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Acidity Could Destroy Ocean Ecosystem

Audio

Aired 4/20/09

A San Diego researcher says the increasing acidity of seawater may cause widespread damage to marine life. KPBS Environment Reporter Ed Joyce has details.

The burning of oil and coal releases carbon dioxide.

Scientists say about 30 percent of the CO2 dissolves into seawater making the ocean more acidic.

A UC San Diego researcher says shellfish, such as sea snails and clams, are most at risk because the acid interferes with their ability to make hard shells.

Victoria Fabry is a biological oceanographer and visiting researcher at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

She says there's already a certain amount of ocean acidity, but there's still time to slow the process.

"Most people believe in this field that there's a window of a couple decades, 10 to 20 years, where we need to rapidly reduce our CO2 emissions," she said.

Without a reduction, she says damage to the oceans and marine life could be irreversible.

Fabry says nearly all marine life forms that build calcium carbonate shells are at risk from the rising ocean acidity including abalone, mussels, sea urchins and corals.

Ed Joyce, KPBS News.

 

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