Environmental News from the US: New research warns pressures of rising heat and loss of oxygen reminiscent of ‘great dying’ that occurred about 250m years ago.
Global heating is causing such a drastic change to the world’s oceans that it risks a mass extinction event of marine species that rivals anything that’s happened in the Earth’s history over tens of millions of years, new research has warned.
According to the study, accelerating climate change is causing a “profound” impact upon ocean ecosystems that is “driving extinction risk higher and marine biological richness lower than has been seen in Earth’s history for the past tens of millions of years.”
The world’s seawater is steadily climbing in temperature due to the extra heat produced from the burning of fossil fuels, while oxygen levels in the ocean are plunging, and the water is acidifying from the soaking up of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
This means the oceans are overheated, increasingly gasping for breath – the volume of ocean waters completely depleted of oxygen has quadrupled since the 1960s – and becoming more hostile to life. Aquatic creatures such as clams, mussels, and shrimp are unable to properly form shells due to the acidification of seawater.
All of this means the planet could slip into a “mass extinction rivaling those in Earth’s past,” states the new research published in Science. The pressures of rising heat and loss of oxygen are, researchers said, uncomfortably reminiscent of the mass extinction event that occurred at the end of the Permian period about 250m years ago. This cataclysm, known as the “great dying,” led to the demise of up to 96% of the planet’s marine animals.
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Source: The Guardian