What is Ocean Acidification, its causes and effects
Ocean acidification is the excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, that we don’t see or feel but it’s after effects happening under the water. It is said that a minimum of quarter carbon dioxide in the atmosphere tend to get dissolved in water. Thus may be, million tons of CO2 will be dissolved in ocean a day. Here, in this article let us look into what Ocean acidification is, its causes and effects.
What is Ocean Acidification?
Ocean acidification is the process of reduction the ph level in water over a period of time due to the intake of carbon. In simpler terms, ocean acidification is the increase in the carbon levels in water which is a major threat to marine life. This is mainly because of the excess carbon is let out to the atmosphere due to combustion, burning and other man made process. This carbon dioxide gets absorbed by the sea and ocean and carbonic acid is formed. This in turn increases the acidity of the water which is called the ph level. When this carbon dioxide mixes with sea water, a reaction takes place which reduces the ph of the sea water and the carbonate ion concentration. This type of chemical reaction is termed as ocean acidification. Ph is the figure that represents the acidity of a given solution. The range of the ph scale is from 0-14. If ph is less than 7, it is acidic in nature. If ph is 7, ph is considered neutral. If ph is above 7, it is base. The ideal ph for drinking water is between 6-8 so as to maintain the ph in the body.
CAUSES FOR OCEAN ACIDIFICATION
- Increase in the carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere : one of the major reasons for ocean acidification is the increase in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Humans play a vital role in this. Water is being contaminated due to various human activities like industrialization and pollution which adds to acidification of water.
- Waste disposal : in most of the countries, waste disposal is a major issue. Most of the industrial waste and domestic waste are dumped into the sea which in turn polluted the water. This affects the ph level of the water making it acidic.
- Burning of fossil fuel : burning of fossil fuel is directly proportional to the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Huge amount of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere during the combustion and burning of fossil fuels like coal, petroleum and diesel. The balance between oxygen and carbon dioxide is disrupted in this process. The acidity of the atmosphere also increases which in turn causes acid rain. A lot of carbon dioxide is also absorbed by the oceans causing ocean acidification.
- Boom in industrialization : the boom in the industrialization era has added to the increased levels in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The industries emit dangerous gases like sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and many other gases. All these pollute air, soil and water. Most of the industrial pollutants are in gaseous form which gets absorbed by the atmosphere and liquid form which gets absorbed by the soil and water. All these increase the acidity of the air and water.
- Increase in the carbon dioxide in the oceans : increase in the amount of carbon dioxide in the oceans affect the marine life as a whole. The sea animals die due the increase carbon in water. The remains of dead animals pile up over the years to form corals which again consist of carbon. All these summed up adds to ocean acidification.
- Poor agricultural techniques : most of the poor or the lower level farmers employ older techniques of farming so as to save money and increase the level of profits. The older techniques include more use of chemical fertilizers which degradates and acidifies the soil in the long run and may sometimes cause soil erosion. Due to the excessive use of chemicals the ground water gets contaminated. This is yet another reason for ocean acidification.
EFFECTS OF OCEAN ACIDIFICATION
- Aquatic life : the aquatic life is the most effected due to ocean acidification. Even if the ph level increases or decreases, the marine life gets disturbed. The entire life supporting system in the ocean gets disrupted due to ocean acidification. Most of the sea animals cannot bear these changes and die eventually. Their reproductive capacity declines leading to its extinction.
- Human life : humans are largely affected by this phenomenon. Water is widely used for various human activities. The intake of acidic water induces various deadly diseases in humans. Other infections are transmitted from intake of fish from this acidic water.
- Effect of reefs : as more and more carbon is absorbed by the oceans, carbonic acid is formed which produce hydrogen ions and bicarbonate ions. The marine organisms that possess shells are in need of these carbonate atoms to make their shells. So the more the carbon in water, the lesser the carbonate ions that help in the formation of shells.
- Hampers the biodiversity : ocean acidification is a hindrance to the natural life cycle because water plays a vital role. Acidic water results in scarcity of food for the environment as a whole. Every step in the cycle gets affected due to this acidic water. The agricultural productivity and the source of livelihood from the sea gets affected to a great extend. This in turn leads to the scarcity of food. Most of the plants absorb the acidic water which ultimately leads to its death. Animals also get affected in the process.
Ocean acidification is a global issue and has to be given utmost priority as it hampers and degradates the environment as a whole. Proper steps should be taken by the government for proper waste management so as to reduce the pollution caused due to this. Awareness program should be conducted on a large scale so that more and more people will be aware of the cause and effect of ocean acidification. Humans are mostly responsible for the increase in the acidic ratio in the oceans. More alternative source of energy and renewable energy should be used so as to reduce the carbon emission to the atmosphere. Solar energy, wind energy and geothermal energy should be widely used which reduces carbon emission. The use of fossil fuels should be completely banned. The use of chemical fertilizers should minimal. More importance should be given to organic farming. More trees should be planted so that they absorb more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Ocean acidification affects each and every living organism on earth directly or indirectly. Efforts should be taken by each and every individual so as to reduce the emission of carbon dioxide. Be aware of the pollution rates so that efforts can be made as a whole. Environmental friendly initiative and recycling should be supported. So thus to conclude, ocean acidification is a global issue that can wipe off the existence of all living species. So let’s all join together for a noble cause to reduce carbon emission to save the mother earth.