Researchers Find Underwater Lost World


Last week 19 top U.S. and European climate scientists released a report saying humans are responsible for warming the tropical Atlantic and Pacific oceans where hurricanes form, making for stronger storms.

In July, a panel of U.S. government researchers said that the ocean is becoming more acidic as it absorbs carbon dioxide released by cars, factories, and power plants. The increased acidity can dissolve the calcium exoskeletons of tiny coral and plankton, which experts say could substantially alter undersea life by eliminating a vital link in the food chain.

Higher water temperatures are also causing widespread coral "bleaching" around the world, from Australia's Great Barrier Reef to the Caribbean, which in 2005 suffered the worst bleaching ever recorded. The elevated temperatures can eventually kill the coral and in turn eliminate habitat for a variety of sea creatures.

In the Bering Sea, scientists reported earlier this year that warming ocean temperatures are forcing animals like walrus and gray whales further north in search of food.

In 2005, climate researchers at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography reported that 84 percent of total heating of the Earth system over the past four decades had gone into the oceans.

With statistics like that in mind, research teams said they will soon be back to the Bird's Head Seascape, racing to study and protect this underwater "lost world" before it disappears.

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