Large ocean acidification is affecting the Arctic Ocean, particularly the Western Arctic Ocean. The new study suggests that a host of marine species such as shellfish and other species in the food chain are affected indirectly.
The study analyzed the changes taking place between the 1990s and 2010 when increased acidified waters conspicuously advanced 300 nautical miles northward from the Chukchi Sea.
Even in the arctic ocean, the expansion of acidic water has spread from sub-surface 325 feet to 800 feet plus.
Major Causes Of Acidification
Scientists say that the acid incursion in oceans is due to excessive intake of atmospheric carbon dioxide. The acidity of sea water is resulting in the shortage of materials needed by shellfish and it is indirectly disrupting the food chain.
“Acidification hampers the marine life especially the clams, mussels and tiny sea snails that may find it difficult to build or maintain their shells due to this acidified water,” said Richard Feely, senior scientist at NOAA and the study’s co-author.
The research study has been published in the journal Nature.
Co-author Wei-Jun Cai from the University of Delaware said the rate of acidification in the Arctic Ocean is almost twice as compared to the Atlantic or Pacific oceans.
Expanding Pacific Water
According to Di Qi, the paper’s lead author, acidification at the Arctic sea is making it worse by the entry of Pacific Ocean waters into the Arctic during winters and abetted by ocean currents and depleting Arctic sea ice, which helps in expansion of acidic water levels.
During the research, the scientists used icebreaker Xuelong of China to sample the Arctic Ocean waters and in various expeditions. They examined the ocean acidification from 2008 to 2010.
Ocean Life Under Threat
The world’s oceans are facing huge threats from the global warming. According to recent research, if emissions continue to increase, by 2050, many oceans will turn hot and acidic which will greatly affect all marine organisms basically the fish.
The increase in ocean temperatures take in more carbon and the resulting acidity causes the destruction of many species.
If emissions are reduced, these organisms get the relief of adaptation and obtain heat-resistant characteristics, with many fishes moving towards cooler poles.
Another study has observed that there has been 13 percent growth in ocean warming than the previous estimates and the pace is growing. This climate change was measured by a new sensing device that was deployed in 2005.
When the device is placed on the ocean surface, it sends information to satellites to measure the heat content. The device marks a great improvement over expendable bathythermographs which was earlier used to measure the sea temperature and was deployed across important shipping routes.