Rising ocean acidity threatens sea life

October 31, 2014, University of Exeter
Rising ocean acidity threatens sea life
Research by Dr Ceri Lewis suggests the effects of acidification may be even more pervasive than previously estimated

Researchers in Exeter have found that sea creatures will be affected by rising ocean acidity.

Increasing levels of in our atmosphere are changing ocean chemistry, making seawater more acidic. This poses a potential threat to some sea life as it creates conditions for animals to take up more coastal pollutants like copper.

The research, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology found that lugworms, the favourite bait of anglers, suffer DNA damage as a result of copper from polluted sediments. The copper harms their sperm, and their mis-shapen babies live only a few days.

Dr Ceri Lewis from Biosciences said "It's a bit of a shock, frankly. It means the effects of ocean acidification may be even more serious than we previously thought. We need to look with new eyes at things which we thought were not vulnerable."

The UK's Chief Scientist, Professor Mark Walport, has warned that the oceans face a serious and growing risk from carbon emissions from mankind.

"Carbon dioxide from our cars, homes and factories has made seawater 25% more acidic.

"The changes represent a substantial risk to complex marine food webs and ecosystems. The current rate of is unprecedented within the last 65 million years."

Explore further: Marine bacteria unfazed by rising ocean acidification

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3 / 5 (4) Oct 31, 2014
I got tired of asking the Deniers about this.

What do they say now?
not rated yet Nov 13, 2014
It took a while to find the paper as it wasn't referenced in this article. The finding was that increased acidity of seawater increases the susceptibility of lugworms (Arenicola marina) to copper pollution.


The artificial seawater used, at pH 8.28, is quite a bit more basic than actual seawater (~8.1). Seawater can vary up to 0.3 pH naturally. Rapidly subjecting an organism to more acidic water at pH 7.77 and pH 7.47 for the experiment in no way simulates what's going on in the oceans. It would take many decades--likely centuries--for oceans to reach that level, not just a few hours. The change would be so gradual that presumably the organisms would adapt over hundreds or thousands of generations, but no one knows for sure because that's not how the experiment was performed.

Despite theoretical calculations of acidity from oceanic absorption of CO2, measured levels don't show any dramatic trend. Only computer models do.
1 / 5 (1) Nov 13, 2014
Just for fun, have a look at the measured rates of ocean "acidification" at the U.S. EPA's web page:


Extrapolating from current trends, it would take almost 300 years to get to pH 7.77 from pH 8.1. It would take over 500 years to get to pH 7.47. (And if we're starting from the incorrect baseline of pH 8.28, even longer.) That's a lot of time for organisms to adapt.

Again, nothing to worry about, unless you're basing assumptions on flawed computer generated climate models.
Nov 13, 2014
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