The study said that carbon dioxide induced "changes in ocean chemistry within the ranges predicted for the next decades and centuries presented significant risks to marine biota".
It would have an "adverse impact on food webs and key biogeochemical process", it said.
"About 1/3 of the CO2 from fossil fuel burning is absorbed by the world's oceans. When CO2 gas dissolves in the ocean it makes carbonic acid, which can damage coral reefs and also hurt other calcifying organisms, such as phytoplankton and zooplankton, some of the most critical players at the bottom of the world's food chain," said lead author Ken Caldeira from the Carnegie Institution Department of Global Ecology.
"In sufficient concentration, the acidity can corrode shellfish shells, disrupt coral formation, and interfere with oxygen supply," he said.
Caldeira said atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations could reach 500 ppm by mid-century. Pre-industrial concentrations, by comparison, were 280 ppm and today's concentration hovers at around about 380 ppm.
The study included researchers from Norway, the UK, France, Australia, Japan, Monaco, and the US.