Ocean Acidification- What is it?
As carbon dioxide dissolves in seawater, it produces carbonic acid, which lowers the pH of the ocean. Ocean acidification is the name given to this process collectively.
Concerns related :
Today’s ocean acidification is happening around ten times more quickly than it did 300 million years ago. Marine ecosystems can change due to ocean acidification. It affects a variety of societal advantages associated to the water, such as coastal protection, the production of food, and income.
Alongside ocean acidification, higher ocean temperatures and oxygen depletion are also present. These three stresses from climate change on the marine ecosystem are known as the “deadly trio.”
Causes of acidification:
~Ocean acidification is primarily caused by atmospheric CO2 being absorbed and dissolved by ocean water. As human-caused CO2 emissions rise, so do ocean CO2 absorption rates.
~In addition, the discharge of sewage, industrial, and agricultural waste contributes to ocean acidification because these wastes encourage the growth of algae by supplying too many nutrients to the ocean. When these algae perish, they immediately emit CO2 into the water, increasing acidification.
Impact on Human Health
Although ocean acidification was once thought to just be a threat to the aquatic environment, it is now known that it is also a growing threat to human health.
With regard to:
(1) malnutrition and poisoning,
(2) respiratory problems,
(3) mental health effects, and
(4) the development of medical resources, ocean acidification has an impact on human health and well-being.
What measures can be taken to reduce it
Mitigation and adaptation are the two types of action for combating ocean acidification.
Initially, reducing CO2 emissions is the only viable approach to limit climate change, which in turn will lessen ocean acidification. While limiting oil and gas emissions and gradually ending foreign support for fossil fuels are an excellent place to start, much more needs to be done.
Additionally, it is possible to grow carbon-sequestering habitats, such as kelp forests and seagrass, to absorb more CO2. Coastal habitats can benefit greatly from protecting blue carbon, or the carbon stored in vegetated coastal ecosystems. This can be achieved by regulating coastal development more effectively and by safeguarding intact ocean ecosystems through the creation of marine protected areas (MPAs).
We must assist animals and ecosystems that are harmed by ocean acidification in adapting. These species will be better able to adapt to a changing marine environment if other stresses like pollution, overfishing, and habitat destruction are reduced. Strong MPAs and more ethical fisheries management are both helpful in this regard. With the help of these methods, coastal populations and ecosystems can adapt to ocean acidification (as well as the compounding effects of ocean temperature and oxygen content). MPAs have several advantages in terms of reducing and adjusting to the biodiversity and climate crises, as well as advantages for fisheries and tourism.
Importance of oceans:
~Phytoplankton, a microscopic organism that inhabits the ocean, is responsible for producing half of the oxygen that is currently available to us. Moreover, the ocean is a significant carbon sink and has captured 20–30% of the CO2 produced by humans since the 1980s through diffusion into the water and photosynthesis by plankton and algae.
The entire world’s oceans, especially the estuaries and waterways along the coast, are being affected by ocean acidification. Fish and shellfish are essential to many economies, and ocean-based foods represent the main source of nutrition for many people all over the world.
Our seas must be protected because we cannot afford to let them continue to deteriorate. Climate action includes ocean conservation.
Read about 2022 UN Ocean Conference here