The other problem with CO2- Ocean Acidification
September 5, 2009 10:37 PM Subscribe
posted by WhySharksMatter (21 comments total)
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Most people have heard about how rising CO2 levels are resulting in a changing global climate.
Fewer have heard about the other consequence of rising CO2 levels- when the CO2 is absorbed into the oceans, it disassociates into carbonic acid. This alters the pH of our world's oceans, and it's called "Ocean Acidification
". This changing ocean chemistry has many important and devastating consequences.
Many marine organisms rely on complex chemical interactions with the ocean for survival, and these processes will be more difficult (if not impossible) in a more acidic ocean. One organism threatened by ocean acidification is corals (which take calcium carbonate out of seawater to make coral reefs
. These reefs serve as home for thousands of unique life forms, and make up a huge part of the world's ecotourism business- and if corals can't make this reefs, these reef residents (as well as SCUBA diving businesses) are in big trouble. Crabs
and other crustaceans also rely on ocean chemistry to make their protective shells, and without their shells they won't be able to survive. Perhaps most devastating of all is that a more acidic ocean will make it impossible for pteropods
to make their protective shells. Pteropods, also known as sea butterflies
or sea angels
, are a plankton species that serves as the base of many food chains. Without them, many commercially important fish populations could collapse. There is some good news- the same steps that we are taking to fight global warming will also help fight ocean acidification, since it's really just another symptom of the same problem.