A Glimpse Into Future Ocean Environments – Lessons From A Naturally Acidic Ocean

With climate change warming and acidifying our oceans, it's tough to predict what the future will look like.

Something peculiar is happening in the azure waters off the rocky cliffs of Ischia, Italy. There, streams of gas-filled volcanic bubbles rising up to the surface are radically changing life around them by making seawater acidic. Stanford researchers studying species living near these gassy vents have learned what it takes to survive in acidic waters, providing a glimpse of what future oceans might look like as they grow more acidic.

Their findings, published December 11 in Nature Communications, suggest that ocean acidification driven by human-caused carbon dioxide emissions could have a larger impact than previously thought.

“When an organism’s environment becomes more acidic, it can dramatically impact not only that species, but the overall ecosystem’s resilience, function and stability,” said Stanford marine biologist Fiorenza Micheli, lead author on the paper. “These transformations ultimately impact people, especially our food chains.”

A natural laboratory

Most oceanacidification studies to date have taken place in laboratories, making it impossible to assess how whole ecosystems comprised of multiple, interacting species would be affected.

Read Full Story: Phys.org/Nicole Kravec/Stanford University

Photo: Cristian Palmer/Unsplash

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