How does rising atmospheric CO2 affect marine organisms?

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Rising CO2 Affects Ocean Carbon Pumps
Wolf-Gladrow, D.A., Riebesell, U., Burkhardt, S. and Bijma, J.  1999.  Direct effects of CO2 concentration on growth and isotopic composition of marine plankton.  Tellus 51B: 461-476.

What was done
The authors review the status of our knowledge relative to the direct effects of atmospheric CO2 enrichment on the marine biota and the consequences of these phenomena for the three major "carbon pumps" of the world's oceans.

What was learned
The authors' study of the subject led them to conclude that increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations may lead to (1) significant increases in phytoplanktonic growth rates, (2) significant increases in carbon:phosphorus ratios in marine phytoplankton, and (3) decreases in biogenic calcification.

What it means
The three effects noted above all tend to increase the ocean's capacity to take up and store atmospheric CO2 and, in the words of the authors, "serve as negative feedbacks to anthropogenic CO2 increase," providing thereby another example of the tendency of earth's climatic system to self-regulate itself and prohibit the development of runaway CO2-induced global warming.

Reviewed 15 October 1999