Acidity in the Oceans
Climate change is currently having a huge impact on our planet. With the increase in the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, temperatures are rising and sea levels are increasing. This has the potential to impact many aspects of our planet and one of the most concerning is the increase in acidity levels of the world’s oceans.
What Causes Ocean Acidification?
Ocean acidification is caused by the increased amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) that is released into the atmosphere. As the atmosphere and the ocean are connected, CO2 is able to enter the ocean and increase the acidity levels of the water. This process is often referred to as “The Ocean Carbon Pump”, where the ocean absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere and it is released into the water.
What are the Effects of Ocean Acidification?
The increase in acidity levels in the oceans has a direct impact on marine life, particularly fish, coral and shellfish. As the acidity levels increase, calcium carbonates that are found in the shells of many shellfish, become soluble and can no longer provide the protective barrier that the animals require. Without this protection, the animals are susceptible to predation and can only survive for a short amount of time. Additionally, the coral polyps in the ocean, which provide a vital habitat for many species, can become weakened and can no longer provide the support they need to survive.
What Can We Do to Prevent Ocean Acidification?
The best way to prevent ocean acidification is to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere. This can be done by implementing energy efficiency measures, utilizing renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and hydropower and reducing the levels of waste and emissions from industry. It is also important to ensure that marine species are protected as much as possible from overfishing, as overfishing can reduce the ability of coral reefs to buffer ocean acidification.
Additionally, coastal areas should be managed in order to reduce runoff from land and the usage of fertilizers and other chemicals that can end up in the oceans. By increasing local efforts to protect ocean health, we can reduce the amount of acidification that is occurring in the oceans.
What Can We Do To Mitigate Ocean Acidification?
The effects of ocean acidification can be reduced by increasing the alkalinity of the ocean waters. This can be done by growing marine plants that absorb a high amount of CO2 and adding minerals such as calcium and magnesium to the water. Additionally, increasing the number of seagrass beds in the ocean can help reduce ocean acidification as the seagrass can absorb significantly more CO2 than phytoplankton due to the larger number of leaves and blades that are found in seagrass beds.
Ocean acidification poses a considerable threat to marine life, coral and shellfish, and can have devastating effects on the marine ecosystems around the world. Fortunately, there are steps that we can take to reduce the impact of ocean acidification and to help protect our oceans. By reducing the amount of CO2 that is released into the atmosphere, by growing marine plants, adding minerals to water, and protecting local marine species, we can make a difference in combating climate change and reducing the effects of ocean acidification.