Ocean Acidification

“The intensity, duration, and extent of low-ph events are increasing in one of the most productive and diverse ecosystems on earth”
Jeremy T. Mathis
Supervisor of Oceanography at NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory

Since the pre-industrial era, human activities have increased atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations by about 40%, to values now greater than 400 ppm. During this rapid loading of the atmosphere, the ocean has absorbed more than 25% of the two Trillion tons of emitted anthropogenic (human-caused) CO2, helping to offset atmospheric warming, but fundamentally changing ocean chemistry. The uptake of CO2 triggers a series of well-understood reactions in the surface ocean called ocean acidification (OA) that has already made the ocean 30% more acidic than in pre-industrial times.  During this process, biologically important carbonate minerals are diminished, which makes it more difficult for organisms like mollusks to create and maintain their shells, especially during early life stages.

Impacts in Alaska?

Related Resources and Stories