Ocean acidification is the process in which carbon dioxide is taken up by the oceans, where it (in the form of carbon dioxide or converted to carbonic acid) gradually makes the oceans more acidic. As the carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere continue to rise due to the burning of fossil fuels, the oceans become more acidic.
The discovery that the oceans are being carbonated – acidification by rising levels of carbon dioxide – was made in the 1980s. But the severity of the changes have begun to become clear only in the last six years. Researchers estimate that a quarter of all the carbon dioxide human activity emits is dissolved in the oceans. The emissions have made the oceans 30 percent more acidic than before the start of the industrial era. If nothing is done, the acidity is assumed to increase by 100-150 percent by 2100. This involves changes in the oceans basic chemistry whose scale – and not least the speed – is unprecedented.
Students writing their research paper on ocean acidification have to understand that no one knows exactly what effects more acidic oceans will have on the ecosystem in the long term.
What is known is that many shell-building animals, such as corals and shellfish, may be more difficult to build their shell, so it might dissolve and the species eventually die out.
Some of these shell builders are plankton, the base of many food chains. It can lead to major shifts in plankton flora, which may have further impact. Different plankton serves as food for various animals. Therefore, the entire food chain can be affected.
The chemical cycle in the oceans is slow. Even if carbon emissions stopped today, it would take thousands of years for the oceans to haul away all the carbonic acid.
Ocean acidification is faster in cold water than in warm. Havens at the poles, the Arctic and Antarctic, is especially affected.
According to researches, the average pH of the sea water dropped from 8.25 to 8.14, which corresponds to the acidity increase of 30%. This ever increasing acidification poses a serious threat to the food chains that are connected to the oceans.
The carbon cycle shows the exchange of CO 2 between the atmosphere, lithosphere, terrestrial biosphere, and oceans. Thus, human activity such as the burning of fossil fuels and land use led to increased emissions of CO 2 in the atmosphere. About 45% of the excess CO 2 stays there, the rest is largely goes into the ocean water. A small part is absorbed by plants.
The carbon cycle includes both organic compounds and inorganic carbon components, such as carbon dioxide and carbonates. These inorganic compounds play the biggest role in ocean acidification.
Free sample research paper on ocean acidification should be used for getting more information on the topic and see the structure of a research proposal.
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