In the November 2007 Washington Watch article in BioScience, Adrienne Froelich Sponberg reports on recent congressional actions related to ocean acidification.
An excerpt from this article follows:
When it comes to the oceans and carbon dioxide, there’s good news and bad news. To date, the world’s oceans have absorbed nearly a third of the excess carbon dioxide emitted as a result of anthropogenic activities. That may be good news for the atmosphere, but scientists and policymakers are increasingly concerned about the side effect of carbon dioxide absorption: ocean acidification.
Since the industrial revolution, ocean pH has gone down by 0.1 units, which translates into a 30 percent surge in acidity. Scientists predict that pH will go down another 0.14 to 0.35 units by the end of this century. Accompanying the lower pH are lower saturation points of minerals such as calcium carbonate, the primary skeletal material of marine organisms that form the basis of ocean food webs, such as phytoplankton and coral reefs. As the ocean becomes more acidic, calcium carbonate begins to dissolve. The shift in ocean chemistry is so profound that the shells will literally dissolve off the backs of some organisms under the ocean conditions predicted for 2100, according to experiments conducted by Victoria Fabry, of California State University in San Marcos.
The rapid change in seawater acidity is almost unprecedented. At a Senate Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard Subcommittee hearing on ocean acidification, Scott Doney, of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, testified…
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