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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Ocean Acidification Study

Good news for us scuba divers, the UK government has launched an ambitious £11m five-year study into the impacts of ocean acidification.

Researchers are growing concerned that seas are absorbing CO2 at unprecedented rates and risking upsetting the delicate balance for life in the oceans.

The issue is now considered one of the major environmental issues of this century.

The study, co-funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Natural Environment Research Council (Nerc), will also examine the implications for people and the economy.

In a statement, Nerc said: “The associated increases in ocean acidity over coming decades are likely to be at a rate and on a scale unprecedented in at least the last 20 million years.

"Under such conditions, organisms creating aragonite skeletons face serious challenges.”

The study will focus on the Atlantic, Antarctic and Arctic oceans and assess how marine ecosystems are affected.

It is thought as much as half of all CO2 released by burning fossil fuels over the past 200 years has been absorbed by world’s oceans.

This has lowered the pH value of seawater and researchers fear it could result in a massive extinction of life in the seas.

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