'We were shocked': Scientists discover Arctic Ocean acidifying up to four times the rate of other seas

'We were shocked': Scientists discover Arctic Ocean acidifying up to four times the rate of other seas
Image via PXHere.
Bank

The acidification of the Arctic Ocean is occurring at quadruple the rate of Earth's other seas, according to a new study that was published in the journal Science and reported by The Guardian on Thursday.

Anthropomorphic climate change has disproportionately impacted the Arctic and Antarctic regions, which under normal conditions reflect solar radiation. This is a key tenet of the planet's self-cooling process, known as the albedo effect. But the accumulation of greenhouse gases like CO2, methane, and water vapor in the atmosphere – which are byproducts of burning carbon – has destabilized these processes.

"The ocean, which absorbs a third of all of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, has grown more acidic because of fossil fuel use. Rapid loss of sea ice in the Arctic region over the past three decades has accelerated the rate of long-term acidification," The Guardian noted. "Researchers from the Polar and Marine Research Institute at Jimei University, China, and the School of Marine Science and Policy at the University of Delaware in the US, say rapid sea-ice loss exposes seawater to the atmosphere, promoting takeup of carbon dioxide at a faster rate than in the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, Antarctic and sub-Antarctic basins."

READ MORE: Greenland's rapidly melting ice could raise sea levels one foot by 2050

Researchers expressed astonishment at the disruption rate, which underscores the fragility of Earth's systems.

“In other ocean systems, acidification is being driven by an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide, which is increasing at a rate of around 2ppm [parts per million] per year,” paper author Wei-Jun Cai, a marine chemistry expert at the University of Delaware, said. “We were shocked to see acidification is happening three to four times faster."

The consequences of continued acidification – which are exacerbated by melting sea ice – are profound. For example, the disappearance of glaciers reduces the salinity [salt content] of seawater, throwing currents that drive weather patterns out of balance. It also impedes "the buffering capacity of the water, its ability to resist acidification,” Cai said.

The survey's findings also have "huge implications" for marine life.

"In lower latitudes, you have coral reefs and if you add carbon dioxide to the water, the carbon saturation rate will increase and the coral won’t grow,” Cai explained, emphasizing that "we are far from knowing what the cost is for biological systems. We don’t know what organisms could be affected. This is something the biological community needs to look into.”

READ MORE: Russia is burning off natural gas as global temperatures soar and energy costs skyrocket: report

Understand the importance of honest news ?

So do we.

The past year has been the most arduous of our lives. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be catastrophic not only to our health - mental and physical - but also to the stability of millions of people. For all of us independent news organizations, it’s no exception.

We’ve covered everything thrown at us this past year and will continue to do so with your support. We’ve always understood the importance of calling out corruption, regardless of political affiliation.

We need your support in this difficult time. Every reader contribution, no matter the amount, makes a difference in allowing our newsroom to bring you the stories that matter, at a time when being informed is more important than ever. Invest with us.

Make a one-time contribution to Alternet All Access, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.

Click to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card
Donate by Paypal
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}
@2022 - AlterNet Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. - "Poynter" fonts provided by fontsempire.com.