THE Arctic ecosystem, already under pressure from record ice melts, faces another potential threat in the form of rapid acidification of the ocean, according to an international study.
Acidification, blamed on the transformation of rising levels of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the air into carbonic acid in the sea, makes it harder for shellfish and crabs to grow their shells, and might also impair fish reproduction, it said.
Cold water absorbs carbon dioxide more readily than warm water, making the Arctic especially vulnerable. The report said the acidity of surface ocean waters worldwide was now 30 per cent higher than at the start of the Industrial Revolution.
“Ocean acidification is likely to affect the abundance, productivity and distribution of marine species, but the magnitude and direction of change are uncertain,” said the report by 60 experts for the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme, commissioned by the eight nations with Arctic territories.