Ocean Acidification And Its Consequences

Ocean Acidification and its Consequences

Ocean acidification is defined as a drop in the pH of the ocean over time, primarily due to the uptake of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere.

What is Ocean Acidification?

•    Ocean acidification is been considered as "the other CO2 problem" and the "evil twin of global warming."
•    The uptake of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere causes an ongoing decrease in the pH of the Earth's oceans, known as ocean acidification.
•    An estimated 30–40% of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by human activity dissolves in oceans, rivers, and lakes.
•    Some of it reacts with water to form carbonic acid in order to achieve chemical equilibrium (H2CO3).
•    Some of the extra carbonic acid molecules react with a water molecule to produce bicarbonate and hydronium ions, raising ocean acidity (H+ ion concentration).
•    The weak acid H2CO3 is formed when CO2 reacts with water molecules (H2O) (carbonic acid). The hydrogen ions (H+) and bicarbonate ions make up the majority of this acid (HCO3). 
•    The increase in H+ ions lowers the pH (a measure of acidity), causing the oceans to acidify (become more acidic or less alkaline). Ocean acidification is the term for this process.
The only way to reduce ocean acidification is to reduce CO and CO2 emissions and pollution.
Ocean Acidification and its Consequences

What are the Consequences of Ocean Acidification?

•    Carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere have been rising for more than 200 years, or since the industrial revolution, due to the burning of fossil fuels and changes in land use. The ocean absorbs about 30% of the CO2 that is released into the atmosphere, and as atmospheric CO2 levels rise, so do ocean CO2 levels.
•    When CO2 is absorbed by seawater, it triggers a chain of chemical reactions that result in an increase in hydrogen ion concentration. As a result of this increase, seawater becomes more acidic and carbonate ions become less abundant. This also changes the chemical composition of oceans.
•    Carbonate ions are essential components of structures like sea shells and coral skeletons. Reduced carbonate ions can make it difficult for calcifying organisms like oysters, clams, sea urchins, shallow water corals, deep sea corals, and calcareous plankton to build and maintain shells and other calcium carbonate structures.
•    Non-calcifying organisms' behaviour may be affected by these changes in ocean chemistry. In more acidic waters, certain fish's ability to detect predators is harmed. When these organisms are threatened, the entire food web may be threatened as well.
•    The entire world's oceans, including coastal estuaries and waterways, are being affected by ocean acidification. Many economies rely on fish and shellfish, and people all over the world eat seafood as their primary source of protein.

Ocean Acidification Facts:

•    Marine calcifying organisms, such as coral (calcareous corals) and some plankton (calcareous plankton), find it more difficult to form biogenic calcium carbonate as the amount of carbonate ions available decreases.
•    Acidification harms calcifying organisms, which form the foundation of Arctic food webs, putting commercial fisheries at risk.
•    Coral bleaching is exacerbated by rising acidity because corals are extremely sensitive to changes in water composition.
•    Ocean acidification may have an impact on food security.
•    The global annual costs of mollusc loss due to ocean acidification could be more than $100 by 2100.
•    Ocean acidification's effects on marine ecosystems could have a significant impact on the tourism industry.
•    Acidification could harm the Arctic tourism industry and indigenous peoples' way of life.
•    As ocean acidification worsens, the ocean's ability to absorb CO2 decreases. As a result the carbon dioxide will remain in the air and fuel the climate change towards worse.
•    Oceans that are more acidic are less effective at mitigating climate change.
•    Corals will be affected by ocean acidification. This will have an impact on the one million species that call corals home.
•    Coral reefs are eroding at a faster rate than they can be rebuilt. When shelled organisms are threatened, the entire food web may be threatened as well.
•    Higher CO2 concentrations may benefit some algae and seagrass by increasing photosynthetic and growth rates.
•    Climate change, pollution, coastal development, overfishing, and agricultural fertilisers will all exacerbate acidification.

Why a Small PH Change Is Worrisome?

Since the industrial revolution, the pH of the ocean has dropped from 8.2 to 8.1, and it is expected to drop another 0.3 to 0.4 pH units by the end of the century. Many chemical reactions, including life-sustaining ones, are sensitive to small pH changes.

Isn’t It Good That Oceans are Absorbing the CO2?

Many scientists initially concentrated on the advantages of the ocean removing this greenhouse gas from the atmosphere. At first, scientists thought this was a good thing because it reduces the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which helps to warm the planet. 
However, they've realised in the last decade that this slowed warming has come at the expense of changing the ocean's chemistry.
The fact that the oceans' capacity as a carbon storehouse may diminish as they absorb more CO2 is also concerning. As a result, more of the carbon dioxide we produce will remain in the atmosphere, aggravating global climate change. Ocean acidification reduces the ocean's ability to absorb anthropogenic CO2, causing climate change to worsen.
Ocean Acidification and its Consequences

What are the Effects of Ocean Acidification on Cloud Formation?

•    The ocean emits the majority of sulphur into the atmosphere, which is often in the form of dimethylsulfide (DMS), which is produced by phytoplankton.
•    Some of the DMS produced by phytoplankton reaches the atmosphere, where it reacts with sulphuric acid to form sulphuric acid, which clumps together to form aerosols, or microscopic airborne particles.
•    Aerosols cause clouds to form, which help to cool the planet by reflecting sunlight.
•    Phytoplankton, on the other hand, produces less DMS in acidified ocean water.
•    Reduced sulphur levels may result in less cloud formation, raising global temperatures.

What Causes Ocean Acidification?

•    Buring of fossil fuels
•    Increase in concentration of carbon dioxide in water
•    Industrial revolution
•    Air pollution
•    Water pollution
•    Increase in concentration of carbon dioxide in air
•    Biodiversity loss
•    Loopholes in the government laws and regulations
•    Human irresponsibility towards environment and climatic changes

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