The oceans are becoming acidic faster and to a greater extent than expected, according to research carried out by scientists at Utrecht university with their international colleagues.
The scientists looked back 53 million years by taking samples from the ocean floor. These show there were periods of acidification caused by natural occurrences, such as volcanic eruptions. However, these increases in CO2 emissions were compensated for by nature.
The results, published on Thursday in the magazine Nature, show that CO2 emissions are now rising so rapidly that acidification is greater and quicker than expected. ‘The speed is so great that nature cannot cope,’ say the scientists.
‘We have no idea how acidic the oceans will become,’ says paleo-oceanographer Appy Sluijs in the magazine. ‘That depends on CO2 emissions in the future.’