Monday, May 30, 2011

Ocean acidification facts

Ocean acidification refers to the currently ongoing process of decreasing the pH of the Earth's oceans as a result of excessive levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Basically speaking, the absorption of too much carbon dioxide by seawater results in the ocean acidification. It is estimated that around quarter of the carbon dioxide that humans emit in the atmosphere each year ends up being dissolved into the ocean.

Ocean acidification (unless stopped) will in years to come create huge marine biodiversity loss. The scientists have estimated that the current acidification in our oceans is on a track to reach acidity levels higher than any seen in the last 65 million years.

Among marine organisms mostly affected by ocean acidification are corals. Corals are already finding it hard to cope with the increased acidity in our oceans, and it is estimated that the recruitment of new corals could drop by staggering 73 percent over the next century.

Corals are extremely vulnerable to ocean acidification because they (together with oysters, some algae species and sea urchins) belong to calcifying organisms and ocean acidification therefore makes it extremely difficult to build their shells and skeletons.

The large number of scientists believes that ocean acidification will likely reduce coral reef growth to alarming levels before the end of this century unless world significantly cuts CO2 emissions.

Ocean acidification is not always caused just by atmospheric CO2 being absorbed by seawater, in certain areas ocean acidification may be driven by causes such as agricultural runoff or soil erosion.

Oceans today are around 25 percent more acidic than they were 300 years ago.

Polar seas (such as Arctic Ocean) are considered extremely vulnerable to ocean acidification because the high solubility of CO2 in cold waters results in naturally low carbonate saturation states.

The full effects of ocean acidification to marine organisms are still unknown although most scientists agree that ocean acidification will in years to come create massive changes in marine biodiversity (if of course world continues current trend of massive CO2 emissions).

It is impossible to tackle ocean acidification without tackling the climate change issue first. The best way to tackle both of these big environmental threat would be an international climate deal that would oblige all countries to massive CO2 cuts.