This tiny deep-sea snail called Atlanta peroni may be a bellwether of global warming.
Increased levels of carbon in the atmosphere, caused by burning fossil fuels among other things, is known to elevate the acidity of deep ocean water. This spike in acid levels in turn inhibits snails from growing shells.
The Earth's oceans and other bodies of water act as enormous carbon sinks that help regulate the planet's climate. Surface-dwelling plankton absorb carbon from the atmosphere and are consumed by animals called zooplankton, which come to the surface to feed and then return to the depths.
This feeding cycle transports huge amounts of carbon from the atmosphere to the sea bottom, where the crushing pressure keeps it trapped.
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Photograph by Russ Hopcroft, courtesy Census of Marine Life