Acid oceans prompt new Monaco Declaration



Coral and fish

A delicate balance: rising acidity in our oceans is putting marine ecosystems at risk.

Credit: Wikimedia

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Increasing ocean acidity is rapidly damaging marine ecosystems, and urgent action is needed to limit its effects, according to the world's top ocean scientists.

More than 150 leading scientific experts expressed their concern by signing the Monaco Declaration, a document calling for global action and outlining the efforts needed, released last Friday.

The Declaration is based on results from the Second International Symposium on the Ocean in a High-CO2 World, held in Monaco last October, which emphasised the clear-cut ties between rising ocean acidity and rising carbon dioxide emissions.

"The ocean now absorbs about 30 per cent of the yearly emissions of carbon dioxide, which dissolves in water to form a weak acid that is increasing the acidity of the oceans...[and this] carbon dioxide uptake is occurring at a rate exceeding the natural buffering capacity of the ocean," explained Tasmanian oceanographer Will Howard, from the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre in Hobart.

As such, unlike global warming, which is an indirect effect of greenhouse emissions, "ocean acidification is a direct impact from rising atmospheric CO2 levels," said Ben McNeil, an Australian signatory of the Declaration from the Climate Change Research Centre, at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.

"[It] is yet another reason why it is in our best interests to stabilise atmospheric CO2 levels by rapidly cutting our...emissions over the coming decades," he said.

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