Ocean acidification

Bivalve molluscs such as the fan mussel are struggling to form shells, which protect them from predation

Ocean acidification facts

  • The rate at which our oceans absorb carbon dioxide is currently 100 times faster than it has been for millions of years.
  • 22 million tonnes of carbon dioxide are released by human industrial activity each day, and a quarter of it is absorbed into the ocean. The annual carbon dioxide emissions are thought to be around six billion metric tonnes.
  • Cold water absorbs larger quantities of carbon dioxide than warm water, and some areas of the polar seas are already so acidic that the water slowly dissolves the shells of molluscs and other shell-forming organisms.