Ocean Acidification

Carbonic acid

There has always been a slight sense of reprieve to discover that about quarter of the man made CO2 is taken up by the ocean.

However what is seldom heard above the background noise is that CO2 dissolved in water is carbonic acid. a weak acid, but strong enough to dissolve calcium carbonate such as  limestone, coral reefs, or shells of shellfish.

This is how limestone caves are made. CO2 from rotting vegetation dissolves in water seeping underground. There it makes an equilibrium solution with calcium carbonate - limestone. Weak enough for soft drinks, but strong enough to carve out huge caverns.

Acidification of the oceans

Left unchecked, Ocean Acidification could destroy all our coral reefs by as early as 2050. It also has the potential to disrupt other ocean ecosystems, fisheries, habitats, and even entire oceanic food chains.

 

Source: PMEL carbon program

A few disturbing facts

The Great Barrier Reef generates over 6.5 billion dollars in tourism revenue and 63,000 jobs.

If atmospheric CO2 can be stabilised at 450 ppm, (one possible target that has been discussed by politicians) only 8% of existing tropical and subtropical coral reefs will still be in waters of the right pH level to support their growth.

This places in jeopardy an estimated 500 million people who depend on coral reefs for their daily food and income.

Within decades, Ocean Acidification will also start to have major impacts on temperate and polar water ecosystems. In fact, colder water absorbs higher levels of CO2 than warmer water. Our polar seas are already so acidic that they are starting to dissolve some shells.

 

Further research

The acidification is a huge disaster happening now with very little being done to prevent it.

This website is about the technology to prevent tis, and cannot do justice to such a huge and important topic. If you want to follow this up further, I suggest you start research at: http://oceanacidification.net/

 
Sea level rise: Interactive map by National Geographic