Scientists: Climate change causing Arctic Ocean to acidify at alarming rate

By Stephen C. Webster
Monday, May 6, 2013 10:27 EDT
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A happy polar bear. Photo: Shutterstock.com.
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Scientists with the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) warned Monday morning that the Arctic Ocean is acidifying much more rapidly than previously thought, adding that it will be “tens of thousands of years” before the worst effects of climate change on the Arctic Ocean can be mitigated.

The Arctic Ocean is particular vulnerable to acidification due to the rivers that flow into it, each carrying growing amounts of carbon runoffs every year.

Scientists warned that the acidification of the Arctic Ocean has the potential to affect marine life in profound and as-yet-unknown ways, endangering the ecosystem by threatening its smallest components.

The situation is growing worse each year as sea ice melts away, removing the ocean’s “cap” and allowing the cold, fresh meltwaters more surface area to absorb carbon that ever before, which accelerates the acidification process.

“Continued rapid change is a certainty,” AMAP study author Richard Bellerby told the BBC. “We have already passed critical thresholds. Even if we stop emissions now, acidification will last tens of thousands of years. It is a very big experiment.”

Globally, oceans are about 30 percent more acidic than they were during the industrial revolution, the BBC noted.

Photo: Shutterstock.com.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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