Ocean acidification is one of the most important ecological problems. This problem is directly connected with human activity. “Not all of the CO2 emitted by human industrial activities remains in the atmosphere. Between 25% and 50% of these emissions over the industrial period have been absorbed by the world’s oceans, preventing atmospheric CO2 buildup from being much, much worse.” (Searcy 1)
The absorption of CO2 by the ocean is a normal fact and does not damage ocean ecology if the amount does not exceed the natural amount of this gas. However, the absorption of the excessive amounts of carbon dioxide (produced by humans) leads to changes in the chemical composition of sea water, that is, to its acidification. Over the past 200 years, as a result of industrial and agricultural activities on Earth atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide rose to its highest level over the past 800,000 years, which caused the planet warming. Oceans have absorbed 525 billion tons of carbon dioxide in the same period. This, in turn, greatly harms all marine life. In particular, various marine organisms as zooplankton, corals, and clams suffer a lot because it becomes harder to build their shells and exoskeletons. Plankton and clams are fish food so the lack of food leads to the disappearance of many species. For example, pteropods or “sea butterflies” are small creatures which are located at the beginning of the food chain and are eaten by many different marine animals, including whales and polar bears. In the subarctic Pacific, shelled pteropods are an important source of food for young salmon, pollock, cod and other commercially important fish. The pteropods’ shells are composed of aragonite - a form of calcium carbonate. Aragonite dissolves more easily than other materials of shells, and therefore in the conditions of the increased acidity aragonite shells disappear in the ocean faster than others. National Geographic provided the photos of pteropod in the destruction period. The shell is slowly destroyed in 45 days.
Scientists also say that ocean plays an important role in curbing of global warming. According to their calculations, the ocean absorbs about one-quarter of carbon dioxide produced by man. If absorption did not take place, the rate of warming of the planet would be accelerated significantly. Scientists estimated that ocean acidity has increased by 0.1 pH, and by the end of the century, they predict the increase of water acidity by 0.3-0.4 pH.
Already, we can see that the fish leave their usual habitat. A good example is the cod, which goes from the south polar seas to the north. But how ocean acidification affects the ability of the water cod to adapt to the temperature is not explored. Also, large colonies of mussels in the northern part of the Mediterranean Sea are influenced by warming. It has already been noticed that this species is on the way of extinction.
In October 2008, inMonaco, under the guidance of UNESCO, a symposium entitled "The Ocean in the world with a high content of CO2” took place. It was attended by 250 scientists from 32 countries worldwide. They discussed the problem of ocean acidification and the effects of this process, and identified research priorities in this area.
All participants agreed that this process could be stopped by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
The significance of this problem is known worldwide and it needs quick actions of the entire world in solving the problem for situation improvement.