Scientists Link Arctic Ocean’s Rising Acidity Level to Climate Change
The Arctic Ocean’s acidity level is rising at an alarming rate due to changes in the global carbon cycle. Scientists with the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme in Oslo, Norway are concerned about the amount of carbon dioxide emissions pumped into the air by humans which then changes the chemistry of the Arctic Ocean.
Ocean waters worldwide have had a 30% increase in acidity over the past 200 years. However, the pH levels are so high in the Arctic that scientists say it would take tens of thousands of years to get them down to where they were before the Industrial Revolution around 250 years ago.
Climate change has been debated for years but scientists have proof that the ice is melting at a faster rate than ever before. What used to be solid ice during the summer is now broken up into chunks surrounded by fresh water.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) used three different models to predict when the Arctic Ocean would be ice-free in the summer. Each model came up with a date before the middle of this century.
One model looked at past sea ice trends to estimate 2020 as being the year the Arctic would be practically ice free. The second model used big sea ice melting events, such as the events in 2007 and 2012, to calculate 2030. The third used global climate data to measure Arctic warming. This model put sea ice loss at 2060.
Per Oslo’s Center for International Climate and Environmental Research, the steady rise of fresh water flowing into the Arctic makes it become increasingly difficult to neutralize the growing pH levels.
According to scientists with NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL), this increased acidity will affect marine life and humans. For example, a change in the water’s chemistry will have an impact on the species currently living there. If one species dies out, then that sets off a chain reaction. Animals native to the Arctic are harp seals, polar bears, beluga, Pacific walrus, Northern bottlenose whale, and killer whales. In addition, there are many species of fish including halibut, cod, salmon, and shark. If the fish die, there will be less opportunity for commercial fisheries as well as for indigenous people.
These effects will also cause tourism to decline. People travel to the Arctic Ocean to see the native marine life. As Professor Rashid Sumaila of the Fisheries Economics Research Unit, University of Columbia, put it, “If there are no animals to see, nobody will come.”
Written by: Cynthia Collins
Source: Google News