Paris, July 16 The world's oceans are absorbing an unprecedented amount of carbon dioxide (CO2
), which is increasing their acidity and possibly threatening the survival many marine species, especially calcifying organisms including corals, shellfish and phytoplankton. According to research presented recently at a symposium organized by UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and the International Council for Science's Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR), this in turn could disrupt marine food chains and alter ocean biogeochemistry in ways that are not yet understood or predictable.
The symposium brought together scientists from the world's leading oceanographic institutions to discuss how the ocean might be affected by higher levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, and to develop research priorities to study these future effects. They were also called upon to discuss potential environmental consequences of proposals to use the ocean to sequester excess atmospheric CO2, which is one of the most important greenhouse gases.
A report on the meeting's conclusions, now available online*, points out that the ocean is one of the Earth's largest natural reservoirs of carbon and each year absorbs approximately one third of the carbon dioxide emitted by human activities. According to research** led by Christopher Sabine of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration in the United States (NOAA, an IOC Member State Agency)* the ocean has taken up approximately 120 billion metric tons of carbon generated by human activities since 1800. The IOC reports that some 20-25 million tons of CO2 are being are being added to the oceans each day.
The absorption of carbon dioxide by the oceans is considered a beneficial process that reduces the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere and mitigates its impact on global temperatures. However there is growing concern over the price of this service. ForPage: 1 2 3 Related biology news :1
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