12 Oct 2015

Ocean acidification threatens Pacific's ecosystems

11:54 am on 12 October 2015

An American scientist says ocean acidification is likely to pose a further threat to the Pacific Ocean's ecosystems in coming decades.

Vanuatu lagoon, looking out to sea.

Acidification poses risk to oceans Photo: RNZI

Almost a quarter of carbon dioxide emissions are absorbed by the ocean, which causes water acidity to rise.

The director of a US-run Ocean Acidification Programme, Dr Elizabeth Jewett, says an increase in ocean acidity threatens marine life, coral reefs and local livelihoods in the Pacific.

Ms Jewett says there are ways to increase resiliency to ocean acidification, such as protecting coral reefs.

"Very specific approaches might include protecting and enhancing seagrass beds because seagrass actually improves the chemistry of the water, making it easier for coral reefs to grow."