Ocean acidification could have devastating effects on both underwater and terrestrial life, as it will significantly alter phytoplankton.
Due to the fact that the world’s oceans have been absorbing the CO2 released on land by man made machinery, the pH has been dropping lower and lower along the years. It has reached a pH of 8.1 at the moment from the 8.2 pH which used to be the average.
While this might not seem like a sizable difference, it matters quite a lot to the minute species that inhabit the world’s waters. And unfortunately, according to recent research on the matter, the levels will reach devastating levels that will be as low as 7.8 by the year 2100, in the event that significant changes are not made.
This was the desolating conclusion relayed by a research project conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of Alabama. The scientists explained that this extreme plummet in pH levels will also affect humans because they have a crucial role in synthesizing oxygen for the entire planet.
In a more acidic environment, the plankton will be extensively modified, as some species “will die out, while others will flourish”, pointed out an MIT report. And due to this change, the levels of dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DSMP), the most important metabolite produce by the plankton because it has an important role in keeping temperatures down, will drop.Thus, temperatures will go even higher than anticipated because of this change.
“The fact that there are so many different possible changes, that different phytoplankton respond differently, means there might be some quite traumatic changes in the communities over the course of the 21st century.” said research scientist Stephanie Dutkiewicz of the Center for Global Change Science from MIT.
There is significant data provided by previous studies that links the alteration of aquatic micro-life to significant effects on climate change, but the MIT-University of Alabama takes a more extensive look at how various climate change factors will affect the planet on a long run. And ocean acidification was one of the most significant of these factors, precisely because it cause changes that go very far along the chain of life.
By altering phytoplankton physiology, the entire aquatic food chain suffers greatly. And since these small creatures have such an important effect in breaking down carbon dioxide, the entire carbon cycle will go through great changes.
Image Source: marinephytoplankton