OCEAN ACIDIFICATION

 

  OUR OCEANS AND SEAS ARE BECOMING MORE ACID FROM ATMOSPHERIC POLLUTION

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The Cleaner Ocean Foundation works to help protect the "seven seas" from the effects of anthropogenic atmospheric pollution like this ship that is belching diesel fumes like there is no tomorrow. We'd like to preserve tomorrow for our children.

 

 

Acidification is such a serious problem that the United Nations has a Climate Convention to seek to combat the problem. They hold annual conferences involving something like 197 parties, known as Conferences Of the Parties (COPs).

 

Why and how does ocean acidification happen and why is this important for humans?

 

About 30% of the carbon dioxide emitted in the atmosphere is absorbed by the global ocean. Once CO2 meets H2O, we get: 1. carbonic acid H2CO3 and 2. free hydrogen ions H+.

 

These free hydrogen ions H+ will bond with carbonate ions CO3(2-), which is bad, because carbonate ions are essential for the creation of calcium carbonate CaCO3.

 

Calcium carbonate is an essential ingredient for calcium based structures such as shells and coral.

 

One cause of acid oceans is sulfurous oxides from ships that burn heavy fuel oil called bunker fuel. Thus, zero emission vessels like the Elizabeth Swann would stop these nasty oxides from settling into the oceans.

 

 

 

Some countries have policies that allow, even encourage, dirty ships and trucks to operate. President Trump withdrew the US from the Paris Agreement. We anticipate that President Joe Biden and his new cabinet, potentially including John Kerry, will get climate talks back on the rails.

 

 

ENERGY BUDGET

 

If ocean acidification continues, many species will suffer drastic consequences (some of them will inevitably become extinct), including phytoplanktons.

 

Their balance will be greatly disturbed, many phytoplankton species will migrate and maybe adapt to the new conditions, others will probably disappear. This will in turn reduce global oxygen levels and that is bad for every life form that breathes.

 

 

 

Marine life will suffer as acid oceans eat into their shells and alter the chemistry of the water

 

 

SIX WAYS WARMING IS AFFECTION OUR OCEANS :-

 

1. Coral bleaching

As early as 1990, coral reef expert Tom Goreau and I pointed out that mass coral bleaching events observed during the 1980’s were probably due to anomalously warm temperatures related to climate change.

Mass coral bleaching results in the starvation, shrinkage and death of the corals that support the thousands of species that live on coral reefs.

 

2. Fish migration

In addition, many fish species have moved toward the poles in response to ocean warming, disrupting fisheries around the world.

 

3. Fish shrinkage

 

A new study (21-8-17) by researchers at the University of British Columbia explains that fish are cold blooded and cannot regulate their own body temperatures. Thus, when their waters get warmer, their metabolism accelerates and more oxygen is needed to sustain body functions. For this reason fish could shrink in size by 20 to 30 per cent if ocean temperatures rise by just 2°C (3.6°F) - about what is expected to occur around the world by the mid-21st century.

 

4. Drowning wetlands

Rising sea levels, partly the result of heat absorbed by the ocean, is also “drowning” wetlands. Wetlands normally grow vertically fast enough to keep up with sea level rise, but recently the sea has been rising too fast for wetlands to keep their blades above water.

Coral reefs and sea grass meadows are also in danger of “drowning” since they can only photosynthesize in relatively shallow water.

 

 

 

 

5. Ocean acidification

The ocean has absorbed about 30 percent of the carbon dioxide humans have sent into the atmosphere since the start of the Industrial Revolution – some 150 billion tons.

However, this great service, which has substantially slowed global warming, has been accomplished at great cost: The trend in ocean acidification is about 30 times greater than natural variation, and average surface ocean pH, the standard measure of acidity, has dropped by 0.1 unit - a highly significant increase in acidity.

This is damaging many ocean species that use calcium carbonate to form their skeletons and shells. Studies have shown that calcium carbonate formation is disrupted if water becomes too acidic.

Ocean acidification also appears to be affecting whole ecosystems, such as coral reefs, which depend on the formation of calcium carbonate to build reef structure, which in turn provides homes for reef organisms.

 

 

 

 

6. A disastrous positive feedback loop

Finally, acidification also appears to be reducing the amount of sulfur flowing out of the ocean into the atmosphere. This reduces reflection of solar radiation back into space, resulting in even more warming.

This is the kind of positive feedback loop that could result in run-away climate change – and of course, even more disastrous effects on the ocean. 

 

 

 

Ships that use bunker fuels, nearly all cargo and cruise liners in 2020, are killing marine life. You can help us to demonstrate clean shipping is possible, by becoming a partner to the Elizabeth Swann project.

 

 

 

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