2006 by: NewsTarget
Tags: climate change, ocean life, ocean health


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(NewsTarget) Government as well as independent scientists are becoming concerned about the rising acidity of the world's oceans caused by the increasing release of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere.

Six House members received a two-hour briefing on the subject in May, and Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., commented, "It's just been an absolute time bomb that's gone off both in the scientific community and ultimately, in our public policymaking. It's another example of when you put gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, you have these results none of us would have predicted."

The trend used to be viewed as positive, because it alleviated the effects of global warming. But a press release from the National Center for Atmospheric Research stated that CO2 emissions are "dramatically altering ocean chemistry and threatening corals and other marine organisms that secrete skeletal structures." Although the phenomenon is not as debatable as global warming, there are still skeptics.

Hugo Loaiciga, a geography professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara, acknowledged that certain regions of the ocean may become more acidic over time, but added that "on a global scale and over the time scales considered [hundreds of years], there would not be accentuated changes in either seawater salinity or acidity from the rising concentration of atmospheric CO2." Loaciga published a paper in the May edition of the American Geophysical Union's journal that suggested enough carbonate material would help restore equilibrium in the ocean, counteracting its acidity.

Numerous scientists doubt Loaiciga's report, since it would take thousands of years for carbonate material to reach the ocean from land. One scientist said, "The paper by Loaiciga ignores decades of scholarship, presents inappropriate calculations and draws erroneous conclusions that simply do not apply to (the) real ocean."

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