Ocean Acidification: The Ocean's Effect On The Oceans

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Oceans cover around seventy percent of the Earth’s surface. The oceans of the world have a direct relationship with weather and climate – they influence the weather both locally and globally and the changes in climate in exchange have an affect on properties of the oceans. Changes that occur to the ocean for the most part occur over a much longer period than in the atmosphere. Even if carbon dioxide emissions were to be stabilized today, it would centuries for oceans to adjust to the changes in the atmosphere. When greenhouse gases trap more energy for the sun, oceans then absorb more heat; and in turn there is a rise in sea surface temperatures as well rising sea levels. Oceans do help to reduce climate change due to the fact that they…show more content…
In the atmosphere carbon dioxide is chemically neutral, however when it dissolves in seawater it reacts with H2O to form a weak carbonic acid. Over recent years, oceans have become more acidic because of the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The acidity of the ocean is determined by the concentration of hydrogen ions which are then measured on a pH scale – where the greater the level of hydrogen ions, the lower the pH (Askins, 2008). As the pH of the ocean drops from the pre-industrial value of 8.2 to 7.8 by 2020, ocean acidification is predicted to have a great effect on the ocean. Many of the aquatic organisms are very sensitive to the acidity of water, and as a result there will be effects at all levels of the marine food web (Balch & Utgoff, 2009). The carbonate shells of marine animals for example can dissolve in acidic waters. Also coral reefs will also be impacted negatively by increased acidity in addition to the effect that warmer waters are already having on them (McCarty, Wolfenbarger,…show more content…
The major composition of the ocean chemistry that is affected by atmospheric CO2 are understood for the most part and can be calculated accurately. However there is much uncertainty of the biological effects caused by ocean acidification and how it will vary amongst organisms; some may cope better than others. Even though the research on ocean acidification is still very young, there is already evidence of biological impacts due to changes in the chemistry of the ocean. The greatest evidence of the impactions of ocean acidification on marine ecosystems can be seen in experiments on calcifying organisms. When seawater is acidified to various amounts the formation and dissolution of calcium carbonate shells and skeletons in marine organisms such as reef-building corals, oysters and mussels, and phytoplankton and zooplankton which for the base for marine food webs (“Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy…”,
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