What Is Ocean Acidification

WHAT IS OCEAN ACIDIFICATION?

Ocean acidification is the process by which the ocean absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, thus decreasing the ocean’s pH. The ocean absorbs up to one-third of the carbon dioxide (CO2) in the earth’s atmosphere.

FACTS ABOUT OCEAN ACIDIFICATION

Ocean acidification is a slow process that happens over a long time. It can take years for the ocean to become acidic. Carbon dioxide has been building up in the atmosphere for a long time, which makes the oceans more acidic.

what is the main cause of ocean acidification
  • Scientists use PH scales to measure ocean acidity. A pH scale has values that go from 0 to 14. The lower the pH value, the more acidic the substance is. The higher the value, the more basic or alkaline it is.
  • Ocean water has a pH of around 8.1. If the pH value of ocean water goes above 7, it’s alkaline, so it has a high pH value.
  • When CO2 dissolves in the ocean, it makes the water acidic. When something has a pH value below 7, it’s acidic.
  • Scientists call the lowing of the Ocean’s P H “ocean acidification.” This change in ocean acidity changes the chemical properties of ocean water.
  • A lot of research shows that the ocean is 30 percent more acidic than it was 200 years ago.

(Research from the United State Environmental Protection Agency)

WHERE DOES OCEAN ACIDIFICATION OCCUR?

Acidification harms every ocean in the world. Unfortunately, human activities make the amount of carbon dioxide in the air rise. Therefore, oceans are getting more CO2 than ever before.

  • The growing acidification problem affects the whole ocean. However, some areas are more affected than others.
  • CO2 levels are higher in countries that use fossil fuels or cut down trees. The oceans in these places tend to be more acidic because they get more carbon dioxide from the air.
  • As the climate changes, ocean acidification is one of the things that will happen. It can only be reduced by cutting back on the amount of CO2 in the air.

WHAT IS THE MAIN CAUSE OF OCEAN ACIDIFICATION?

The main reason the ocean is more acidic is that there is too much carbon dioxide in the air.

  • Most of the carbon dioxide in the air comes from people.
  • Deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels are the most common ways CO2 levels rise.
how ocean acidification affects marine life

HOW OCEAN ACIDIFICATION AFFECTS MARINE LIFE

When ocean water becomes acidic, it puts aquatic animals at risk.  Overall, acidification damages marine ecosystems, which can lead to the extinction of important species.

Reduction In Carbonate ions

  • Carbonate ions are very important for all marine life. They are the building blocks for most things in the ocean.
  • With the help of carbonate ions, coral reefs grow in the ocean through a process scientists call  “calcification”. Crustaceans such as crabs, crayfish, shrimps, and lobsters also use carbonate ions to make calcium carbonate shells.
  • Basically, ocean acidification causes a chain of chemical reactions in the ocean water that make carbonate ions less available. Then, corals and shelled animals will struggle or die out.

Lowers Fish Populations

  • Shelled sea animals and corals are not the only living things in the oceans harmed by dangerous acid levels.  Ocean acidification harms all fish in the oceans. 
  • When fish eat carbonic acid, it makes them sick. Additionally, this acid causes growth problems or even death in very bad cases. Then the fish will not be able to reproduce, which will lead to fewer fish in the water.
  • Acidic conditions harm the eggs of some fish species. Thus, the acidic ocean water causes eggs to die before they hatch.
how ocean acidification affects humans

HOW OCEAN ACIDIFICATION AFFECTS HUMANS

The effects of ocean acidification on humans are both direct and indirect. Many problems arise from the acidification of the world’s oceans.

Ocean Acidification Is A Threat To Food Security

(Research from Smithsonian)

  • Humans get much of their food from the ocean. Over 15% of the protein people eat around the world comes from fish and other seafood.
  • Ocean acidification is likely to cut the amount of seafood available in most countries. A lot of people who live near the ocean might not be able to get enough to eat.
  • Because shellfish are hurt by ocean acidification, their numbers are likely to go down over time. A lot of fish eat shelled marine animals for food. There will be no food for the bigger fish.
  • Everything in the food chain, including humans, is affected by changes in the ocean’s acidity.

Increased Carbon dioxide Levels

  • In terms of climate change, the ocean is very important. One-quarter of the carbon dioxide that humans produce is taken up by the ocean.
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) is one of the gasses that make the Earth hotter. When the ocean takes CO2 from the air, the planet gets cooler.
  • Ocean acidification reduces the ocean’s ability to remove CO2 from the air. As a result, more CO2 will build up in the air, which will make climate change worse.
  • People are affected by climate change in a number of ways. It causes changes in the weather, which can lead to droughts, floods, and other disasters.
ocean acidification solutions

OCEAN ACIDIFICATION SOLUTIONS

The best way to stop ocean acidification is to cut back on carbon emissions. Several things can be done to cut down on the amount of CO2 in the air:

Practice Afforestation and Reforestation

  • When trees are planted in places where there were no trees before, this is called “afforestation.” Reforestation, on the other hand, is when new trees are planted to replace trees that have been cut down.
  • During photosynthesis, trees take in CO2 and turn it into oxygen. This can make a big difference in the amount of carbon dioxide in the air.

Avoid Fossil Fuels

  • There is a lot of CO2 released when fossil fuels are burned. People need clean energy, like solar panels, as an alternative to coal and oil.
  • There are also other gasses released by fossil fuels that cause climate change.

OCEAN ACIDIFICATION IS A THREAT TO MARINE LIFE

The way marine animals interact with their environment changes when acid levels are wrong. Finally, ocean acidification eats away at coral reefs which damages the places where aquatic animals breed.

Some fish species may become endangered or extinct because the ocean is getting more acidic.  Ocean acidification can only be stopped by cutting back on CO2 emissions.

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