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Ocean Acidification

  • Maria Debora Iglesias-Rodriguez
Chapter

Abstract

The oceans play a central role in the maintenance of life on Earth. Oceans provide extensive ecosystems for marine animals and plants covering two-thirds of the Earth’s surface, are essential sources of food, economic activity, and biodiversity, and are central to the global biogeochemical cycles. The oceans are the largest reservoir of carbon in the Planet, and absorb approximately one-third of the carbon emissions that are released to the Earth’s atmosphere as a result of human activities. Since the beginning of industrialization, humans have been responsible for the increase in one greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide (CO2), from approximately 280 parts per million (ppm) at the end of the nineteenth century to the current levels of 390ppm. As well as affecting the surface ocean pH, and the organisms living at the ocean surface, these increases in CO2 are causing global mean surface temperatures to rise.

Keywords

Dissolve Inorganic Carbon Particulate Organic Carbon Ocean Acidification Carbonate Chemistry Photosynthetic Carbon Fixation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Glossary

Acclimation

Organisms’ physiological, morphological, and behavioral changes associated with environmental selection pressure. These are typically changes in size, growth rates, production rates of metabolites, or reproduction rates.

Adaptation

Change in population composition and numbers in response to environmental selection pressure. Adaptation is largely driven by the inherent genomic properties of a population (e.g., gene richness, genomic complexity, genetic diversity). In order for a population to adapt, a subset of its members (genotypes/ecotypes) may change in relative abundance.

Anthropocene

Period since the beginning of industrialization when the release of CO2 and other by-products of human activities have had a profound effect on the Earth’s ecosystems.

Biological pump

The biological processes (e.g., photosynthesis, calcification) that contribute to the downward flux of carbon from the ocean surface to the deep sea.

Biota

Animals and plants associated with a specific geographical region.

Calcification

Deposition of the soluble mineral phase of calcium carbonate (CaCO3). In the marine environment, calcifiers include plants (e.g., coccolithophores, green and red algae, calcareous dinoflagellates) and animals (e.g., foraminifera, pteropods, fish, bivalves, gastropods, corals, echinoderms, crustacea, sponges).

Calcium carbonate saturation horizon

The depth of the ocean below which the saturation state of calcium carbonate is below 1, and therefore dissolution increases dramatically. This depth is also termed lysocline and it is dependent upon temperature and pressure.

Ocean acidification

Period of accelerated decline in ocean pH as a result of increasing formation of carbonic acid from rising dissolved carbon dioxide in seawater as a result of human activities.

pH

pH is defined as –log10 [H+] and represents a measure of the acidity of a solution. A pH of 7 is neutral, a pH below 7 indicates that the solution is acid, and a pH above 7 indicates that the solution is alkaline. The pH scale is logarithmic, which means that each unit change in pH equals a tenfold change in acidity. The average surface ocean pH is ∼8.1.

Saturation state of calcium carbonate (Ω)

The product of the concentration of dissolved calcium and carbonate ions in seawater divided by the stoichiometric solubility product (Ω = [Ca2+][CO 3 2− ]/K sp) of the biomineral produced by an organism, that is, aragonite or calcite. When Ω>1, the water is in supersaturated state with respect to calcite or aragonite, and carbonate precipitates; when Ω<1 the water is in undersaturated state with respect to calcite or aragonite and these minerals dissolve; when Ω=1 the water is in saturated state with respect to calcite or aragonite and there is no precipitation or dissolution of carbonate.

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Books and Reviews

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Documents

  1. European geosciences union position statement on ocean acidification http://www.egu.eu/statements/egu-position-statement-on-ocean-acidification.html
  2. JSOST (Joint Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology; National Science and Technology Council). http://ocean.ceq.gov/about/jsost.html
  3. National oceanic and atmospheric administration ocean acidification website. http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/co2/OA/
  4. NSTC Joint subcommittee on ocean science and technology (2007) Charting the course for ocean science in the United States for the next decade, An ocean research priorities plan and implementation strategy, 26 Jan 2007, 84 pGoogle Scholar
  5. Ocean Carbon and Biogeochemistry (OCB). http://www.us-ocb.org/ and http://www.whoi.edu/sites/oceanacidification
  6. The Ocean Acidification Network. http://www.ocean-acidification.net/

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography CentreUniversity of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK

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