From alkaline to acid is a natural chemical range; we can measure acidity and alkalinity and do so for many purposes, ranging from medicine to cosmetics, from food to solar water heating exchange fluids. We live in and environment and eat and drink in an environment where the acidity or the alkalinity of everything we contact has to be within a certain pH range to be safe for us to eat it or touch it or live in it.
The Arctic Ocean is becoming more acidic. Humans are emitting copious quantities of carbon dioxide, much of which goes into the atmosphere, where it acts as a layer of thermal insulation, but much of which also is dissolved in precipitation and ends up in the sea. Cold water absorbs carbon dioxide more quickly than warm water, and as a result it seems that the Arctic region’s seas are becoming more acidic, more quickly than scientists had previously expected. The surfaces of the seas are most acidic, especially where the sea surface water mixed with fresh water rivers that drain into the Arctic seas, and where the sea ice (which shielded the water from absorbed carbon dioxide) has melted.
The Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research thinks that decreases in seawater pH in the Iceland and Barents seas have been in the order of 0.02 pH for every decade since 1970. Unfortunately, there is no doubt; all seas are slowly becoming more acidic but the colder seas and oceans are becoming more acidic more quickly than the warmer oceans. This will have an effect on sea life, and the fish and sea food available to humanity. The effect is unlikely to be a positive one.
Filed under: climate change | Tagged: acidic oceans, carbon dioxide, Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research, climate, climate change, environment, global warming, Ocean acidification, sea ice, sea water, seas and oceans |