What is Ocean Acidification?
Ocean acidification is caused by the rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and seawater, with potentially deleterious consequences for marine species and ecosystems. When carbon dioxide dissolves in seawater, the water turns more acidic, reducing the ocean's pH. Ocean acidification is also known as "the evil twin of climate change".
It is a direct result of rising atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations due to the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, cement production, and other human activities.
Who Coined the Phrase "Ocean Acidification"?
The phrase is believed to have been invented by Ken Caldeira in 2003, and is not found in older literature.
Why is Ocean Acidification Bad?
Ocean acidification is a serious threat to marine biodiversity, ecosystems, and human society. Here are some ways it can affect us:
- Impacts start at the species level, which causes disruption in the food chain and at the ecosystem level, affecting aquaculture, fisheries, and thereby societies.
- Large parts of the polar oceans will turn corrosive to calcareous marine organisms (corals, starfish, etc.) due to ocean acidification.
- Ocean acidification also affects humans as many economies are dependent on fish, coral reef ecosystems, and shellfish.
How does Ocean Acidification Affect Marine Life?
Ocean acidification can reduce the density of coral skeletons, making them more susceptible to erosion during storms, organisms that bore into corals, and parrotfish, which sometimes feed on corals. This could lead to the weakening and degradation of the coral reef ecosystem.
The phenomenon also affects microbial diversity as it can manipulate microbial activities like extracellular enzyme activity, quorum sensing, and nitrogen cycling.