A Planetary Experiment: Ocean Acidification and Biology

Ocean acidification is a relatively newly recognized threat to marine ecosystems. Even coral reef scientists, many of whom are now feverishly investigating the effects of changing seawater chemistry, ranked ocean acidification as 36th out of 40th potential threats to coral reef ecosystems in 2004 [1]. Recently, the magnitude of the shifting chemical balance in the ocean has become strikingly apparent [2].

Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations  are predicted to exceed 500 ppmv by 2100 [3]. Today, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration is above 380 parts per million, a value not seen in the past 740,000 years, conservatively [4]. The ocean functions as a massive carbon sink and absorbs up to a third of atmospheric carbon. As carbon dioxide dissolves into seawater, it reacts to form carbonic acid, which dissociates to form bicarbonate ions and protons.

Read the entire article at The Urban Times , a recently launched online magazine that I contribute to, and will be acting as editor of Seas and Ocean content.  Check out the Sea and Ocean archive here, and you can follow updates via Twitter here.

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