Why is Ocean Acidification Such a Major Issue? (credit: Climate Central via WxShift)
DISCUSSION: As more and more pollution is generated by commercial transportation (i.e., both air and ground-based travel modes), there is increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide being dispersed into the global atmosphere. However, despite much of this carbon dioxide remaining suspended in gaseous form within the lower to middle parts of the atmosphere, a substantial portion of this global atmospheric carbon dioxide is deposited in the world's oceans. It is at this point that the previous gas-form of this carbon dioxide interacts with seawater to form a compound known as carbonic acid which has a detrimental and dangerous impact on various ecosystems which reside and thrive in the world's oceans. Thus, the production of carbonic acid not only will act to increase the net acidity of the world's oceans but it also has the effect of impacting the ability to various sea-life to survive based on their respective tolerance to changing acidity levels and consequences thereof. For more details on how carbonic acid (i.e., fused carbon dioxide with seawater as noted above), attached below is an exact excerpt from WxShift.com as re-shared by the Climate Central team on Twitter:
"About a quarter of the carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere is currently taken up by the oceans, where it reacts with seawater and forms carbonic acid. This “acidification” of global oceans is observed as lower pH levels. Since pre-industrial times, the average pH of ocean surface water fell from 8.21 to 8.10. While that does not sound like much, that is a 30 percent increase in acidity, and it could decrease another 0.3 pH units by the end of the century. At that rate, it would create an ocean more acidic than any seen in the past 100 million years."
"The current rate in acidity change is about 50 times faster than any known historical change, making it difficult for marine life to adapt. Carbonate ions in the ocean become less abundant in a more acidic ocean, making it difficult for shellfish (clams, oysters, mussels) to build shells and skeletons. Additionally plankton, which form the base of the oceanic food web, also have trouble adapting. In a cascading effect, this will alter ecosystems in a way that could threaten seafood staples around the world. More than 1 billion people rely on oceans for food, as well as their livelihood. By one estimate, ocean acidification will cost the global economy $1 trillion annually by 2100. Corals are similarly threatened. With less calcium carbonate available, it hinders the ability for corals to maintain their reefs, which are important habitats for other marine organisms and provide some coastal protection from storms."
To learn more about this particular story, feel free to click here!
To learn more about other global environmental topics, be sure to click here!
© 2018 Biologist McKensie Daugherty and Meteorologist Jordan Rabinowitz
Leave a Reply.