Oceans Face Acid Test; Scientific Team Leads Research

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Byline: Sally Williams

SCIENTISTS at a SouthWales university are to lead research to discover the impact of increased acidity in the oceans on life on Earth. The Cardiff University academics will be in charge of the pounds 12m study, investigating what consequences acidic seas will have on life this century as a result of climate change.

Professor Paul Pearson said his team would look back 55 million years, to the last time that extreme greenhouse conditions existed on Earth, to measure the acidification in the oceans during that time and the impact on marine life.

They say modern-day ocean acidification was occurring at a rate faster than had been experienced during the past 20 million years.

And since the start of the Industrial Revolution, ocean acidity has risen by 30%.

Theywarnthat iftheacidity ofthe oceans and seas continues to increase at this rate and carbon dioxide emissions continue to rise, it could have serious consequences for the cycles that drive the climate, as well as for marine life and the whole food chain.

"As humanity aims to limit emissions, it is vital to predict the effects of acidification on our oceans," said Prof Pearson.

"We are just beginning this research but using new data and computer models, our aim is to estimate seawater acidity and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels for the period 60 to 40 millions years ago and look at how nature responded. …