13 Oct 2010:
Antarctic Krill Embryos
Severely Affected by Ocean Acidification
Antarctic krill, the key link in the food chain of the Southern Ocean, could face a grave threat
should ocean acidification reach high levels in the future, according to a study by the Australian Antarctic Division. Scientists discovered that krill embryos failed to hatch when concentrations of CO2 in seawater reached 2,000 parts per million (ppm), about five times current levels. The world’s oceans are becoming
increasingly acidic as human activity pours CO2 into the atmosphere, which is then absorbed by seawater. The Southern Ocean, which surrounds Antarctica, is expected to be severely affected by acidification because cold water more readily takes up CO2. Acidic seawater inhibits the formation of shells of the shrimp-like krill, and Australian scientists discovered that while acidification at current levels (380 ppm) and moderate levels (1,000 ppm) did not adversely affect krill embryos, none of the embryos in an experimental tank survived when concentrations reached 2,000 ppm. CO2 concentrations increase in deeper waters, and carbon dioxide levels at depth could rise to 1,400 ppm by 2100. Antarctic krill are the most important food for the hundreds of millions of penguins, seabirds, seals, and whales that live and breed in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.
Yale Environment 360 is
a publication of the
Yale School of Forestry
& Environmental Studies
Yale Environment 360
articles are now available in Spanish and Portuguese on Universia
, the online educational network. Visit the site.
Business & Innovation
Policy & Politics
Pollution & Health
Science & Technology
Antarctica and the Arctic
Central & South America
Tribal people and ranchers join together to stop a project that would haul coal across their Montana land. Watch the video.
is now available for mobile devices at e360.yale.edu/mobile
A, aerial view of why Europe’s per capita carbon emissions are less than 50 percent of those in the U.S. View the photos.
The 2015 Yale e360 Video Contest winner documents a Northeastern town's bitter battle over a wind farm. Watch the video.
video series looks at the staggering amount of food wasted in the U.S. – a problem with major human and environmental costs. Watch the video.
video goes onto the front lines with Colorado firefighters confronting deadly blazes fueled by a hotter, drier climate. Watch the video.
A three-part series Tainted Harvest
looks at the soil pollution crisis in China, the threat it poses to the food supply, and the complexity of any cleanup. Read the series.