Over the next few decades, coastal waters off of California, Oregon, and Washington will likely become acidic enough to harm the rich fisheries and diverse marine ecosystems there, according to a new study, reports Peter Spotts at the Christian Science Monitor. As atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rise, so does the dissolved levels in the oceans. There the gas forms a weak acid, but strong enough to make it difficult for marine animals to absorb needed calcium for shells. The new study, published in the journal Science, focused on California coastal waters, home to important fisheries. The California Current there causes deeper, nutrient-rich but somewhat more acidic water to rise to the surface, and that extra acidity makes these waters likely to reach critical acidic levels from carbon dioxide absorption. The study estimates that by 2050 over half of California coastal waters are likely to be so acidic that marine species will be unable to maintain their shells. That might happen even soon to continental shelf habitats. Seawater is acidifying throughout the Pacific, and levels of deeper, more acidic water are rising closer to the surface several feet a year.
Global warming’s evil twin threatens West Coast fishing grounds. Over the next few decades, coastal waters off of California, Oregon, and Washington are in danger of becoming acidic enough to harm the rich fisheries and diverse marine ecosystems there, according to a new study. Christian Science Monitor