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HOUR 1

Earths Physical Systems Atmosphere, Hydrosphere, Lithosphere, Biosphere in relation to


Ecosystem
Hybrid World Studies

OCEAN ACIDIFACATION
By: Isaiah Kent-Schneider

Ocean Acidification
Global Warming has a recently discovered and just as menacing twin;
meet Ocean Acidification. Ever since the industrial revolution the ocean has
absorbed between 1/4th and a half of all greenhouse gases the world has
produced (National Geographic). At 22 million tons per day the total reaches
over 525 billion tons of CO2 (Ocean.si.edu). For a long time the scientific
community saw this as a benefit without thinking of any possible
shortcomings. That is until studies done in the past decade proved that the
oceans pH levels had dropped by about 0.1. In other words the ocean has
become about 25% more acidic in the last 200 years exemplifying the
biggest and fastest change in the chemical makeup in the oceans in the last
50 million years (oceana.org). The waters near big time production cities and
countries are worse off than others. Ocean Acidification causes numerous
negative effects on the environment: not only does it cause shelled animals
to be unable to grow their protective shells but additionally if we continue
putting great amounts of CO2 into the air the ocean may begin to slow down
or all together stop the amount of CO2 it can collect exponentially increasing
the Rate of Global Warming.
After adapting for millions and millions of years to an ocean with a
constant pH animals are struggling to keep up with the drastic drop. There a
few things that drive this process: First, as the water becomes more acidic
the pH continues to drop. Second, as this occurs it causes carbonate ions,
which are important elements of calcium and help create bones and

protective structures like shells, to be bound up (ocean.si.edu). This means


these same ions are unavailable for small shellfish to use in creating the very
structures they use to survive. Also the oceans transition towards more
acidic water can cause animals with already weak shells to have their shells
disintegrated faster forcing them to use more energy reproducing the shell
and sacrificing other daily functions (National Geographic).
As the ocean continues to absorb mass amounts of CO2 and other
greenhouse gases it will continue to become more acidic. It could drop to
levels never seen before in earths history but as this happens the ocean
itself could also slow its absorption rate leaving more in the atmosphere
(scientific American). Although this concern seems futuristic we need to
understand it and correct it now or end up facing massive planetary
problems. Even if we stopped all production of CO2 today ocean acidification
and global warming wont necessarily come to a screeching halt. Its like
attempting to stop running while at a full sprint, it will take a couple steps for
you to completely stop. This concept is the same with CO2 emissions except
magnified drastically because carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for
hundreds of years and even longer in the ocean (Scientific American). With
this in mind we discover that a fix for this problem will take an incredibly long
time and a lot of hard work, compromise, and even sacrifice.
Although fixing this problem will take very substantial efforts, research
is being done into ways to extract atmospheric CO2 and also CO2 already in
the ocean to reverse the process at a more rapid pace. Another important

point environmental engineers want to look at is how to do so without


radically cutting emissions. This type of a fix is called Geoengineering
because it changes the biosphere and manipulates planetary systems
(ocean.si.edu). Another proposed solution to this issue revolves around
introducing various life forms which consume CO2, such as plankton, into the
oceans in vast quantities. The idea is they would consume the excess gas
and then upon death sink to the great depths of the ocean taking the acidity
with it. They do not know however if this would increase acidity in the great
depths of the ocean or cause new unseen problems. Also it remains unknown
how this may affect the food chain or biodiversity of life in the oceans
(ocean.si.edu).
Ocean Acidification causes issues left and right for our planet and
ecosystem. It is, as most problems these days, caused by humans and their
increasing consumption. Just as you look up to see Global Warming you must
stare down into the depths of our planet to come across its closely related
counterpart. Ocean Acidification has slid under the radar for so long that its
drastic effects are little known and now that it begins to come to light in our
world we must step up and make changes. If we do not it will continue to
wreak havoc on the underwater creatures and their habitat eventually
working its way back to us in one way or another; by that time it will be hard
to stop.

Works Cited
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in Coral Reef Builders." Ocean Acidification Causes Bleaching and Productivity Loss in Coral
Reef Builders. Ed. David Karl. University of Hawaii Honolulu, 26 Sept. 2008. Web. 19 Oct.
2014. <http://www.pnas.org/content/105/45/17442.short>.
"Coral Reefs Under Rapid Climate Change and Ocean Acidification." Coral Reefs Under Rapid
Climate Change and Ocean Acidification. AAAS Science, 14 Dec. 2007. Web. 19 Oct. 2014.
<http://www.sciencemag.org/content/318/5857/1737.short>.
Eilperin, Juliet. "Ocean Acidification Emerges as New Climate Threat." Washington Post. The
Washington Post, 30 Sept. 2012. Web. 19 Oct. 2014.
<http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/ocean-acidification-emerges-as-newclimate-threat/2012/09/30/8457e6e8-08b8-11e2-afff-d6c7f20a83bf_story.html>.
Hardt, Marah, and Carl Safina. "How Acidification Threatens Oceans from the Inside Out." Scientific
American Global RSS. N.p., Aug. 2010. Web. 19 Oct. 2014.
<http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/threatening-ocean-life/>.

"Ocean Acidification -- National Geographic." National Geographic. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Oct. 2014.
<http://ocean.nationalgeographic.com/ocean/critical-issues-ocean-acidification/>.
"Ocean Acidification." : Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Oct. 2014.
<http://www.whoi.edu/main/topic/ocean-acidification>.
"Ocean Acidification." Natural Resorces Defense Council. NRDC, n.d. Web. 16 Oct. 2014.
<http://www.nrdc.org/oceans/acidification/>.
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<http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/co2/story/Ocean%2BAcidification>.
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<http://www.sciencedaily.com/articles/o/ocean_acidification.htm>.
"Ocean Acidification." Smithsonian Ocean Portal. Ed. Jennifer Bennet. Ocean Portal Team, n.d. Web.
17 Oct. 2014. <http://ocean.si.edu/ocean-acidification>.
Sakashita, Miyoko. "ENDANGERED OCEANS." Endangered Oceans. Center for Biological
Diversity, n.d. Web. 19 Oct. 2014.
<http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/endangered_oceans/index.html>.
Stephens, Christopher. "10 Weird Environmental Issues With Serious Impacts On Wildlife Listverse." Listverse. Listverse, 15 Apr. 2014. Web. 19 Oct. 2014.
<http://listverse.com/2014/04/15/10-weird-environmental-issues-with-serious-impacts/>.
"Stories." PMEL Carbon Program. NOAA, n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2014.
<http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/co2/story/What%2Bis%2BOcean%2BAcidification%253F>.
"What Is Ocean Acidification?" Oceana. Oceana, n.d. Web. 16 Oct. 2014. <http://oceana.org/en/ourwork/climate-energy/ocean-acidification/learn-act/what-is-ocean-acidification>.