News24

Ocean acidity major reef threat

2012-07-09 08:25

Sydney - The head of a US scientific agency says ocean acidification is now one of the biggest threats to coral reefs across the world, acting as the "osteoporosis of the sea".

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration chief Jane Lubchenco said on Monday that the speed by which the oceans' acid levels has risen surprised scientists. She says the problem could threaten everything from food supplies to tourism to livelihoods.

Oceans absorb excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, leading to an increase in acidity. Scientists are worried about how that increase will affect sea life, particularly reefs, as higher acid levels make it tough for coral skeletons to form.

Lubchenco is in Australia to speak at the International Coral Reef Symposium in Cairns, near the Great Barrier Reef.

Comments
  • Tony-Lapson - 2012-07-09 09:08

    Who cares about what effects human have on the world... Right? It is way more important to make money, consume products, have a good time and breed uncontrollably.

      badballie - 2012-07-09 15:54

      don't forget around 70 billion tons of human effluent each year as we continue to pump feces and urine into the sea. This on its own means that there is no such thing as organically bred fish in the wild and guarantee's that all sea life has a level of man made chemical interference in its development and growth cycle.

  • terence.wessels - 2012-07-09 09:13

    Measure avg acidity, calculate approx. Litres of water, world governments fund the addition of alkaline to ocean to reach acceptable PH? Just a thought.

      antin.herinck - 2012-07-09 15:53

      Haha, Terence thinks that the world's oceans are like his swimming-pool. All the "world governments" need to do is go to their local Pool Shoppe and get Alkalinity Up. Now why did these dumb scientists not think of this before Terence did?

  • antin.herinck - 2012-07-09 15:52

    I remember reading a proposed project to locally seed the oceans with iron(-salts) so as to promote algae growth, and thus to sequestrate more CO2. Anyone knows what happened to the idea?

      antin.herinck - 2012-07-09 16:10

      Hmm, I decided to look it up meself. It's called "Iron Fertilization", done with very finely divided iron oxides or salts, and was tried in earnest in 2009. The ship actually departed from here, Cape Town. (Not much publicized, I at least did not hear about it.) It seems to be effective but they are very scared of unintended consequences. Also, it's very tightly constrained by international agreements. Of course this process will also remove a lot of CO2 from the atmosphere. I reckon we'll hear more about it, seems a great idea eve if a lot of research is still needed. For those interested, google a bit on "iron fertilization" + CO2 + sequestration.

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