CO2 Emissions Causing 'Unprecedented' Ocean Acidification

The rate at which the world’s oceans are acidifying is “unprecedented,” scientists warn in a new report.

The rate may be faster than at any time in the last 300 million years, they say.

The report, which will be launched Monday at the UN climate talks in Warsaw, is based on research presented by over 500 international experts on ocean acidification who convened at The Third Symposium on the Ocean in a High CO2 World in September 2012.

According to their summary of findings, human-caused CO2 emissions have already caused a 26 percent-increase in ocean acidification since the start of the Industrial Revolution. If current rates of CO2 emissions continue, the report projects a 170 percent-increase in acidity levels by 2100.

The report states that “The most comparable event 55 million years ago was linked to mass extinctions of calcareous deep-sea organisms and significant changes to the surface ocean ecosystem. At that time, though the rate of change of ocean pH was rapid, it may have been 10 times slower than current change.”

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