Greenhouse Gas Causing Ocean ‘Tooth Decay’
Rising amounts of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) from the burning of fossil fuels are having a catastrophic, decaying effect on some marine life, according to new research.
Scientists from Scotland’s University of St. Andrews say increased acidity in the oceans due to more CO2 in the air is causing something comparable to tooth decay for tiny organisms known as foraminifera, or forams.
They are single-celled creatures that build elaborate shells to protect themselves.
The drop in ocean pH due to the greenhouse gas is reducing the number and sizes of these shells, with many becoming deformed. This makes it far more difficult for the creatures to feed.
And since they are at the base of the ocean food chain, scientists fear losses in the foram population could affect far larger marine life.
“The threat of future acidification is very real, and comes at a time when the human population depends more than ever on a healthy and productive marine environment,” said St. Andrews researcher David Patterson.
It’s feared that the greater ocean acidity could also soon affect shellfish, coral and other creatures.