Released today at World Oceans Day:
CBD Secretariat Releases Scientific Synthesis of Ocean Acidification Impacts on Marine Biodiversity
14 December 2009: The Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has released a publication entitled “Scientific Synthesis of the Impacts of Ocean Acidification on Marine Biodiversity,” which highlights the direct link between climate change, ocean health and human well-being.
Prepared in collaboration with the UN Environment Programme-World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), and launched to mark Oceans Day during the Copenhagen climate change negotiations, the study is based on the analysis of over 300 scientific papers. According to the study, the absorption of atmospheric carbon dioxide has resulted in changes to the chemical balance of the oceans, causing them to become more acidic. It is predicted that by 2050, ocean acidity could increase by 150%. This dramatic increase is 100 times faster than any change in acidity experienced in the marine environment over the last 20 million years, giving little time for evolutionary adaptation within biological systems. Among other findings, the study shows that increasing ocean acidification will mean that by 2100 some 70% of cold water corals, a key refuge and feeding ground for commercial fish species, will be exposed to corrosive waters. In addition, given the current emission rates, it is predicted that the surface water of the Arctic Ocean will become under-saturated with respect to essential carbonate minerals by the year 2032, and the Southern Ocean by 2050 with disruptions to large components of the marine food source.
Noting that “ocean acidification is irreversible on timescales of at least tens of thousands of years, and substantial damage to ocean ecosystems can only be avoided by urgent and rapid reductions in global emissions of carbon dioxide,” CBD Executive Secretary Ahmed Djoghlaf called for “the integration of this critical issue at the global climate change debate in Copenhagen.” Read the report.
Written by NICHOLAS PARKER.