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Penciling-in the future

Penciling-in the future

Postdoctoral researcher Justin Ries, working with Anne Cohen and Dan McCorkle in the WHOI Geology and Geophysics Department, grew this tropical pencil urchin (Eucidaris tribuloides) and other marine shell-building animals for months in tanks under atmospheres containing high carbon dioxide levels. More carbon dioxide generates greater acidity in the water, which can corrode calcium carbonate, the material many marine animals use for their shells. Ries (now at the University of North Carolina) wanted to test the animals' ability to build their shells under the increasingly high levels of carbon dioxide predicted for the future, if fossil fuel reserves continue to be burned and the resulting CO2 released. (Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)


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