While everyone is more familiar with the heat and water level increase associated with climate change, a quicker threat is rearing its ugly head: ocean acidification. By as soon as 2030, oceans may become so acidic that animals may be unable to build or maintain their shells.
According to Jeremy Mathis, a member of the research team: “Our research shows that within 15 years, the chemistry of these waters may no longer be saturated with enough calcium carbonate for a number of animals from tiny sea snails to Alaska King crabs to construct and maintain their shells at certain times of the year.” “This change due to ocean acidification would not only affect shell-building animals but could ripple through the marine ecosystem.”
For the study, researchers observed variations in salinity, dissolved carbon, and salinity in two-month long visits to the Arctic. The data they gathered was then used to create a model to predict what would happen in that region. The model was focused on calcium and carbonate ions, things they can use to measure ocean acidification.
According to Mathis, “The Pacific-Arctic region, because of its vulnerability to ocean acidification, gives us an early glimpse of how the global ocean will respond to increased human-caused carbon dioxide emissions, which are being absorbed by our ocean.” “Increasing our observations in this area will help us develop the environmental information needed by policy makers and industry to address the growing challenges of ocean acidification.”