Ocean acidification is expected to triple by the end of the century, which could have serious consequences for marine species like fleshy seaweeds. Swedish marine scientists conducted an experiment to study how fleshy seaweeds would be affected by increased acidification. They found that the acidification impacted the seaweed’s chemical balance, weakened its structure and tissues, and reduced its chances of survival. Climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide, are causing unprecedented changes in ecosystems. About a third of the CO2 is absorbed by the ocean, which has significant effects on seaweeds. The scientists grew a common brown fleshy seaweed, Fucus vesiculosus, in water with dissolved CO2 levels mimicking those expected by the end of the century. They observed the seaweed’s growth, structure, photosynthesis, chemical composition, and strength. The acidified seaweed grew more and demonstrated effective photosynthesis but had weaker structure, less dense tissues, and lower nutrient levels. It broke more easily and died more often. These effects could lead to a decrease in seaweed coverage and have negative consequences for organisms dependent on these habitats. More research is needed to understand if all fleshy seaweeds are similarly affected by acidification. The researchers emphasize that ocean acidification could have critical effects on coastal ecosystems if it affects all brown seaweeds, as they are widely distributed along coastlines worldwide.

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