Here’s an important video of Professor Rob Dunbar from Stanford University giving a TED talk about ocean acidification. Professor Dunbar’s research takes a look at how climate change has affected our oceans over the past 50 to 12,000 years and the video is well worth a watch:

If you haven’t yet heard the term “ocean acidification,” it’s really no surprise. The term is not as sexy and easy to use as the generic “global warming” but yet it’s just as important to know about. Decreases in the pH of our sea water over the last several hundred years, due to increased levels of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere and absorbed by the ocean, is changing seawater chemistry and having a detrimental effect on the health of the marine ecosystem. As CO2 is absorbed in the ocean, it makes carbonic acid which then breaks down into hydrogen ions and bicarbonate ions. The hydrogen ions reduce the water’s alkalinity and increase its acidity.

The ocean absorbs about one quarter of the CO2 we release, and over the last 250 years there has been a nearly 30 percent rise in acidity in our oceans. This is calcifying corals, altering underwater acoustic properties that fish count on for navigation, destroying parts of the food chain, and leaving shellfish and corals without the essential ingredient (carbonate) they use to make shells and skeletons.

Recent models are predicting that if we don’t move fast to reduce CO2 emissions, pH levels in the ocean will drop to 7.8 – a level not seen for millions of years. These changes are happening 100 times faster than ever before and time is running out to protect the health of our oceans.

For more information on ocean acidification, check out the following links:

  • Ocean Acidification
  • National Science Foundation
  • Center for Biological Diversity

Image Credit: Shutterstock