Ocean Acidification

2009
Size: 81.92 cm w x 106.68 cm h. 32.25 " w x 42 " h
Media: Collage and oil paint on canvas
Sale price: Contact artist for availability

Approximately half of the carbon dioxide (CO2) produced by human activity in the last 200 years is being taken up by the oceans. CO2 in the atmosphere is a chemically unreactive gas but, when it is dissolved in the ocean chemical changes occur. One of the overall effects is the formation of carbonic acid (H2O + CO2 = H2CO3). This weak acid releases hydrogen ions into the seawater which cause the acidity to increase (decreases the pH of the oceans). The increase in ocean acidity will have severe consequences on marine organisms that produce calcium carbonate (CaCO3). Marine life such as corals, molluscs, phytoplankton and zooplankton could be severely impacted, causing a ripple effect through the entire marine food chain. At this point, ocean acidification is irreversible during our lifetimes, and it will take thousands of years for the ocean chemistry to return to pre-industrial times.

Resources:

The Royal Society. Ocean acidification due to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide. Science Policy Section, London, UK. June 2005. www.royalsoc.ac.uk

Ken, Dr. Caldeira, Carnegie Institution, Stanford University. Is human-induced acidification of the sea about to destroy reefs? “Are We Killing the Worlds Oceans”. Victoria: University of Victoria — RSC: The Academies, Feb. 21, 2007.