Ocean acidification harms the entire ecosystem

Acidification of the seas only creates losers

From the tropical seas to the Arctic Ocean: The increasing acidification of the oceans will have enormous negative impacts on marine ecosystems. A new study shows that marine management should not focus on the big picture, the researchers said

Scientists have simulated three possible future scenarios and investigated how they could evolve in fifty years. The result was clear: while the other two scenarios had both positive and negative impacts on ecosystems, acidification of the oceans had a huge negative impact.

Global Impact
Researchers at the IMR in Norway, together with colleagues from the US, France and Australia, have been working on the new study recently published in the international journal Frontiers in Marine Science.

The team studied eight marine ecosystems stretching from the tropics to the Barents Sea. They used ecosystem models to see what effects the following scenarios would have:

- Increasing acidification of the oceans - an effect of climate change
- Enlargement of marine protected areas
- Changes in the fishery

Marine ecosystems are stable
The most important conclusion is positive: the marine ecosystems are quite stable, even though they have to withstand heavy loads. "That means they will not collapse," said Research Director Erik Olsen of the IMR. "But the increasing acidification of the oceans is the scenario that has the biggest impact on the three scenarios we tested."

The acidification of the oceans happens when large parts of the CO2 dissolve in the waters and turn into acid. More carbonic acid in the ocean leads to a lower pH.
A more acidic ocean can have serious consequences for marine life, especially for organisms that form shells or skeletons from lime.

Ocean acidification only creates losers
The study also shows that the protection of the oceans or changes in the fishery has some positive effects on some specifics and negative impacts on other species - a mixed result.

"But in the acidification of the oceans, we have seen that it has a major impact on all parts of marine ecosystems, and in a massively negative way," says Olsen.

Politicians make big decisions about the management of the oceans, mostly based on scientific evidence. It is equally important for politics and science to consider the entire ecosystem as a whole, according to Olsen, because it affects the entire ecosystem.

More information: https://www.hi.no