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Featured Science Paper

Extensive dissolution of live pteropods in the Southern Ocean

This paper reports that marine snails – known as pteropods – living in the seas around Antarctica are being dissolved by ocean acidification. The study used a methodology developed in BAS to classify the damage to pteropod shells and examined this is relation to ocean pH. It discovered severe dissolution of the shells of living pteropods in an area of upwelling. Upwelled water is usually more corrosive to a particular type of calcium carbonate (aragonite) that pteropods use to build their shells, and as a result of the additional influence of ocean acidification, this corrosive water severely dissolved the shells of pteropods.

This first observation of acidification effects on pelagic organisms in polar waters supports predictions that the impact of ocean acidification on marine ecosystems and food webs may be significant. The paper has generated a lot of interest and with the UK ocean acidification cruise currently in the Southern Ocean it will be an influential study that has opened up an important set of research avenues.

Link to the full paper in the NERC Open Research Archive


N. Bednarsek, G. A. Tarling, D. C. E. Bakker, S. Fielding, E. M. Jones, H. J. Venables, P. Ward, A. Kuzirian, B. Leze, R. A. Feely & E. J. Murphy


Nature Geoscience, doi:10.1038/ngeo1635 2012