The Effects Of Anthropogenic Carbon Dioxide On Marine Biota Essay

The Effects Of Anthropogenic Carbon Dioxide On Marine Biota Essay

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The Effect of Anthropogenic Carbon Dioxide on Marine Biota

The global carbon cycle is one of the most important natural cycles on Earth. It is vital to all life on Earth. One of the key components of this global cycle is the marine carbonate cycle. It is the process that controls the dissolved carbon dioxide in the oceans.

The Marine Carbonate cycle is one of the fundamental mechanisms in the worlds’ oceans. It describes how carbon dioxide is dissolved, reacts and how it is stored in the oceans. The cycle controls acidity, precipitation and CO2 levels of the oceans and is also the largest component in the global carbon cycle as 30-40% of all the carbon dioxide we release into the atmosphere ends up in the oceans [1]. Acidity is fundamental to life because everything from plankton, to blue whales have evolved to live in the slightly basic oceans. If the marine carbonate cycle didn’t exist, the pH would vary greatly but the buffer action of dissolved carbon dioxide maintains a fairly constant level of acidity. The marine carbonate cycle describes how dissolved carbon dioxide reacts and dissolves into the oceans and is essential to the survival of the biota in the oceans. The shallow waters are generally low in CO2 concentrations because of the large amounts of marine life in the shallows. This means the majority of CO2 is at depth in the oceans. The marine carbonate cycle is essentially a series of equilibrium equations that show how carbon dioxide can assume different forms when in solution in the ocean.

(1) CO2(g) ⇌ CO2(aq)
(2) CO2(aq) + H2O ⇌ H2CO3 (Carbonic Acid)
(3) CO2(aq) + H2CO3 ⇌ H2CO3*
(1+2+3) CO2(g) + H2O ⇌ H2CO3*

(4) H2CO3* ⇌ H+ + HCO3- (bicarbonate)
(5) HCO3- ⇌ H+ + CO32- (carbonate)

Therefore the complete car...

... middle of paper ...

...ame study by Lohbeck et al [4] looked into how some phytoplankton have evolved to be able to produce calcium carbonate in slightly acidic conditions. This is very encouraging and if other species began adapting, the marine biota could well recover from the acidification. Adaptation is very slow so we do need to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions that we are producing.

1) Millero, Frank J. (1995). "Thermodynamics of the carbon dioxide system in the oceans". Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 59 (4): 661–677

2) A. Ridgewell and R.E. Zeebe, Earth and Planetary Science Letters Volume 234, Issues 3–4, 15 June 2005, Pages 299–315

3) R.N. Gibson, R.J. Atkinson, J.D.M. Gordon, J.P. Smith and D.J. Hughes Oceanography and marine biology, an annual review, 2011, 49, 1-42

4) K. T. Lohbeck, U. Riebesell & B. H. Thorsten ReuschNature Geoscience 5, 346–351(2012)

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