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Posted Tue Jan 31 2012: from ArsTechnica:
Ocean acidification already well beyond natural variability
Ocean acidification entails a decrease in the pH of ocean water as the carbonate that buffers it is consumed. That carbonate does more than just maintain pH, though. Lots of marine organisms, from plankton to mollusks to coral, use it to build shells and skeletons. As the buffer is depleted, the saturation state of carbonate minerals like calcite (and its polymorph aragonite) decreases, making it more difficult for organisms to incorporate them. In most areas of the surface ocean, calcite and aragonite are supersaturated, making it easy for organisms to build shells and skeletons. In undersaturated water, the equilibrium tilts the other way, and dissolution of these structures becomes possible.... In all areas where coral reefs are found (these are often described as the "rainforests of the sea" for their astonishing diversity and abundance of life), the researchers find that the current saturation state of aragonite is well below the pre-industrial average. To put it into concrete terms, they estimate that calcification rates of reef organisms have already dropped by about 15 percent. Under the A1B emissions scenario, calcification rates would decrease by a total of 40 percent (relative to pre-industrial) by 2100.
[Read more stories about: holyshit, ocean acidification, coral bleaching, carbon emissions, ecosystem interrelationships]

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