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Oceans Are About to Become Giant Pools of Seltzer

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robert99 robert99 Sweden Posts: 1360
1 11 Nov 2017
“I have to admit, we’re just scratching the surface here,” Ulf Riebesell told The Daily Beast recently. He’s talking about how only now, decades after climate change was recognized as an impending crisis, we’re figuring out how the extreme temperatures facing Earth will affect the water covering 71 percent of the planet.

Riebesell is the lead author of a landmark study involving more than 250 scientists, 580 peer-reviewed articles, 20 German research institutions, and 350 marine species, trying to understand how climate change will affect the world’s oceans. Eight diligent years and $25.5 million later, Riebesell’s team’s research was presented at the annual United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany, this week.

The findings: Our oceans are about to get extremely acidic (PDF see ).

Referred to by the scientific community as “the other carbon dioxide problem,” ocean acidification is the phenomenon of decreasing pH levels in ocean water. That’s in response to increasing carbon dioxide in seawater instead of in the atmosphere.

It might seem harmless, but the fact that carbon dioxide levels are about to spike up in the ocean has some potentially devastating, wide-ranging impacts on marine and human life. At risk is everything from global climate regulation to the availability of fish for human consumption.
Changes in migratory patterns of fish can also be expected, Riebesell said, which could wreak havoc on local communities, as fish once available close to a coast, for example, head for the deep ocean.

The degradation of coral reefs, already severely challenged by warmer waters, leaves nearby coastal areas vulnerable to erosion and storm surge, while also reducing habitat for coral-dependent food species.

Still, small steps are helpful and might make a big impact. Riebesell and Orlowski urged world leaders to honor the Paris climate agreement (the U.S. has not signed on to it), and say that even figuring out ways to reduce your personal carbon footprint with lifestyle modifications can have wide impact.

But is it too late to completely reverse ocean acidification? Maybe, Orlowski said. “The ocean is not too big to fail,” he lamented.