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Ocean acidification

[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]

National Research Council Study Finds CO2 Emissions Causing Ocean Acidification at Unprecedented Rate

April 23, 2010

The chemistry of the ocean is changing at an unprecedented rate and magnitude due to anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions; the rate of change exceeds any known to have occurred for at least for at least 800,000 years, concludes a congressionally requested study by the US National Research Council.

Unless anthropogenic CO2 emissions are substantially curbed, or atmospheric CO2 is controlled by some other means, the report finds, the average pH of the ocean will continue to fall. Ocean acidification has demonstrated impacts on many marine organisms. While the ultimate consequences are still unknown, there is a risk of ecosystem changes that threaten coral reefs, fisheries, protected species, and other natural resources of value to society.

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Synthesis Study Finds Ocean Acidification from CO2 Emissions Could Increase by 150% by 2050; Substantial Irreversible Damage to Ocean Ecosystems

December 16, 2009

Given increasing emissions of CO2 and the subsequent increased absorption by the oceans, ocean acidity could increase by 150% by 2050, according to a major new review and synthesis study released by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). This is an increase 100 times faster than any change in acidity experienced in the marine environment over the last 20 million years, giving little time for evolutionary adaptation within biological systems, the report says.

The launch of the study—Scientific Synthesis of the Impacts of Ocean Acidification on Marine Biological Diversity—was prepared in collaboration with the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) and marked Oceans Day during the current climate change negotiations in Copenhagen. The study presents a review and synthesis of existing literature and other scientific information on the potential impacts of ocean acidification on marine biodiversity.

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Marine Ecosystems Capture Carbon Emissions Equal to Near 50% of Emissions of Global Transport; UN Agencies Propose Blue Carbon Fund for Their Support

October 16, 2009

Carbon cycle. Credit: Riccardo Pravettoni, UNEP/GRID-Arendal. Click to enlarge.

A “Blue Carbon” fund able to invest in the maintenance and rehabilitation of key marine ecosystems should be considered by governments to combat climate change, according to a new Rapid Response Report released by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO.

The report estimates that carbon emissions equal to half the annual emissions of the global transport sector are being captured and stored by marine ecosystems such as mangroves, salt marshes and seagrasses.

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Statement from 70 National Science Academies Calls for Inclusion of Ocean Acidification in Copenhagen Agenda

June 01, 2009

Ocean acidification, a direct consequence of increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations, must be part of the agenda at the United Nations Copenhagen conference, the world’s science academies warned in a joint statement published by the InterAcademy Panel on International Issues (IAP). 70 national science academies signed the statement.

Ocean acidification is an important climate change challenge and is expected to cause massive corrosion of coral reefs and dramatic changes in the makeup of the biodiversity of the oceans, and to have significant implications for food production and the livelihoods of millions of people.

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