Ocean Acidification

explanatory Essay
1282 words
1282 words

3.0 Background Information
3.1 Rising CO2 Levels and Ocean Acidification
Ocean acidification is caused due to rising CO2 emissions created by industrial development and greenhouse gases. This increase in carbon dioxide causes changes within the ocean’s biochemistry. Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations are expected to rise from pre-industrial level of 280 to 540-970 ppm by the year 2100, depending on future emission scenarios (IPCC, 2001). Eventually the oceans will become highly acidic if mankind is unable to control their CO2 emissions. About 30% of CO2 emissions are taken up by the oceans today (Freely et al. 2004) and this percentage will continue to rise if nothing is done to prevent it, potentially leading to enhanced levels of ultraviolet radiation at the earth’s surface (Harley, C. D. G., et al, 2006). While many marine organisms have adapted to thermal fluctuations in the last few million years, the expected changes in pH are higher than any other pH changes inferred from the fossil record over the past 200–300 million years (Caldeira & Wickett 2003; Feelyet al. 2004). The following diagram represents the effect of greenhouse gas emissions on the oceans causing increased CO2, decreased pH, sea level rise, storm frequency and potential upwelling.
Due to the rapid changes in comparison to previous years, fish are becoming prone to predator attacks and are having difficulty reproducing due to higher acidity levels. Because of increase greenhouse gas emissions carbon dioxide absorbed within the Earth’s atmosphere this excess CO2 prevents heat from escaping the planet, this process is known as the ‘greenhouse’ effect which is the cause of global warming. upwelling is uncertain.
3.2 Temperature change and Rising Sea levels...

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... many of these species are more vulnerable to increased fishing pressure than climate change (Graham et al. 2011). It should be recognised, however, that the vast majority of tropical marine fishes in Australia are not exploited and the most practical mitigation response for these species (apart from reducing greenhouse gas emissions) is to maintain population resilience by reducing other stresses. Reducing terrestrial runoff, improving water quality, limiting the extent of destructive fishing practices (e.g. benthic trawling), removing barriers to dispersal (e.g. weirs) and considering the impacts that coastal mitigation responses will have on marine fishes are important measures that will assist tropical coastal and benthic fish populations deal with a rapidly changing climate. (Munday, P.L. et al., 2012)

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that climate change has significantly affected temperature within the atmosphere and oceans globally. temperature affects physiological processes ranging from protein damage to membrane fluidity to organ function.
  • Explains that sea level rise may reduce the spatial extent of biogenic habitat by outpacing the accretion rates of marshes and coral reefs.
  • Explains that the great barrier reef is under threat due to climate change. scientists are working to prevent the destruction of coral reefs and its inhabitants.
  • Explains that a recent study in marine-life behaviour in relation to damselfish has proven that elevated co2 levels impairs their ability to learn the identity of predators. the aims long term monitoring program surveys 47 reefs in the great barrier reef annually since 1993.
  • Opines that the most practical mitigation response for tropical marine fishes in australia is to maintain population resilience by reducing other stresses.
  • Explains that ocean acidification is caused by rising co2 emissions created by industrial development and greenhouse gases.
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