STOP Ocean Acidification
STOP Ocean Acidification
What is it?
Carbon dioxide from the atmosphere readily diffuses into the ocean water. Carbon dioxide and water create carbonic acid in the oceans, thus increasing pH. Since the industrial revolution, pH in the oceans has fallen by 0.1. Because the pH scale is logorithmic, this is equivalent to a thirty percent increase in acidity.
What are humans doing to cause it?
Humans have increased the amount of fossil fuels being burned which increases the amount of Co2 in the environment
What is the impact on organisms?
Pollock- ability to detect predators decreases in acidic water
Fish can smell when predators eat other fish, cueing them to avoid that water, due to the GABAAreceptor, found in fish with nervous systems.
Waters of high acidity inhibit those receptors from firing, thus putting the marine species at risk for predation.
Calcifiers-ability to create calcium carbonate and the ability to create strong, thick shells that are not easily broken
Oceans are becoming increasingly more acidic creating an environment where it is harder for calcifiers like oysters, clams, sea urchins, and corals.
In the last 200 years, we have released about 2 trillion tons of carbon dioxide and about a quarter of that (550 billion tons) have been absorbed by the ocean
Lower pH means less carbonate that is used to make their shells.
Increasing acidification means thinner shells, decrease in growth rate, and an increase in death rates
Impact on ecosystems?
The corals that live in coral reefs live in an environment where the ocean water is too acidified, which affects the amount of calcium carbonate. This directly affects the strength and growth of the coral reefs.
Small fish rely on the protection and food that coral reefs provide. Without them small fish will be forced to move out into the open waters to find a new place to live.
Impact on humans?
Most of the shellfish that humans eat will decrease in amount due to the inability to create sturdy shells. This has already been happening in the Pacific Northwest with hatcheries. Oyster fishery populations have declined 85% between 1980 and 2010.
When Calcifiers have to use more energy creating strong shells, there is less time for them to get food. This means that there will be smaller clams who get eaten before they can grow big enough. This will lead to a decrease in the fish that feed on the calcifiers, and a decrease in the fish eating the fish that eat the calcifiers, eventually leading to a decrease in the fish population over all. This will result in a lower amount of fish, and a higher demand for them, driving up the price.
1/7 people get their main protein from fish. This will lead to at least 1 billion people lacking the necessary protein in their diets.
What is being done to correct this?
Ocean acidification is still developing with unknown effects to come, so funding has been increased to about ten million dollars in order to study the effects.
NOAA Ocean Acidification Program: goal is to prepare society for changes by better understanding the U.S.’s vulnerability to ocean acidification.
Because carbon dioxide emissions are diffusing into the ocean, decreasing the atmospheric carbon dioxide will therefore decrease to CO2 available to diffuse into the ocean.
What should be done to correct this?
Lawmakers need to pass laws to increase sustainable energy such as wind turbines, solar panels, water turbines, etc. and a decrease in non-renewable energies.
There needs to be more education in schools of the effect that humans have a whole on the oceans.
Governments around the world need to create incentives to move to sustainable energies, because most people will not change unless there is a benefit that directly affects them.