Waters off the California coast are acidifying twice as fast as the global average, scientists found, threatening major fisheries and sounding the alarm that the ocean can absorb only so much more of the world’s carbon emissions.
A new study led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also made an unexpected connection between acidification and a climate cycle known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation — the same shifting forces that other scientists say have a played a big role in the higher and faster rates of sea level rise hitting California in recent years.
El Niño and La Niña cycles, researchers found, also add stress to these extreme changes in the ocean’s chemistry.
These findings come at a time when record amounts of emissions have already exacerbated the stress on the marine environment. When carbon dioxide mixes with seawater, it undergoes chemical reactions that increase the water’s acidity.
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