Mitigating the Hazard of Ocean Acidification

2106 Words9 Pages
Introduction Ocean acidification, refers to decrease in the pH (and increase in the concentration of H+ ions) of the Earth’s oceans, due to the increase in anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere dissolving in the waters. This refers to CO2 released from human activities such as the increase in fossil fuel burning. The increase in concentration of H+ ions causes a change in the chemistry of the ocean waters. Current surface ocean pH is already 0.1 unit lower than preindustrial values in the 18th century, translating into a 30% increase (Orr et al., 2005). Projections based on SRES scenarios give further reductions in average global surface ocean pH of between 0.14 and 0.35 units over the 21st century (IPCC, 2007). According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) Carbon Program, “when CO2 is absorbed by seawater, chemical reactions occur that reduce seawater pH, carbonate ion concentration, and saturation states of biologically important calcium carbonate minerals” (NOAA PMEL, n.d). If too much carbon dioxide enters the ocean too quickly, it can deplete the carbonate ions that corals, mollusks and some plankton need for reef and shell-building (National Science Foundation, 2012). In addition, acidification can be a result of CO2 seeping from sub-seabed reservoirs, directly affecting the chemistry and marine life in the surrounding sediment and overlying waters. The immediate surrounding areas from the CO2 leak point are likely to suffer a drop in the pH value. Furthermore, if the CO2 travels upward toward the surface, it may cause the infaunal deep-sea communities to die or affect marine biota if the effects spread to them (Ishida et al., 2013). Hazards of Ocean Acidification The accelerating rate of ocean acidification is alarming and poses as a hazard as

More about Mitigating the Hazard of Ocean Acidification

Open Document