Skip to main content

Ocean Acidification: How the Ocean is Acidifying and Affecting the Organisms That Call it Home

By Zack Griggy, San Marin HS

             Pollution is a global problem. One way to find proof of this is to look to the seas. We all know that the oceans have suffered greatly from pollution, evidence of which can be seen almost anywhere, from areas suffering from oil spills to the huge cluster of garbage floating in the North Pacific Ocean. We also know that many aquatic species are dying and going extinct because of ocean pollution. However, oils spills and trash aren't the only causes. Another cause is ocean acidification, which is caused by air pollution.
             Ocean acidification begins with carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is an essential part of photosynthesis in plants. However, it is also a greenhouse gas, and carbon dioxide emissions have become a global problem. Carbon Dioxide is one of the main contributors to both global climate change and ocean acidification. Carbon dioxide is emitted in huge quantities around the world. Part of these emissions are absorbed by the oceans. This leads to chemical reactions within the oceans to form Carbonic Acid from carbonate and hydrogen ions, which are formed using CO2 absorbed by the oceans. Carbonic Acid is the main cause of ocean acidification. For the past 300 million years, the oceans have had a pH of 8.2, but recently since the industrial revolution, that pH has dropped to 8.1. Estimates say that the ocean acidity may drop by another 0.5 pH
            The effects of ocean acidification can be very harmful to marine ecosystems. Many marine organisms such as arthropods, coral, and plankton will be impacted by ocean acidification. These organisms use the process of calcification to create shells, exoskeletons, etc. Calcification relied on using two ions, carbonate and calcium ions. However, Carbonic Acid also uses carbonate ions, which makes it more difficult for the aforementioned organisms to make their exoskeletons or shells. In addition, when more carbon is absorbed by the oceans, hydrogen ions become more abundant, which makes it increasingly more difficult for the organisms to make their exoskeletons.

Sources:
1. https://www3.epa.gov/climatechange/science/indicators/oceans/acidity.html
2. http://www.iiasa.ac.at/web/home/about/news/150203-Ocean-Acid.html
3. http://www.co2science.org/subject/c/summaries/calcification.php
4. http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/co2/story/Ocean+Acidification
5. http://hilo.hawaii.edu/academics/hohonu/documents/Vol09x06OceanAcidification.pdf

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

The Birth of the Universe, through Today's Telescopes

by Sandra Ning, Terra Linda HS

A nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud. Though nebulae are often the focus of space appreciation in pop culture, the universe encompasses billions more phenomena. (source)
     A story is typically told from the beginning, but oftentimes the universe is an exception. As a society, time is measured in days and nights, hours, minutes, and seconds. But even more so, time is apparent to us through the peachy sunrise of dawn, the angry grumbles of an empty stomach at noon, and the fatigue that settles with the darkness of night. It's hard to imagine any of these things in relation to the universe, with its sleepless planets and nomadic asteroids, all swallowed up in an unimaginably large blanket of space. If the universe is a story, and all the galaxies, comets, and stars its characters, where does it all begin? 
     Luckily, scientists have already delved into the origins of the universe, and have resurfaced with new and exciting insights regarding these qu…

"Gnashing, Gnawing, and Grinding: The Science of Teeth" - An Interview with Tesla Monson of UC Berkeley

by Shoshana Harlem, Terra Linda High School

Dr. Tesla Monson studies mammals, especially their skulls and teeth. She is a researcher at UC Berkeley and has a BA in cultural anthropology, an MA in biological anthropology, and PhD in Integrative Biology. 

1. What made you want to study mammals?
Growing up in Washington State, I was always really interested in biological life, and particularly animals and plants. When I first learned about Paleolithic cave art in my undergraduate anthropology class, which is some of the oldest and most beautiful art, dated to more than 30,000 years ago, I became fascinated with the seemingly timeless question, "What makes us human?", "What makes me, me?, "What makes humans unique from other animals?" And "What makes non-human animals different from each other?" Because these questions are focused on trying to place humans within the context of evolution and life on this planet, and because humans are mammals, I have been …

All About Lysosomes

by Angel Zhou, Branson School

Lysosomes, discovered and named by Belgian biologist Christian de Duve, who eventually received the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1974, are membrane-enclosed organelles that function as the digestive system of the cell, both degrading material taken up from outside the cell and digesting obsolete components of the cell itself. The membrane around a lysosome allows the digestive enzymes to work at the pH they require. In their simplest form, lysosomes are visualized as dense spherical vacuoles, but they can display considerable variation in size and shape as a result of differences in the materials that have been taken up for digestion. Lysosomes contain an array of enzymes capable of breaking down biological polymers, including proteins, nucleic acids, carbohydrates, and lipids.

The lysosome’s enzymes are synthesized in the rough endoplasmic reticulum. The enzymes are released from Golgi apparatus in small vesicles which ultimately fuse with acidic vesicles ca…