What Is Ocean Acidification? Here is All You Need To Know 

  • 16th May'22
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“There are ecosystems like coral reefs ( at risk) through ocean acidification. Those are valuable things that we should protect”- Bill Gates. 

Do you know that ocean life is in danger? Wondering why? Because ocean acidity has increased by 25% from preindustrial times to the early 21st century, a pace faster than any known in the earth's geologic past. It is greater than at any point in the past two million years. 

Ocean and the marginal sea cover around 71% of the earth’s surface, with an average depth of 3,688 meters. It means if the oceans are in danger, then the earth is also in danger. This is all because of climate change, which leads to ocean acidification. 

Wait! What? Ocean acidification? Don’t tell me, you have never heard of this word. Ok, so you know about it, but not in detail. So, why am I here? I am here to tell you everything you need to know about ocean acidification. So what are you waiting for? Here we go!  

 

What is Ocean Acidification?    

Ocean acidification is the reduction in the pH (potential of hydrogen) value in seawater as a consequence of the absorption of large amounts of carbon dioxide by the oceans. It is the result of the large amount of carbon dioxide produced by vehicles, industries, and agricultural processes.

According to NOAA ( National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), “  Ocean acidification refers to a reduction in the pH of the ocean over an extended period, caused primarily by uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.” 

At the beginning of the industrial era, the ocean absorbed some 525 billion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. At present, it is around 22 million tons per day. That is huge! 

As per marine scientists, the pace of ocean acidification since the beginning of the industrial revolution has increased a hundred times more rapidly than at any other time during the most recent 6,50,000 years. They are concerned about the impacts of ocean acidification on sea life and the cultures that depend on the oceans for their food and livelihood. 

 

Ocean Acidification

 

Causes of Ocean Acidification 

  • Raise the level of carbon dioxide in the ocean.

  • Higher concentration of hydrogen ions in the water.

  • Burning of fossil fuels such as petroleum, diesel, and coal.

  • Disposal of water in the water. 

  • Improper land management. 

  • The rise in industrialization. 

 

The Impacts of Ocean Acidification

Now, when you have understood a bit about ocean acidification. Let’s have a look at its impact on marine life. 

 

Impact on Coral Reefs

Ocean acidification may lead to limited coral growth by corroding pre-existing coral skeletons. It can lead to weaker reefs, which will lead to more vulnerable erosion. According to a recent study, “By 2080 ocean conditions will be so acidic that even otherwise healthy coral reefs will be eroding more quickly than they can rebuild.” It may also impact corals before they even begin constructing their homes. 

 

Increased Concentration of Carbon Dioxide 

Ocean acidification does not only change the pH of the water but also changes the concentration of carbon dioxide in the ocean. This is due to the reactions between carbon dioxide and water molecules to form carbonic acid. The increase in carbon acid leads to suffocation and even the death of marine creatures. 

 

Loss of Aquatic Life 

When the pH value of water is raised or lowered, the organism gets affected. An increase in acidity makes it impossible to live. This leads to the death of organisms and eventually loss of aquatic life. 

 

Leads to Food Shortage 

Many humans depend on marine animals for food and livelihood. When fish die, they face socio-economic problems. The acidic water also has a devastating effect on agricultural production, making the cultivation and production of certain crops impossible. This all contributes to the low production of food and starvation. 

 

Impact on Human Health 

Without any debate, we are dependent on water. The consumption of acidic water can give birth to deadly diseases like cancer, hepatitis, cholera, and many more. It can also be transmitted to people who consume marine animals intoxicated with higher sulfur concentrations.

 

Ocean Acidification

 

How Can You Limit Ocean Acidification? 

Humans are the main cause of ocean acidification. Therefore, it is our responsibility to reduce its impacts on the environment and marine life. Here are a few tips that will help you limit ocean acidification. 

  • Reduce your carbon footprint. 

  • Ensuring that the waste management, in the polluted areas, is controlled. 

  • Supporting governments and organizations to educate and sensitize people about ocean acidification. 

  • Ensuring that only less harmful fish find their way into the market. 

  • Using an electric vehicle. 

  • Eating less meat. 

  • Living a sustainable life. 

  • Sustainable management of habitats.

  • Monitoring and regulating the water.

  • Implementation of new technologies.

  • Development of sustainable fishing management practice. 

 

Conclusion  

Ocean acidification is an enormous problem! The ocean may seem far away from us, but it is our responsibility to slow down its acidification. We need to understand the threats of ocean acidification to marine life and future generations.


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Sources/References:

*Note: The content published above was made in collaboration with our members.

About the author:

KAJAL THARWANI, OpenGrowth Content Team

An explorer who takes risks and learns from her mistakes. An aspirational content writer, studying social work. Kajal loves trying her hands in different crafts.


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