Mollusk shells become smaller in size with an increase in the acidity of ocean waters, and this could lead to the extinction of many species, the base of the food chain, resulting in chain may change significantly, according to a statement on the website of British National Centre for Antarctic Studies (British Antarctic Survey — BAS) .
The research is published in the journal Global Change Biology.
Scientists have proved that the ocean absorbs excess atmospheric carbon dioxide, which is then transformed into carbonic acid and gradually neutralized. However, if the ocean water in a short time falls too much carbon dioxide, acid-base balance is disturbed. Over the past 100 years, according to researchers, human impact has reduced alkaline balance of the ocean by 0.1 units is predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), by 2100, will fall even pH of 0.2 units.
Scientists from the BAS and the National Oceanography Centre (National Oceanography Centre — NOC) together with Australian colleagues investigated how increasing acidity of water affects the formation of a sea shell. To do this, they have learned all kinds of mollusks in 12 marine ecosystems from the tropics to the polar regions. Shellfish to build shells and skeletons of calcium carbonate is used, which is consumed from the water. How well is this process depends on the temperature, salinity and pressure.
The study authors found that the increase in acidity can not get enough of shellfish calcium carbonate, especially in the early stages of the development of the body, causing the shell obtained thinner and smaller. As a result, these organisms may be too susceptible to external influences, such as the friction of the ice, and disappear. Following their disappearance, as scientists predict, "falter" in the ocean food chain, since they are based on these organisms.
However, scientists believe that there is another option: if the process of increasing the acidity will proceed smoothly, the clams will have time to adapt to the changing environment.
"This effect is most pronounced at low temperatures, resulting in polar molluscs" under attack ": there is a risk that in the coming decades, the climate change in the polar regions stronger, they will face the threat of extinction — for example, they will push floating ice in Antarctica. But if the acidity of water will gradually increase and shellfish in the temperate latitudes will have time to adapt and evolve — then there is a chance it will not turn into a disaster, "- said the head of research, employee BAS, Professor Lloyd Peck (Lloyd Peck), whose words are given in the message.