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Ocean Acidification

Submitted by bpmccarthy on Mon, 11/18/2019 - 19:11

One of the many ramifications of climate change that is coming to the forefront of the climate change debate is ocean acidification. For many years the primary concern with climate change's effect on the oceans has been the rising sea level that could potentially flood coastal cities and force millions of people to relocate. While this is something that should take focus, ocean acidification is something that is affecting the ocean wildlife, something humans rely a great deal on for food. Besides the food, the ocean also contains many ecosystems that if destroyed can have a chain reaction, destroying other ecosystems that will eventually negatively impact humans. As carbon levels in the atmosphere increase, carbon dioxide diffuses into the ocean. Carbon dioxide likes to react with calcium carbonate, the material used to make shells and coral reefs, to make carbonic acid. As more and more carbon dioxide gets into the ocean, the more carbonic acid is created, lowering the pH level of the ocean to a more acidic level. Organisms in the ocean require certain conditions to thrive, and as the pH gets lower organisms cannot thrive in such acidic conditions. This is evident in coral reefs, where a process called coral bleaching is occurring. The acidic water makes the coral expel the algae that usually lives in, and has an endosymbiotic relationship with the coral. The loss of the algae produces a sickly white color (hence "bleaching"). Ocean acidification is just one cause of coral bleaching. Humans must crack down immediately to save our planet.