Ocean Acidity Sky-Rockets, 96% of Marine Life Went EXTINCT the Last Time This Happened

The Last Time Oceans Got This Acidic This Fast  Marine Life Went Extinct

The Last Time Oceans Got This Acidic This Fast, 96% of Marine Life Went Extinct

The biggest extinction event in planetary history was driven by the rapid acidification of our oceans, a new study concl​udes. So much carbon was released into the atmosphere, and the oceans absorbed so much of it so quickly, that marine life simply died off, from the bottom of the food chain up.

That doesn’t bode well for the present, given the disturbingly similar rate that our seas are acidifying right now. Parts of the Pacific, for instance, are already so acidic that sea snails’ shells begin dissolving as soon as they’re born.

The biggest die-off in history, the Permian Extinction event, aka the Great Dying, extinguished over 90 percent of the planet’s species—and 96 percent of marine species.

A lot of theories have been put forward about why and how, exactly, the vast majority of Earth life went belly up 252 million years ago, but the new study, published in Science, offers some compelling evidence acidification was a key driver.

A team led by University of Edinburgh researchers collected rocks in the United Arab Emirates that were on the seafloor hundreds of millions of years ago, and used the boron isotopes found within to model the changing levels of acidification in our prehistoric oceans. Through this “combined geochemical, geological, and modeling approach,” the scientists say, they were able to accurately model the series of “perturbations” that unfolded in the era.

They now believe that a series of gigantic volcanic eruptions in the Siberian Trap spewed a great fountain of carbon into the atmosphere over a period of tens of thousands of years. This was the first phase of the extinction event, in which terrestrial life began to die out.

The study explains that the second phase of the event happened much more quickly. “During the second extinction pulse, however, a rapid and large injection of carbon caused an abrupt acidification event that drove the preferential loss of heavily calcified marine biota,” the authors write.

So does this study mean we should be especially worried about the phenomenon taking hold today? 

“Yes,” said Dr. Rachel Wood, a professor of carbonate geoscience at the University of Edinburgh and one of the paper’s authors.

See also: Threat of Ocean Acidification to US Coasts

“We are concerned about modern ocean acidification,” she told me in an email. “Although the amount of carbon added to the atmosphere that triggered the mass extinction was probably greater than today’s fossil fuel reserves, the rate at which the carbon was released was at a rate similar to modern emissions.” 

In other words, the Siberian Traps probably spewed out more carbon in total, but we’re spewing out just as fast. And that’s overwhelming the planetary equilibrium.

“This fast rate of release was a critical factor driving ocean acidification,” Wood said.

Why?

“The rate of release is critical because the oceans absorb a lot of the carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, around 30 percent of the carbon dioxide released by humans,” Wood said. “To achieve chemical equilibrium, some of this CO2 reacts with the water to form carbonic acid. Some of these molecules react with a water molecule to give a bicarbonate ion and a hydronium ion, thus increasing ocean ‘acidity’ (H+ ion concentration).”

Marine animals whose skeletons are comprised of calcium carbonate—and that’s a lot of them (think snails, coral), which form a crucial part of the food chain—dissolved or couldn’t form in the first place. And that is what’s happening today.

“Between 1751 and 1994, surface ocean pH is estimated to have decreased from approximately 8.25 to 8.14, representing an increase of almost 30 percent in H+ ion concentration in the world’s oceans,” Wood said.

That’s a major uptick in ocean acidity in a relatively short amount of time, and it’s happening because humans have burned fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas with reckless abandon since the Industrial Revolution. That’s fueling climate change, of course, as well as its less-discussed, but potentially equally cataclysmic sibling, ocean acidification.

“Scientists have long suspected that an ocean acidification event occurred during the greatest mass extinction of all time, but direct evidence has been lacking until now,” study coordinator Dr. Matthew Clarkson said in a statement. “This is a worrying finding, considering that we can already see an increase in ocean acidity today that is the result of human carbon emissions.”

