Ocean Acidification

Identifies the locations of carbon dioxide (CO2) measurements from moored buoys. Fundamental changes in seawater chemistry are occurring throughout the world's oceans. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, the release of CO2 from humankind's industrial and agricultural activities has increased the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. The ocean absorbs about a quarter of the CO2 we release into the atmosphere every year, so as atmospheric CO2 levels increase, so do the levels in the ocean. This CO2 absorbed by the ocean is changing the chemistry of the seawater, a process called ocean acidification.

These changes in seawater chemistry affect animal growth, survival and behavior, and they are depleting the ocean of calcium carbonate, a nutrient vital for shellfish to build shells. Marine organisms with calcium carbonate shells or skeletons—such as corals, oysters, clams, and mussels—can be affected by small changes in acidity. That's important, because shelled organisms are essential throughout the marine food chain.

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