Acid Oceans Threatening Marine Food Chain, Experts Warn

The world’s oceans are turning acidic due to the buildup of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, and scientists say the effects on marine life will be catastrophic.

In the next 50 to 100 years corrosive seawater will dissolve the shells of tiny marine snails and reduce coral reefs to rubble, the researchers say (coral photos, facts, more).

Four leading marine experts delivered this grim prognosis yesterday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Francisco, California.

The scientists stressed that increased ocean acidity is one of the gravest dangers posed by the buildup of atmospheric CO2.

“Ocean chemistry is changing to a state that has not occurred for hundreds of thousands of years,” said Richard Feely of Seattle’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory.

“Shell-building by marine organisms will slow down or stop. Reef-building will decrease or reverse.”

Already, Feely said, ocean acidity has increased about 30 percent since industrialization began spurring harmful carbon emissions centuries ago. Unless emissions are reduced from current levels, an increase of 150 percent is predicted by 2100.

Such an increase would make the oceans more acidic than they’ve been at any time in the last 20 million years, he added.

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