The 411: Ocean Acidification

We’re breaking down what ocean acidification is and how it’s impacting us.

Published August 27, 2015

ocean-acidification-corals

Image via WikiCommons 

What is ocean acidification?

Ocean acidification is when carbon dioxide is absorbed by seawater and results in various chemical reactions. These chemical reactions affect seawater such as reducing the pH level, carbonating ion concentration, and the saturation state of important calcium carbonate minerals. All of these reactions are termed "ocean acidification” or “OA” for short.

Why is ocean acidification harmful?

Calcium carbonate minerals are the building blocks of skeletons and shells of many marine organisms. Ocean acidification is harmful, and sometimes life threatening, to these marine organisms though due to OA causing parts of the ocean to be under saturated with carbonate minerals. This affects the ability of marine organisms to produce and maintain their skeletons and shells.  Animals such as oysters, clams, sea urchins, and coral can all be at risk due to ocean acidification.

What is being done?

Ocean acidification is quickly becoming a global problem.  Sustained efforts are currently being put in place though to monitor ocean acidification worldwide. Scientists, resource managers, and policymakers are currently working together to take actions, such as reducing green house gases and  emissions, to help reduce the amount  in seawater.

How can I help?

You can help take a stand against ocean acidification by reducing your emission of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. There are tons of ways to reduce your carbon footprint such as:

  • Trying to walk, bike, or carpool instead of driving.
  • Washing clothes in cold water or on lower temperature settings.
  • Replacing incandescent light bulbs with CFLs (compact fluorescent lights).

The 411 is a new blog series that addresses complicated issues facing our ocean in four simple ways. Have an issue you’d like us to break down? Email us at social@aqua.org.

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