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Global Carbon Dioxide Emissions Alter Ocean Ecosystems That Just Can't Keep Up

Published on: 28th September, 2016 | Marine Science
The ocean is the worlds largest ecosystem. Human influences are fundamentally changing the oceans which many countries rely on for economic revenue and food. The process of ocean acidification and global warming have the potential to decimate the ocean ecosystem, giving little time to adapt.

Research from the University of Adelaide has been published in the scientific journal, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (Available here: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2015/10/06/1510856112.full.pdf). They analysed collective data from 632 different published experiments (called a meta-analysis) and quantified the direction and magnitude of ecological change that has resulted from ocean acidification and global warming.

Ocean acidification is the process Ocean acidification is the ongoing decrease in the pH of the Earth's oceans, caused by the uptake of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere.

What they have predicted is that ocean acidification will lead to a simplification of ecosystem structure and function to reduce energy flow and give little scope for species to acclimate. They showed that warming and acidification lead to reduced calcification in tropical and temperate reef building species. In addition, analysis of responses in short and long term experiments of CO2 exposure, found that there was very little evidence for acclimation to acidification or warming.

This may change the conceptualisation of ocean acidification and warming and may lead to a reduction in diversity and abundance of various key species to marine ecosystems.

The original article ‘Oceans changing too fast for marine life to adapt’ by The Conversation is available here: http://indaily.com.au/opinion/2015/10/14/oceans-changing-too-fast-for-marine-life-to-adapt/


Ryan Duchatel

REC Divemaster, OC & CCR TEC diver. PhD candidate in Experimental Pharmacology