2 Nov 2020 - Scientists are working to establish a common methodology for evaluating rates of change in—and the various mechanisms that affect—acidification across ocean environments.
Media coverage concerning carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions into Earth’s atmosphere most often focuses on how these emissions affect climate and weather patterns. However, atmospheric CO2 is also the primary driver for ocean acidification, because the products of atmospheric CO2 dissolving into seawater reduce seawater’s pH and its concentration of carbonate ions. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the acidity of the ocean has increased by over 30%.
Some organisms in the ocean may struggle to adapt to increasingly acidified conditions, and even resilient life-forms may have a harder time finding food. Higher CO2 levels in ocean water also make it difficult for shellfish to build their shells and corals to form their reefs, both of which are made of carbonate compounds.
Ocean acidification affects the overall health of marine ecosystems as well as societal concerns about food security.
Ocean acidification, which affects the overall health of marine ecosystems as well as societal concerns about food security, has emerged as a major concern for decision-makers on local, regional, and global scales. Indeed, ocean acidification is now a headline climate indicator for the World Meteorological Organization.
Even though the world’s oceans are all connected, the effects of ocean acidification can unfold differently in various regions. The expression of ocean acidification can vary especially in coastal waters, where additional drivers, including both human-caused and natural processes such as nutrient runoff and biological productivity, vary greatly over time and space.
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