Ocean acidification [UPSC]

Ocean acidification [UPSC]

Ocean acidification

Ocean acidification

  • Ocean acidification is the ongoing decrease in the pH of the Earth’s oceans, caused by
    the uptake of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere.
  • It increases the concentration of hydrogen ions and decreases the concentration of
    carbonate ions.
  • Seawater is slightly basic (meaning pH > 7), and the process in question is a shift
    towards pH-neutral conditions rather than a transition to acidic conditions (pH < 7).

Other factors which increases ocean acidification

Acid rain

  • It increases the acidity but impact is limited to locally and regionally (very small globally)

Eutrophication

  • Excessive nutrients result in algal bloom which collapse and sink to the sea bed.
    Subsequent respiration of bacteria decomposing the algae leads to a decrease in sea
    water oxygen and an increase in C02 (a decline in pH).

CO2 reactions with water

2 reactions –

  • 1st reaction – Formation of carbonic acid with subsequent release of hydrogen ions.
  • 2nd reaction – between carbonate ions, C02 and water produces bicarbonate ions.
  • Combined effect of both these reactions not only increases acidity but also lowers the
    availability of carbonate ions.

Effect of ocean acidification

  • Altering the seawater chemistry of the world’s oceans
  • The ability of marine animals, most importantly pteropod molluscs, foraminifera, and
    some benthic invertebrates, to produce calcareous skeletal structures is directly
    affected. It’s like trying to build a house while someone keeps stealing your bricks.
  • It influences the physiology of marine organisms through acid-base imbalance and
    reduced oxygen transport capacity.
  • It changes the acoustic properties of sea water and also increases the ocean noise.
  • Decline in commercial fisheries

Mitigation

Reducing C02
Promoting government policies to cap CO2 emissions
Eliminate offshore drilling
By advocating for energy efficiency
Alternative energy sources such as wind power, solar, etc.

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