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article imageLevels of ocean acidity affects global warming

By Tim Sandle     Aug 31, 2013 in Environment
Scientists have warned that continued acidification of the oceans may lead to lower sulfur levels in the atmosphere, worsening the effects of climate change.
The link between rising levels of acidity in the world's seas and the climate comes from increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which leads to ocean acidification. This is formed as the greenhouse gas interacts with water to form carbonic acid in the ocean. In turn, ocean acidification appears to lead to decreased cloud formation and therefore worsening global warming over time.
This is all linked to the ecological process whereby sulfuric acid seeds cloud formation. The majority of sulfur in the atmosphere is emitted from the ocean, often in the form of dimethylsulfide (DMS) produced by phytoplankton. The problem is that in acidified ocean water, phytoplankton produce less DMS, leading to fewer clouds. Fewer clouds could lead to increased global temperatures.
Astrid Wittmann, a coauthor of the study, from the Alfred Wegener Institute, said in a press release: "Our study showed that all animal groups we considered are affected negatively by higher carbon dioxide concentrations. Corals, echinoderms, and mollusks above all react very sensitively to a decline in the pH value."
The theory has been out forward in the journal Nature Climate Change. The paper is titled "Global warming amplified by reduced sulphur fluxes as a result of ocean acidification."
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