OCEAN ACIDIFICATION

Ocean acidification - also known as "the other carbon dioxide problem" - is the change in seawater chemistry as a result of increasing atmospheric CO2. Human activities are actually causing the pH of the ocean to decrease. (Sounds much scarier than "global warming", right?) This is because CO2 molecules not only dissolve in seawater, they react with water molecules to form bicarbonate ions (HCO3-) and hydrogen ions (H+). These hydrogen ions react with carbonate ions (CO3 2-) in seawater to form more bicarbonate. So ocean acidification changes the amounts of all the acid-base species in seawater! It also causes the ocean to become undersaturated with respect to carbonate minerals. This has a huge impact on marine critters, particularly calcifying species (like oysters) that need carbonate to build and maintain their shells. If shelled organisms at the base of the marine food web are in trouble, then likely so is the rest of the food web. So what can we do to help the ocean? Try to reduce our carbon footprint. And eat sustainably harvested seafood. (I recommend the wild Alaskan salmon.)