USGS to study arctic water acidification

Aug. 11, 2011 at 8:30 AM
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., Aug. 11 (UPI) -- U.S. geologists said they're starting on a research cruise to the Arctic Ocean to survey how absorption of greenhouse gases affects the ecosystem.

Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of South Florida are to sail to the Arctic Ocean next week to collect deep-water samples to determine levels of ocean acidification.

Ocean waters get more acidic as they absorb greater amounts of carbon dioxide. More acidic waters mean organisms like shrimp and coral have a harder time building outer shells. This can affect the oceanic food chain.

Lisa Robbins, an oceanographer with the USGS, said the seven-week research project should give scientists a better understanding of the climatic affects of greenhouse gases.

"The Arctic Ocean is one of the most vulnerable areas for ocean acidification on our planet but there (are) very little data and understanding about current acidification trends and potential impacts to oceanic food chains in the region," she said.

Scientists last year spent five weeks taking water samples in the Arctic Ocean. Data from the more than 25,000 samples taken are being analyzed for a publication this year.

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