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Acidified seawater showing up along coast ahead of schedule
Climate models predicted it wouldn't happen until the end of the century.
So a team led by Seattle researchers was stunned to discover that vast swaths of acidified seawater already are showing up along the Pacific Coast as greenhouse-gas emissions upset the oceans' chemical balance.
In surveys from Vancouver Island to the tip of Baja California, reported Thursday in the online journal Science Express, the scientists found the first evidence that large amounts of corrosive water are reaching the continental shelf — the shallow sea margin where most marine creatures live.
"What we found ... was truly astonishing," said oceanographer Richard Feely, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle...
All along the coast, the scientists found regions where the water was acidic enough to dissolve the shells and skeletons of clams, corals and many of the tiny creatures at the base of the marine food chain. Acidified water also can kill fish eggs and a wide range of marine larvae.
"Entire marine ecosystems are likely to be affected," said co-author Debby Ianson, an oceanographer at Fisheries and Oceans Canada.