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Arctic faces growing threat of acidification

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 26 July 2010

The icy Arctic waters around Norway’s archipelago of Svalbard may seem pristine and clear, but like the rest of the world’s oceans, they are facing the threat of growing acidity.

The European Centre for Arctic Environmental Research in Ny-Ålesund

Oceans have always absorbed part of the carbon dioxide, or CO2, present in the air, which in turn makes them acid. But with CO2 levels soaring, the scientific community is getting worried about acidification harming marine life.

Off the coast of Ny-Aalesund, a tiny coalmine village turned scientific outpost just 1 200km from the North Pole, researchers from nine European countries conducted in July an unprecedented effort to analyse the phenomenon.

To do so, they submerged nine tubes, each weighing two tonnes and the height of two double-decker busses, in the icy waters of the remote fjord framed by snow-capped mountains.

They then injected the watertight tubes, called mesocosms, with CO2, to reproduce sea life under different acidity levels expected from now until 2150 with the aim of studying the potentially disastrous effects of acidification on marine life.

“It’s here in the Arctic that the ocean will become corrosive the fastest,” Jean-Pierre Gattuso, with France’s National Centre for Scientific Research, said, explaining why the researchers chose to turn these waters thick with icy slush into a laboratory. Continue reading Arctic faces growing threat of acidification