- Ocean acidification is a term which describes the changes in the chemistry of the world's oceans & seas.
- This is a major effect of burning fossil fuels.
- It is believed that changes to the oceans' pH levels will lead to adverse consequences on marine life and ecosystems.
- There has been a significant increase in atmospheric CO2 since the Industrial Revolution.
- This increase is the result of burning fossil fuels & changes in land use.
- Approximately half of this excess CO2 has been absorbed by the oceans, leading to a change in the surface water chemistry.
- The increased CO2 in the water is converted to carbonic acid, producing a decrease in the pH of the ocean surface.
- CO2 + H2O <==> HCO3- + H+
- Associated with a decrease in the ocean pH is a reduction in carbonate ions which are required to make calcium carbonate, an important component of shells and animal skeletons.
- This means that many organisms, such as coral, molluscs & plankton, are having difficulty maintaining or building their supportive structures.
- Some experts have described this phenomenon as oceanic osteoporosis.
- Higher numbers indicate alkalis.
- Lower numbers signify acidic liquids.
- pH 13 - bleach
- pH 10 - soap
- pH 8.2 - pre-1750 oceans (average)
- pH 8.1 - current oceans (average)
- pH 7.8 - oceans in 2100 (projected average)
- pH 7 - pure water
- pH 3 - vinegar
- pH 0 - battery acid
The key effects of climate change [BBC News] 10th Marck 2009.
Image: Adapted from Talk by PCSGA (2008)
Tags: Acidification - Atmosphere Sink - Bleach - Calcium Carbonate - Carbon - Carbon Sink - Carbon Dioxide - Carbonate - Carbonic Acid - Fossil Fuel - Industrial Revolution - Land Use - Ocean - Ocean Sink - pH - Soap - Vinegar - Water
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