For years we have been hearing about the negative effects of climate change. One aspect you may not be aware of is the impact of climate change on the health of oceans. Ocean acidification is a global environmental issue caused by the man-made release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Ocean acidification is often called the "evil twin" to climate change, because both issues are rooted in carbon dioxide emissions.
Fundamental changes in seawater chemistry are occurring throughout the world's oceans. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, the release of carbon dioxide (CO) from humankind's industrial and agricultural activities has increased the amount of CO in the atmosphere. The about a quarter of the CO we release into the atmosphere every year, so as atmospheric CO levels increase, so do the levels in the ocean. Initially, many scientists focused on the benefits of the ocean removing this greenhouse gas from the atmosphere. However, decades of ocean observations now show that there is also a downside — the CO absorbed by the ocean is changing the chemistry of the seawater, a process called
While the oceans are becoming more acidic, they are still on the basic side of the pH scale (basic - neutral - acidic). It is highly unlikely that the oceans will ever become actual acid. However, even small changes in the acidity of the oceans can result in severe ramifications. As they become more acidic, corals and other organisms will find it increasingly difficult to build new skeletons and shells and those that already exist may begin to dissolve.
The acidification of the world’s oceans from an excess of CO2 has already begun, as evidenced recently by the widespread mortality of oyster larvae in the Pacific Northwest. Scientists say this is just a harbinger of things to come if greenhouse gas emissions continue to soar. elizabeth grossman
Yale Environment 360 article titled Massive Oyster Die-offs Show Ocean Acidification Has Arrived
A new study says the seas are acidifying ten times faster today than 55 million years ago when a mass extinction of marine species occurred. And, the study concludes, current changes in ocean chemistry due to the burning of fossil fuels may portend a new wave of die-offs. carl zimmer
Yale Environment 360 article An Ominous Warning on the Effects of Ocean Acidificat