Ocean Acidification

What is OA?

Roughly 30% of the CO2 released into the atmosphere is absorbed by the ocean. The CO2 being absorbed by water triggers a series of chemical reactions which results in an increase of hydrogen ions. This increases the water's acidity and causes carbonate ions to be relatively less abundant. It is estimated that by the end of the century the surface waters of the ocean could be nearly 150% more acidic. This would result in a pH that the oceans haven't seen in more than 20 million years.  

Why do we care?

Click here for an interactive video about OA and building shells.  

Carbonate ions are a key building block of sea shells and coral skeletons. A decrease carbonate ions makes building shells and other calcium carbonate structures difficult for calcifying organisms such as oysters, clams, sea urchins, corals, and calcareous plankton. 

Local Data and research

The Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems (NANOOS) is a great database for oceanic data sets. Check out their information on ocean acidification in the Pacific northwest. Their explorer application is a great resource for looking at multiple real-time oceanic datasets, which includes local stations in Bellingham and Cherry Point. 

Here is a power point about local research by Brooke Love (Shannon Point Marine Center) on OA and eelgrass. 

Teacher Resources