"If forams and other shell makers are not making shells, that might change the transfer of carbon from the surface ocean into the deep ocean," said Howard.
"It changes the efficiency of the biological pump, and would tend to lessen the degree to which the ocean takes up carbon. That's a feedback that we have to be concerned about," he said in a phone interview.
Only in the last five years have scientists become aware of the extent of ocean acidification and its potential to disrupt Earth's carbon cycle, which balances the absorption and release of CO2 into the atmospshere.
"The problem with this impact is that it is so persistent and so long-lived, unlike other pollution carbons. We will have a harder time turning this impact around," Howard said.
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