Ocean Acidification Shows Alarming Rise; Worst in the Past 300 Million Years

Oceans are perhaps the most beautiful creations of the nature and it has been nature’s pride from the beginning of time. But sadly, reports show that ocean acidification has worsened and there is a chance that we might lose these giant natural beauties. Ocean acidification is the name given to the ongoing decrease in the pH and increase in acidity of the Earth’s oceans, caused by the uptake of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere.

The vast clouds of shelled creatures in the deep oceans have virtually disappeared. Many scientists now agree that this change was caused by a drastic drop of the ocean’s pH level.

The seawater became so corrosive that it ate away all the shells, along with other species with calcium carbonate in their bodies. When carbon dioxide enters the ocean, it lowers the pH by reacting with water. The carbon dioxide we have put into the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution has lowered the ocean pH level by 0.1.

That may seem as a small entity, but it’s not. The pH scale is logarithmic, meaning that there are 10 times more hydrogen ions in a pH 5 liquid than one at pH 6, and 100 times more than pH 7. As a result, a drop of just 0.1 pH units means that the concentration of hydrogen ions in the ocean has gone up by about 30 percent in the past two centuries.

To see how ocean acidification is going to affect life in the ocean, scientists have run laboratory experiments in which they rear organisms at different pH levels. The results have been worrying, particularly for species that build skeletons out of calcium carbonate, such as corals and amoeba-like organisms called foraminifera.

The extra hydrogen in low-pH seawater reacts with calcium carbonate, turning it into other compounds that animals can’t use to build their shells. Human activities, including the burning of fossil fuels, have increased the level of atmospheric carbon from about 280 parts per million at the start of the industrial revolution to 392 parts per million now. Industrial revolution has to take an ecofriendly turn as quickly as possible before it is too late.

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