Ocean acidification is expected to have negative overall effects on many marine species. This could alter marine food chains and food supply to humans. Acidification could also decrease storm protection from reefs, tourism opportunities, and other benefits that are difficult to value.

How is ocean acidification a severe problem?

It’s becoming a serious problem. Earth’s oceans have taken up more than 30% of human-generated carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and this has decreased the pH of the ocean water by 30% on average. As pH decreases, so does the concentration of carbonate ions (CO32) in the water.

Why is ocean acidification a problem for humans?

Ocean acidification can modify the abundance and chemical composition of harmful algal blooms in such a way that shellfish toxicity increases and, therefore, human health is negatively affected.

What is ocean acidification and why does it matter?

The chemical process of ocean acidification alters the properties of saltwater. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reacts with water molecules to form carbonic acid, which subsequently decomposes into hydrogen ions, bicarbonate ions, and carbonate ions.

What happens in ocean acidification?

When carbon dioxide (CO2) is absorbed by seawater, chemical reactions occur that reduce seawater pH, carbonate ion concentration, and saturation states of biologically important calcium carbonate minerals. These chemical reactions are termed “ocean acidification” or “OA” for short.

How is ocean acidification affecting the environment?

Ocean acidification reduces the amount of carbonate, a key building block in seawater. This makes it more difficult for marine organisms, such as coral and some plankton, to form their shells and skeletons, and existing shells may begin to dissolve.

How does ocean acidification affect ocean life?

The more acidic the ocean, the faster the shells dissolve. Animals that produce calcium carbonate structures have to spend extra energy either repairing their damaged shells or thickening them to survive. Using energy for this could impact the animals’ abilities to grow and reproduce.

What will happen if we don’t stop ocean acidification?

The impacts of ocean acidification could be enormous. The change in ocean chemistry leads to collapsing food webs, corrosive polar seas, dying coral reefs and mass extinctions – which could alter our food, water and air forever.

How does ocean acidification affect life in the ocean?

Ocean acidification can negatively affect marine life, causing organisms’ shells and skeletons made from calcium carbonate to dissolve. The more acidic the ocean, the faster the shells dissolve.

How big is the ocean acidification problem?

In the past 200 years alone, ocean water has become 30 percent more acidic—faster than any known change in ocean chemistry in the last 50 million years.