Ocean Acidification Could Amplify Global Warming, Study Says

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The increasing acidification of the world’s oceans caused by rising concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide not only poses a threat to marine creatures, but also could lead to an intensification of planetary warming, according to a new study.

A team of U.S., British, and German researchers conducted experiments in seawater enclosures, known as mesocosms, showing that the increasing acidification of the ocean leads to a drop in production of an important sulfur compound, dimethylsulphide, or DMS.

Marine emissions of DMS are the largest natural source of atmospheric sulfur, and those sulfur aerosols play an important role in reflecting the sun’s energy back into space and cooling the planet.

Reporting in the journal Nature Climate Change, the scientists found that when they created acidic conditions in the seawater enclosures that match pH levels expected in 2100, emissions of DMS fell by roughly 18 percent.

The scientists said that their study was the first to prove the link between rising ocean acidification and the potential decrease in planet-cooling sulfur dioxide aerosols.

Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.

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Yale Environment 360 is an online magazine offering opinion, analysis, reporting and debate on global environmental issues. We feature original articles by scientists, journalists, environmentalists, academics, policy makers, and business people, as well as multimedia content and a daily digest of major environmental news. Yale Environment 360 is published by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Yale University. We are funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The opinions and views expressed in Yale Environment 360 are those of the authors and not of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies or of Yale University.