Ocean Acidification Varies Widely Across Globe, New Study Shows

The deployment of sensors in 15 regions of the world’s oceans shows an extremely wide variation in how rapidly waters are becoming acidified, according to research conducted by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Scripps scientists have deployed more than 50 of the sensors, which measure pH and temperature in the top 230 feet of the ocean, as part of a continuing study to see how rising atmospheric CO2 levels are impacting the world’s oceans. Initial findings show great variation in ocean acidification. Around Antarctica and the Line Islands of the South Pacific, for example, there is limited variation in pH. But in regions where large upwellings bring CO2-laden water to the surface from the deep, such as off the coasts of California and the U.S. Pacific Northwest, the waters are more acidic. Indeed, in some regions, Scripps scientists measured levels of acidity that were not expected to be reached until the end of the century, according to the study, published in the journal PLoS One. Acidic waters can inhibit organisms, such as oysters and coral reefs, from forming shells. Scripps scientists said their long-term study will help document how marine organisms are responding to changes in ocean pH.