New pollution study warns of drastic change to ocean food chain

The latest study into carbon dioxide emissions, and the changes in the world’s oceans that they cause, suggests that pollution could drastically transform the entire ocean food chain.

The ocean absorbs about a third of the carbon dioxide emissions generated by human activity. The result is acidification which, according the study by scientists in the US, affects phytoplankton, the photosynthesizing microbes that live in the upper layers of the world's oceans and lakes. Phytoplankton are eaten by krill, tiny crustaceans that are, in turn, food for fish, seals, and even whales. If some forms of phytoplankton grow at different rates because they are affected by acidification then this will have a knock on effect for many marine species further up the food chain.

WDC recently attended a meeting on the issue of ocean acidification at the Royal Society in London where the results of the last ten years of the UK and international oceanacidifcation programme were discussed.