Ocean Acidification: Global Warming’s Evil Twin
Richard A. Feely, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is one of the most important “green-house” gases in the atmosphere affecting the radiative heat balance of the earth. As a direct result of the industrial and agricultural activities of humans over the past two centuries, atmospheric CO2 concentrations have increased by about 100 ppm. The atmospheric concentration of CO2 is now higher than experienced on Earth for at least the last 800,000 years, and is expected to continue to rise, leading to significant temperature increases in the atmosphere and oceans by the end of this century. The global oceans are the largest natural long-term reservoir for this excess heat and CO2, absorbing approximately 85% of the heat and 30% of the anthropogenic carbon released into the atmosphere since the beginning of the industrial era. Recent studies have demonstrated that the increased concentrations of CO2 in the oceans are causing significant changes in ocean chemistry (i.e. ocean acidification) and marine ecosystems. Dr. Feely will discuss the present and future implications of increased CO2 levels on the health of our ocean ecosystems and related ocean-based economies.