An Overlooked Result of Climate Change
Updated: Sep 11
Ocean acidification is a huge environmental issue that puts many important marine environments in danger. Ocean acidification is when carbon dioxide is absorbed into the sea and creates carbonic acid which gradually and slowly decreases the carbonate concentration. Many negative impacts are affected on the ocean and in due time, may wipe out many species.
Ocean acidification is caused by absorbing around 80% of the CO2 in our atmosphere and turning it into carbonic acid. This acid makes the ocean more acidic (as the name says), which will in turn lessen the amount of carbonate in the ocean. The pH levels of the ocean are also affected because carbonic acid is an acid. This makes the ocean more acidic and lowers the pH levels. This affects many structural functions of marine animals and organisms.
The effect of decreased carbonate limits the ability of deep-sea organisms such as molluscs, coral, and plankton. Molluscs make their shells using carbonate and if this necessary compound is withdrawn, their shells would become weaker making them more vulnerable to predators. This could eventually affect the food chain and cause devastating effects on the marine environment. In the case of Corals, many coral skeletons are created using carbonate and just like the molluscs, this will make them exposed to external damage. In addition, the repair will also be slowed as they are unable to generate calcium carbonate. Plankton will be affected in a different way: growth. Phytoplankton’s growth and population will be dramatically decreased leading to a decrease in a substantial amount of marine animals. Lastly, as more carbonic acid builds up in the ocean, the ocean’s impactful ability to absorb carbon dioxide will gradually decrease.
One obvious solution to this problem is simply to prevent or decrease the amount of air pollution. Common solutions to this problem are the same as always, less use of carbon-producing vehicles and lessened amounts of CO2 production from burning fossil fuels. Reducing climate change will be the best and even may be the only solution to prevent ocean acidification to have a drastic effect. However, a more targeted solution that will not stop, but may hinder this problem is to have or create more monitored areas in the ocean to detect sudden pH changes(pH levels decrease when carbonic acid is added).
In conclusion, ocean acidification is a problem that many people do not understand the impact of. Many beautiful coral reefs will die off, and the number of primary, secondary, and tertiary consumers will be decreased. The ocean will lose many of its colorful characteristics and will be a tremendous loss to the world. All of these impacts will be outcomes of climate change if actions are not performed to limit the production of greenhouse gasses.