“Our oceans are getting more acidic, and it’s having big effects on some very small animals—with worrying implications.
Ocean acidification, a result of excess carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, can disrupt plankton blooms, according to new research published in Nature Geosciences. It’s a troubling finding, scientists say, because those blooms are helping mitigate some of the effects of carbon dioxide pollution.
The plankton in question are coccolithophores, single-celled organisms smaller than the pixels on your monitor that make their energy with photosynthesis. Coccolithophores are known for their scaly armor of round calcium carbonate plates, the stuff of sea shells. They produce about half of all the calcium carbonate in the oceans.
Calcium carbonate, as the name suggests, is part carbon. Animals like coccolithophores get that carbon by ingesting carbon dioxide, which dissolves from the atmosphere into seawater. That’s where ocean acidification enters the story.”