Oceans Acidifying at Highest Rate in 300M Years

Columbia researchers warn of dangers to marine life
By Dustin Lushing,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 2, 2012 3:32 PM CST
Industrial emissions are endangering coral reefs, oysters, and salmon, say researchers at Columbia.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Industrial emissions are causing the oceans to acidify at a fast rate—the fastest in 300 million years, say researchers from Columbia University. That could spell danger for sea creatures. In the last century alone, the pH of the oceans dropped by 0.1 units. That's 10 times faster than the closest historical parallel, a drop that occurred 56 million years ago, reports Bloomberg.

Factories release carbon dioxide into the air, which is absorbed by the oceans, creating carbonic acid that lowers pH and acidifies the water. Historical occurrences of ocean acidification have been linked to mass extinctions. “If industrial carbon emissions continue at the current pace, we may lose organisms we care about—coral reefs, oysters, salmon,” says one scientist. (Read more oceans stories.)

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