Ocean Acidification

explanatory Essay
1102 words
1102 words

Ocean acidification a the process in which anthropogenic carbon dioxide is dissolved in the ocean to a point where it creates a dilute solution of carbonic acid. Although, dilute the solution does cause the ocean to become more acidic. The ocean is referred to as a “carbon sink” because almost a third of manmade carbon carbon dioxide has been dissolved in the ocean. The carbonic acid decomposes and creates a hydrogen ion and a bicarbonate ion. The bicarbonate ion in the case of corals impedes the process of calcification. Calcification is the process in which corals release calcium carbonate. Corals are basically large deposits of solid calcium carbonate that are a result of calcification. Carbonic acid in the ocean causes calcium carbonate deposits to dissolve and produce an two bicarbonate ions which impedes calcification for small algaes and planktons. Ocean acidification is not only a problem that needs to be dealt with, but can theoretically be reversed.
The average pH of the ocean before ocean acidification was prevalent was around 8.2. However, today the ocean’s pH is at about 8.1 which is an increase in acidity of 30% (Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory). Simply adding a base would most likely work, but would be economically improbable. The amount of base that would have to add would be more than that of the dissolved carbon dioxide. It is an unethical solution, but it is also a very promising solution to the problem. The only problem with adding a base to the ocean is that the creatures of the ocean might not be able to adapt to the newly added chemicals. Adding a base might find a solution to the problem of increasing acidification, but it might also cause other problems.
A weak base that is recommended by most a...

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CNN World. "Oceans failing the acid test, U.N. says." CNN World [UK] 2 Dec. 2010, 1 ed., sec. 1: 1. CNN World. Print. 6 Sept. 2013.
Hofmann, Laurie C., Sandra Straub, and Kai Bischof. "Elevated CO2 Levels Affect the Activity of Nitrate Reductase and Carbonic Anhydrase in the Calcifying Rhodophyte Corallina Officinalis." Journal of Experimental Botany Advance Access Published January 10, 2013. Bremen Marine Ecology Centre for Research and Education, 10 Jan. 2013. Print. 4 Nov. 2013.
Hebert, Paul D. N. "Pacific Ocean." Pacific Ocean. University of Delaware, 12 Dec. 2008. Web. 04 Nov. 2013.
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Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory. "A Primer on PH." A Primer on PH. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 01 Oct. 2008. Web. 05 Nov. 2013.

In this essay, the author

  • Describes the process of ocean acidification, whereby anthropogenic carbon dioxide is dissolved in the ocean to create a dilute solution of carbonic acid.
  • Explains that adding a base to the ocean would work, but it would be economically improbable.
  • Explains that sodium bicarbonate is a weak base that is recommended by most aquarists. the final products of the reaction are calcium carbonate and dilute hydrochloric acid.
  • Opines that the world needs to act to ensure the survival of corals and the creatures that rely on coral reefs to survive.
  • Explains that ocean acidification is not the only cause of diminishing corals and reducing crustacean populations, but it is one of the major problems.
  • Explains that the pacific ocean and the atlantic ocean are the most different oceans based on climate, size, and salinity.
  • Explains that coral populations are decreasing and dissolving, but dead coral could actually save the world’s oceans.
  • Opines that the only way the ocean will balance itself out would be if all corals die. the dead coral acts as a literal "building block," for coral reefs.
  • Opines that the ocean could reach an acidity that has not been seen in over 20 million years.
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