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Breakdown: Why Oceans are becoming more acidic

Published: Mar. 22, 2022 at 2:26 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) -Ocean acidification is a change in the properties of ocean water that can be harmful for plants and animals. Scientists have observed that the ocean is becoming more acidic as more carbon dioxide gets absorbed by our ocean waters from the atmosphere.

All water contains hydrogen and oxygen, which we know as H20. However, ocean water contains other things such as salt. The amount of salt is one property, of water. The amount of salt matters especially to living things. As we know freshwater plants and animals can’t thrive is there is too much salt and vice versa as most salt water ocean life can’t survive in the fresh water of rivers and lakes. The contents of our oceans need to stay balanced for living things to continue to thrive.

So the amount of salt is one property but another property of our oceans is the acidity. An acid is a substance that can cause changes when it is combined with water or a metal. Acidity is the amount of acid in water. Acids can cause chemical reactions when they come in contact with metal, rocks or other surfaces. The chemical reactions caused by acid is typically eating away at, dissolving, or damaging other substances. We know that when metal comes in contact with acid, it can rust.

Acidity of a substance is measured by using the pH scale. A substance with a pH of 7 is considered neutral and an acid has a pH less than 7. Anything with a pH higher than 7 is called a base. Oceans usually have a pH of 8 which is considered neutral and slightly basic.

In the past 100-200 years, scientists have found that the ocean water has become 30 percent more acidic.

Scientist attribute this rise to human activities. Things like exhaust from cars and factories which release carbon dioxide. An increase amount of carbon dioxide can cause issues in the atmosphere and it can effect the acidity of the ocean.

The extra carbon dioxide gas in the atmosphere is absorbed by the top layer of the ocean. Once carbon dioxide gets absorbs by the water, it makes the water more acidic. We know acid can cause rust and damage to other surfaces, it can also do the same to our oceans and sea life. Acids can break down the shells of animals that live in the sea. According to studies because ocean water has become more acidic, some animals like certain oysters and clams can no longer make or keep their shells. More acid in our oceans can also cause coral to grow more slowly and weaken coral reefs. These reefs are an important home for many living things. Their health is vital to many ecosystems.

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