Carbon Dioxide and Ocean Acidification

Air - sea exchange of carbon dioxide

Air - sea exchange of carbon dioxide (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Carbon Dioxide isn’t just stored in the atmosphere. The soils, plants and trees, and the ocean also act as a carbon sink. According to NOAA, the oceans absorb up to a quarter of the carbon dioxide released by humanity every year. This CO2 is changing the chemistry and leading to ocean acidification.

Calcium carbonate minerals are the building blocks for the skeletons and shells of many marine organisms. In areas where most life now congregates in the ocean, the seawater is supersaturated with respect to calcium carbonate minerals. This means there are abundant building blocks for calcifying organisms to build their skeletons and shells. However, continued ocean acidification is causing many parts of the ocean to become undersaturated with these minerals, which is likely to affect the ability of some organisms to produce and maintain their shells.

This acidification not only effects small shelled animals like, oysters and clams, but also the larger animals that feed on them and therefore, the entire food web. This directly effects whales, seals, birds and commercial fishing stocks which become at risk of collapse.

Already under threats of bleaching from higher ocean temperatures, as well as threats from pollution, over-fishing, and development, coral reefs are greatly effected by ocean acidification. And that also threatens the habitat that they provide for species to numerous to mention.

At some point, the oceans become full up of carbon dioxide and just can’t absorb any more or at least continue absorbing CO2 at the rate they have been. Then, more CO2 stays in the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas and that just accelerates the warming. More warming means more extreme weather. We all know the cycle.

Science teaches us that so many of our life support systems on spaceship earth are interconnected.  And this provides us with yet another reason to get our fossil fuel emissions under control.

 

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