Ocean Acidification

Why should I be concerned?

What is causing the ocean to become slightly acidic

-Use of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas causing excess carbon dioxide to be absorbed by the ocean

-Scientists calculate that the ocean is currently absorbing about one quarter of the CO2 that humans are emitting.

-Typically seawater is basic from the weathering of rocks, but when seawater absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere carbonic acid is produced causing the pH to be decreased

How does the ocean become acidic?

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Who is really affected by the ocean becoming acidic?

  • Marine organisms build their shells and skeletons from calcium carbonate, such as corals, oysters, clams, mussels, snails, and phytoplankton and zooplankton, the very base of the marine food web.
  • Their shells and skeletons may dissolve more readily as ocean pH decreases and seawater becomes more corrosive
  • When CO2 dissolves in seawater, the water chemistry changes allowing for fewer carbonate ions, the primary building blocks for shells and skeletons are available for uptake by marine organisms
  • The impact on corals is of great concern because they produce massive calcium carbonate structures called reefs that provide habitat for many marine animals, including commercially important fish and shellfish species that use the reefs as nursery grounds. Coral reefs are vital to humans as sources of food and medicine, protection from storms, and the focus of eco-tourism.
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You can make a difference

  • Decrease your carbon footprint daily and energy use
  • Eat less red meat(1 lb of beef is responsible for 20 lbs of emissions compared to chicken which is less than 2 lbs
  • Explore transportation alternatives
  • Reuse, reduce, recycle
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Ocean Acidification by the Alliance for Climate Education