Ocean acidification is the main cause to most marine issues, and a major factor in the rising sea levels. I discussed a bit of ocean acidification in my last article on Coral Reefs, which you can read here.
Today, I will go into a few more of the details of ocean acidification, in hopes to give you a better understanding of what it is, and what it does.
First, what is ocean acidification?
It’s a complicated definition, which begins with CO2 in the atmosphere. Studies have shown that oceans have absorbed 33 percent of all human related emissions since the 1800’s, and 50 percent of all fossil fuel emissions. This can be shown in the difference of certain types of carbon detected within the water and in the air, and how they correlate with the increase of those types of carbons within the ocean.
As carbon enters into the water, it undergoes a process that ends in a chemical equilibrium – a state where all chemical compounds involved are equal in concentration and mass, and cannot change over time. In this case, carbon dioxide (CO2), mixing with H20, to create the compound called carbonic acid (H2CO3).
This increase in carbonic acid has led to a decrease in ocean PH (Potential of Hydrogen) levels, and thus, a decrease in ocean alkaline levels. Lower alkaline levels are a major factor that lead to acidification, as alkaline dilutes acidic compounds, and puts them into a neutral state. This has a plethora of adverse affects to marine ecosystems.
As discussed in my past article on coral reefs, ocean acidification is the cause for coral bleaching. Bleaching leads to a ton of other problems, and I hope you will read my past article, as well as my sources, so you can find out more for yourself.
Ocean acidification has other affects on our world. For one, it raises the overall temperature of the ocean. The best example of this is explained in my second article: WTF Is Climate Change? – where I go over an experiment involving two jars, and a bit of CO2.
One jar has a hose that is pumping Co2 into it, and the other is full of the same oxygen that we breathe. We put both under a light, and check out how the temperature changes. You will see that the jar with CO2 being pumped into it gets hotter, faster. The same goes for water when it’s underneath sunlight. The more CO2 inside to absorb the heat, the hotter the water becomes.
Warmer ocean water has obvious repercussions to marine life, but there’s another factor that directly affects humans. It raises the sea level.
It does this by raising the heat, thus expanding the carbon molecules absorbing the sunlight within the water. It also contributes to the melting of glaciers – another factor in rising sea levels. In truth, ocean acidification is one of the biggest reasons why the ocean levels continue to rise.
In addition to the heat, it also allows sonar to travel further in the ocean, which leads to a noise distortion for animals that rely on it to travel, or detect predators or prey. This puts stress on an already bad situation, and has an adverse affect on the food chain.
Another issue is the corrosion of calcium carbonate. This puts many animals, such as shellfish, oysters, and others that use bone-like structures to protect their body at risk, as much of their shell is made up of calcium carbonate, and it also makes up the structure of coral skeletons. Putting them in danger is another hit to the food chain, which ripples through the rest of the ecosystem.
Ocean acidification is one of the big problems that has to be tackled within the Climate Change argument, and finding out more knowledge about it is the best way to figure out how.
Below I will link my sources, as well as other links where you can find more information on ocean acidification. You should also check out my past articles on the climate change discussion, and let me know what you think.
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Past Articles on Climate Change:
#1 Debating Common Misconceptions:
#2 WTF is Climate Change? :
#3 Corals Reefs – Function and Destruction:
Oregon State on the affects of Ocean Acidification:
What is Ocean Acidification? :
Importance of Proper PH Level:
Impacts of Ocean Acidification on Marine Fauna and Ecosystem Processes – Oxford Journals:
EPA’s Global Emissions Data: