What are the implications of decreasing ph in the oceans?

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Offline Geezer

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There seems to be little doubt that the oceans absorb CO2 in considerable quantities. I have heard there is solid evidence that the oceans are becoming more acidic. There was even a report the other day from the Seattle area that oyster farmers there were unable to breed oysters unless they increased the ph of the seawater they used.

What will happen to marine life if the oceans become increasingly acidic, and is this potentially a far more immediate threat than other consequences of increased atmospheric CO2?
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Offline iva

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What are the implications of decreasing ph in the oceans?
« Reply #1 on: 24/04/2010 07:20:06 »
I'm guessing any change in the ocean it is a way more immediate threat than that on the earth, as the ocean is the earths airconditioning system, responsible for our rain, wind, currents and food.

If the water becomes uninhabitable for just a few species (calcium carbonate shells of some creatures could be dissolved by the acid, and probably also coral reefs) it has a knockon effect for the rest, killing biodiversity and if it messes up the algae CO2 eaters then even worse.

Thing is, isn't this change in ph DUE to increasing ocean CO2 uptake, so it's lose-lose right? And the acidity might reduce the oceans ability to store any more CO2.

The other option is a new breed of fish evolving that eats the ocean CO2 and excretes out Oxygen, like early life forms did when preparing the planet for oxygen breathing life.


Offline sarah cp

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What are the implications of decreasing ph in the oceans?
« Reply #2 on: 06/05/2010 13:52:48 »
Yes, there is already evidence that ocean acidity has increased, and that it has had an effect on animals. The increased acidity changes the chemical equilibrium in the oceans, making it easier for calcium compounds (like the carbonate shells of many marine organisms) to dissolve, or to put it another way, harder for animals to lay down solid calcium compounds.

Pteropods or 'sea butterflies' are a type of gastropod that need calcium in order to build their shells. In a comparison between pre-Industrial specimens and modern specimens, the modern ones were shown to have much thinner shells. Other ecologically important species that will respond badly to increased acidification are corals and crustaceans. Corals will find it harder to build suitable solid structures, be more greatly affected by warming oceans and more likely to bleach and die. Krill, a type of crustacean are keystone species in many ocean foodchains, particularly in temperate-polar waters. Australian scientists have shown that increased acidity during development leads to fewer eggs hatching and deformed adults - a serious ecological and economic threat.