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It will take more than seaweed to prevent ocean acidification

By Jason Hall-Spencer, 8th April 2015

Ocean acidification is causing biodiversity loss and altering ecosystems. There is currently much concern over how this will affect us and what can be done to lessen the effects of rising carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in our oceans. This past week, we published a study that explores the idea that photosynthetic organisms could be used to mitigate ocean acidification. We hoped that by taking CO2 out of the water, seaweed would help tiny calcified animals called Foraminifera to survive. Using a natural gradient caused by volcanic CO2 seeps, we were gutted to find out that the seaweed Padina pavonica didn’t save the little animals from being dissolved away in the corrosive waters.
Looking on the bright side, perhaps large seaweed farms or protected seagrass beds could help. This is important, even if you’ve never heard of Foraminifera, as we need little calcified organisms to survive if we want coral reefs to protect coasts from erosion or if we want to support sustainable clam and oyster production for food. For me, this study shows that there is still no getting away from the fact that the best thing to do about ocean acidification is to reduce human CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels as soon as possible. I hope that high-level climate negotiations in Paris this year are effective.

To read the full open-access article, click here.

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