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Report: Ocean acidification rising at unprecedented rate

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The report says that oceans are 30 percent more acidic than they were 200 years ago.With the oceans absorbing more than 1 million tons of carbon dioxide an hour, a National Research Council study released Thursday found that the level of acid in the oceans is increasing at an unprecedented rate and threatening to change marine ecosystems.

The council said the oceans were 30 percent more acidic than they were before the Industrial Revolution started roughly 200 years ago, and the oceans absorb one-third of today's carbon dioxide emissions.

Unless emissions are reined in, ocean acidity could increase by 200 percent by the end of the century and even more in the next century, said James Barry, a senior scientist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California and one of the study's authors.

"Acidification is changing the chemistry of the oceans at a scale and magnitude greater than thought to occur on Earth for many millions of years and is expected to cause changes in the growth and survival of a wide variety of marine organisms, potentially leading to massive shifts in ocean ecosystems," Barry told the Senate Commerce Committee's Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard Subcommittee on Thursday.


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