A study by UC Merced marine biologist Michael Beman shows the prolonged, extensive emission of greenhouse gases over the next several decades could have significant impacts on ocean life.
Increases in carbon dioxide emissions — exacerbated by the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities — are making ocean water more acidic, and Beman’s study shows that the increased acidity will fundamentally alter the way nitrogen cycles throughout the sea.
Because nitrogen is an important nutrient for all organisms, this could ultimately have significant impacts for all forms of marine life.
“There is growing concern about this issue because human activities are modifying ocean pH so rapidly,” Beman said. “While we do not know what the full effects of changing the nitrogen cycle will be, we performed experiments all over the world and believe that these changes will be global in extent.”
Beman’s study — funded by the National Science Foundation and co-authored by a team of researchers from the University of Hawaii, University of Southern California and the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences — will be published this week in the prestigious journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Beman conducted the studies while at the University of Hawaii, before coming to UC Merced in 2009.
4 years ago