Acid Ocean Will Dissolve Sea Creatures' Shells

Researchers uncover another devastating impact of global warming
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted Oct 5, 2009 2:40 AM CDT
Is the end near for crusty sea creatures?   (©smallislander)
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(Newser) – Waters around the North Pole are absorbing so much carbon dioxide that acid in the ocean will soon begin dissolving sea creatures' shells, scientists warn. By 2018 10% of the Arctic Ocean will be corrosive, spelling potential disaster for the food chain as crustaceans begin to die off, reports the Telegraph. "We knew the seas were getting more acidic and this would disrupt shellfish ability to grow shells. Now we realize the situation is much worse," said lead scientist Prof. Jean-Pierre Gattuso.

The world's seas are turning acidic as carbon dioxide from pollution is converted to carbonic acid in the water. The situation is more dire in polar regions because the gas is more soluble in cold water. "Over the whole planet, there will be a threefold increase in the average acidity of the oceans, which is unprecedented during the past 20 million years," said Gattuso.