Much of marine life is already in grave danger from acidification. It’s contributing to the bleaching of coral reefs around the world, and, as mentioned before, it’s killing sea snails in the Pacific. If it worsens, acidification could threaten the whole of the marine biosphere, and, obviously, the land-dwelling creatures that depend on it too.

In 2013, marine scientists released a “State of the Oceans” report that found that the rate of current acidification was “unprecedented.” They noted that the seas were acidifying faster than any point in the last 300 million years. That study didn’t take into account the new data, of course, but that’s the timeline we’re dealing with: The last time the oceans were so acidic was in the midst of the greatest extinction in the history of the world.

Find us here

Get news from the CSGLOBE in your inbox each weekday morning

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors/source and do not necessarily reflect the position of CSGLOBE or its staff.

Paid content

China Is Turning The Rainforest Into Cheap Furniture For The U.S.

Driven by American demand for cheap furniture, China has become the greatest importer of illegal timber. The...

France Declares All New Rooftops Must Be Topped With Plants Or Solar Panels

A new law recently passed in France mandates that all new buildings that are built in commercial zones in France must be partially covered in...

Bill Gates Admits to Chemtrails

Bill Gates backs climate scientists lobbying for large-scale geoengineering ( Chemtrails ) Geo-engineers are finally coming out of the “chemtrail” closet, as reports are now...

What's New Today

Georgia House Votes To Allow Citizens To Abolish Police Departments In The State

The Georgia House backed an effort on Friday to dissolve the Glynn County Police Department and any...

Leaked CDC document contradicts Pence claim that U.S. coronavirus cases ‘have stabilized’

Even as Vice President Mike Pence wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published Tuesday that coronavirus...

Five bombshells about Trump from Bolton ‘s book

Excerpts from former national security adviser John Bolton ’s book about his time in the Trump administration...

Don’t Listen to Fox. Here’s What’s Really Going On in Seattle’s Protest Zone.

It seems I live in a city undergoing a “totalitarian takeover” that will lead to “fascist outcomes”...

MOST READ

What Is Agenda 21? Depopulation of 95% of the World By 2030

Most people are unaware that one of the greatest threats to their freedom may be a United Nations program which plans to depopulate 95%...

Alien Base for Giants Discovered in the Bucegi Mountains

In the summer of 2003, in an unexplored area of the Bucegi Mountains, a team from Zero Department (a top secret section of the...

Putin has Banned Rothschild and His New World Order Banking Cartel Family from Entering Russian Territory

As of recently, Russian president Vladimir Putin took yet another decision for his country. "Under any circumstances", the Rothschild family is banned from entering Russian territory. Along...

China Is Turning The Rainforest Into Cheap Furniture For The U.S.

Driven by American demand for cheap furniture, China has become the greatest importer of illegal timber. The...

Planet Earth Soon To Be Inhospitable

Planet Earth is halfway to being inhospitable to life, scientist says A Swedish scientist claims in a new theory that humanity has exceeded four of...

Beautiful Crater Lakes Around The World

8 Of The Most Beautiful Crater Lakes Around The World A few different things can cause the formation of a crater lake including, a meteorite...

The ‘alien life’ deep underneath us: Researchers find first evidence of life in Earth’s mantle under the Atlantic Ocean

Rock samples from an underwater mountain in the Atlantic Ocean could help to explain how early life formed on Earth, or on other planets. In...

World’s Saddest Polar Bear – Dies After 22 Years In Concrete Cage

On July 3, 2016, a polar bear named Arturo died in Argentina due to “complications from old age.” Located at the Mendoza Zoological Park in...

The Simpsons Just Took Down Trump In The Best Way [Watch]

There are a number of reasons Donald Trump shouldn’t be president, and among them is the fact that he’s racist, narcissistic, knows nothing about...

Big Brother Strikes Again: Fake Cell Phone Towers

Fake cell phone ‘towers’ may be spying on Americans’ calls, texts More than a dozen “fake cell phone towers” could be secretly hijacking Americans’ mobile...

Farmer Charged, Fined $2.8 Million, For Plowing His Own Property

The US Army Corps of Engineers and state authorities are seeking almost $3 million in fines from a California farmer because residue from plowing...