Increasing CO2 in the ocean will make the transmission of lower frequency sounds more efficient; which basically means that whales and other ocean life will be more affected by our motors and engines than they are now – even if the number of boats out there stays constant.
There was an interesting paper in Nature Geoscience published the 20th of December 2009 covering this subject recently. Here is the information for that paper:
Future ocean increasingly transparent to low-frequency sound owing to carbon dioxide emissions
by Tatiana Ilyina1 *, Richard E. Zeebe1 * and Peter G. Brewer2
As we are producing more carbon emissions the ocean is absorbing more carbon dioxide. This will have far reaching effects on the marine wildlife. First the acidity of the ocean is increasing, and is projected to get about 10x more acidic over the remainder of the century. Second, as you pointed out, the increased carbon dioxide absorption will have an effect on how sound travels in the ocean. The decrease in pH will lead to less absorption of low frequency sound waves and may affect both marine life who use low frequencies to attract mates and find food as well as some of our military operations.
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