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New evidence shows acid threat to marine life August 07,2012   |  Source: Today

Ocean acidification caused by climate change is making it harder for creatures such as clams and sea urchins to grow their shells, and the trend is likely to be felt most in the polar regions, scientists said yesterday.

A thinning of the protective cases of mussels, oysters, lobsters and crabs is likely to disrupt marine food chains by making the creatures more vulnerable to predators, which could reduce human sources of seafood.

"The results suggest that increased acidity is affecting the size and weight of shells and skeletons, and the trend is widespread across marine species," the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) said in a statement of the findings, which were published in the journal Global Change Biology.

Human emissions of greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels. Some of that carbon dioxide ends up in the oceans, where it dissolves to form acid.

The acidification makes it harder for creatures to extract calcium carbonate - vital to grow skeletons and shells - especially from cold waters in the Arctic Ocean and around the Antarctica, said the study by scientists in Britain, Australia and Singapore.

Changes under way in cold waters could be a sign of what to expect in future in temperate zones and the tropics, said the BAS.

The

 

© 2012 MediaCorp Press Ltd.

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