Feeds

Acid oceans DISSOLVING sea life

British Antarctic Survey says CO2 the villain behind bad news for tiny snails

Top three mobile application threats

The shells of tiny sea snails called pteropods, or “sea butterflies”, are dissolving thanks to the acidification of sea water brought about to increasing levels of CO2 in the ocean, according to researchers from the British Antarctic Survey BAS).

A letter in Nature Geoscience titled Extensive dissolution of live pteropods in the Southern Ocean details the research, which according to BAS saw researchers examine “... an area of upwelling, where winds cause cold water to be pushed upwards from the deep to the surface of the ocean.” Such areas are of interest because their waters are “... usually more corrosive to a particular type of calcium carbonate (aragonite) that pteropods use to build their shells.”

A “saturation horizon” of 1000 metres is usually the depth at which ocean water becomes sufficiently corrosive to damage pteropod shells, but the sample taken by researchers came from just 200 metres down reached the same level of acidity.

BAS says “as a result of the additional influence of ocean acidification, this corrosive water severely dissolved the shells of pteropods.”

The paper and BAS go on to point the finger at anthropogenic CO2 as the reason for the extra acidity at 200 metres down.

BAS science cruise leader and a co-author of the paper, Dr Geraint Tarling, says “upwelling sites are natural phenomena that occur throughout the Southern Ocean” but adds his belief that “instances where they bring the ‘saturation horizon’ above 200m will become more frequent as ocean acidification intensifies in the coming years.”

Quite how he can make that prediction isn't made clear, but another co-author, The University of East Anglia's Dr Dorothee Bakker, says “Climate models project a continued intensification in Southern Ocean winds throughout the 21st century if atmospheric carbon dioxide continues to increase. In turn, this will increase wind-driven upwelling and potentially make instances of deep water — which is under-saturated in aragonite – penetrating into the upper ocean more frequent.” That could mean the saturation horizon rising even further in the future.

If that comes to pass, it's potentially bad news for pteropods and the other creatures that depend on their niche in the food chain. Of course there's plenty of room in what's been revealed about this study for sceptics to work with, too. A single upwelling does not a global threat make, and we all know how contentious climate models are. ®

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
KILLER ROBOTS, DNA TAMPERING and PEEPING CYBORGS: the future looks bright!
Americans optimistic about technology despite being afraid of EVERYTHING
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Liftoff! SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts Dragon on third resupply mission to ISS
SpaceX snaps smartly into one-second launch window
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.