New Study Reveals Resistance To Ocean Acidification Worsened By Warming
The living tissues and external organic layers of marine calcifiers such as corals and mollusks may play a large, but previously unappreciated, role in protecting these organisms from the corrosive effects of sea water, according to a paper published online in Nature Climate Change on August, 21 2011.
Using a series of transplantation experiments along a natural marine CO2 gradient found off the island of Ischia in Italy, Riccardo Rodolfo-Metalpa and colleagues show that corals and molluscs are able to calcify and grow at faster than normal rates when exposed to the high carbon dioxide levels that are projected for the next 300 years. The team suggests that although calcifiers continue to accrete shell or skeleton beneath healthy tissue, there is still risk of exposed shells and skeletons dissolving as pH levels fall, and only those with intact external protective layers remain protected. They also found that the adverse effects of climate change are exacerbated when high temperatures coincide with acidification.
Furthermore, researchers from Stanford University are currently studying the effects of undersea volcanic vents and the carbon dioxide they emit into marine ecosystems. The study, published online on August 15, 2011 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS), is using the effects of the ecosystems surrounding the vents as a small-scale comparison to what could happen to the oceans as a whole if ocean temperatures and acidity continue to rise.
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