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The latest frightening corollary of global warming is a surge in the world’s jellyfish population. This development may set off an accelerating cycle of ocean acidification, according to new research from Rob Condon of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.When jellyfish die, they break down in a high-level carbon form that cannot be digested by bacteria. Instead it is exuded as carbon dioxide.
Meanwhile jellyfish devour huge quantities of plankton, thus depriving small fish of food and screwing up the entire food chain.
The Guardian reports:
Dr Carol Turley, a scientist at Plymouth University’s Marine Laboratory, said the research highlighted the growing problem of ocean acidification, the so-called “evil twin” of global warming. “Oceans have been taking up 25% of the carbon dioxide that man has produced over the last 200 years, so it’s been acting as a buffer for climate change. When you add more carbon dioxide to sea water it becomes more acidic. And already that is happening at a rate that hasn’t occurred in 600 million years. The acidification of the oceans is already predicted to have such a corrosive effect that unprotected shellfish will dissolve by the middle of the century.”
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