Ocean Acidification is a Direct Result of Carbon Emission

On top of waste tossed into the ocean, which most associate with how humans impact the ocean ecosystem, ocean acidification is also playing a major role in impacting marine life negatively. Ocean acidification is the act of causing the pH of the ocean to reduce. This act is mainly due to the uptake of carbon dioxide of CO2 from the atmosphere. This process can be traced as far back as the 18 hundreds, the time of the industrial revolution. The buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been increasing in the past 200 years, leading to the drop in pH of the world’s oceans.

“The ocean absorbs about 30% of the carbon dioxide (CO2) that is released in the atmosphere. As levels of atmospheric CO2 increase from human activity such as burning fossil fuels (e.g., car emissions) and changing land use (e.g., deforestation), the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by the ocean also increases.  When CO2 is absorbed by seawater, a series of chemical reactions occur resulting in the increased concentration of hydrogen ions.” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. When the water in the ocean absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere, carbonic acid is formed which later dissociates into hydrogen ions and bicarbonate ions. According to NOAA, the ocean’s average pH is 8.1, but with the increase in uptake of CO2, this number is expected to decrease, leading to a more acidic environment for marine wildlife.

Ocean Acidification

When the ocean becomes increasingly acidic, fish such as the clownfish experience difficulty in surviving. “The ability of some fish, like clownfish, to detect predators is decreased in more acidic waters. Studies have shown that decreased pH levels also affect the ability of larval clownfish offsite link to locate suitable habitat.” Additionally, if the population of primary/secondary consumers such as clownfish are threatened, it risks the survival of other organisms such as it’s predators. This process brings into the light yet another reason why carbon emission is such a devastating event and why it needs to be addressed.

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