''Remember that 40 per cent of all the carbon dioxide going into the oceans goes into the Southern Ocean. It's going to hit high, and hit hard,'' she said.
Dr Roberts said work on tetrapod snails showed distinct acidification effects. ''We're finding evidence that shell structure has been getting softer since 1997.''
Similar problems face foraminifera, countless micro-organisms which also rely on calcium carbonate for their structure.
But it is the keystone Antarctic species, the shrimp-like krill, that is a focus of concern about future acidification.
Biologist So Kawaguchi said Antarctic krill were already experiencing changing climate stressors such as rising temperatures and changes in their planktonic food production.
In an aquarium world with carbon dioxide elevated at predicted rates, krill eggs failed to develop properly, Dr Kawaguchi said.
If emissions were to continue to rise, harm would increase during coming decades to the point where by 2300, krill would be unable to hatch in vast areas of the Southern Ocean.
Chief scientist at the Antarctic Division, Nick Gales, said work was beginning on the flow-on effects of the loss of krill.
''Animals that don't have the flexibility to prey switch are likely to be more in trouble,'' Dr Gales said.
''Among the whales, it would be the blue whale and the Antarctic minke which are reliant on krill. And there is a whole range of seabirds.''
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/risks-grow-for-antarctic-life-20131006-2v2d3.html#ixzz2gyXYvQFS