Thongchai Thailand

Ocean Acidification the Evil Twin of Climate Change

Posted on: January 26, 2020

bandicam 2020-01-26 18-05-59-670









  1. Do you ever think about how important the oceans are in our daily lives? The oceans cover 2/3 of the planet. They provide half the oxygen we breathe. They moderate our climate. And they provide dogs (drugs?) and medicine, and food including 20% protein to feed the entire world population. bandicam 2020-01-26 18-24-52-849
  2. People used to think that the oceans are so vast that they wouldn’t be affected by human activities. Well today I am going to tell you about a serious reality that is changing our oceans. It’s called ocean acidification or the evil twin of climate change. Did you know that the oceans have absorbed 25% of all of the CO2 that we have emitted into the atmosphere? bandicam 2020-01-26 18-28-54-637
  3. Now this is just another great service provided by the oceans since carbon dioxide is one of the greenhouse gases that’s causing climate change. But as we keep pumping more and more and more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, more is dissolving into the oceans and this is what’s changing our ocean chemistry. When carbon dioxide dissolves in seawater it undergoes a number of chemical reactions. Now lucky for you I don’t have time to get into the details of the chemistry for today. But I will tell you that as more carbon dioxide enters the ocean, the seawater pH goes down and that basically means that there is an increase in ocean acidity. bandicam 2020-01-26 19-00-57-054
  4. And this whole process is called ocean acidification and it is happening alongside climate change. Scientists have been monitoring ocean acidification for over two decades. This figure is an important time series in Hawaii and the top line shows a steadily increasing concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere; and this is directly as a result of human activities. The line underneath shows the increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide that is dissolved in the surface of the ocean which you can see is increasing at the same rate as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere since measurements began. The line in the bottom then shows the change in chemistry. As more carbon dioxide has entered the ocean, the seawater pH has gone down, which basically means that there has been an increase in ocean acidity. bandicam 2020-01-26 19-05-36-534
  5. Now in Ireland, scientists are also monitoring ocean acidification, Scientific and Marine Institute and NUI Galway (National University of Ireland at Galway). And we too are seeing acidification at the same rate as the main ocean time series sites around the world. So it’s happening right at our doorstep. Now I’d like to give you an example of just how we collect our data to monitor a changing ocean. Firstly, we collect a lot of our samples in the middle pf winter so as you can imagine in the North Atlantic we got hit with some seriously stormy conditions so we got hit with some motion sickness but we did collect some very valuable data. So we lower the instruments over the side of the ship and there are sensors that are mounted on the bottom that can tell us information about the surrounding water. Such as temperature, or dissolved oxygen; and we can collect our sea water samples in these large bottles. So we start at the bottom which can be over 4 km deep (4000 meters or 13,123 feet), just off our continental shelf; and we take samples at regular intervals right up to the surface. We take the sea-water back on the deck and then we can either analyze them on the ship or back in the laboratory so the different chemical parameters. bandicam 2020-01-26 19-22-28-011
  6. But why should we care? How is ocean acidification going to affect all of us? Well, here are the worrying facts. There has already been an increase in ocean acidity of 26% since pre-industrial times which is directly due to human activities. Unless we can start slowing down our carbon dioxide emissions, we are expecting an increase in ocean acidity of 170% by the end of this century. I mean this is within our children’s lifetime. This rate of acidification is ten times faster than any acidification in our oceans for over 55 million years. So our marine life has never ever experienced such a fast rate of change before. So we literally could not know how they’re going to cope.  bandicam 2020-01-26 20-13-58-423bandicam 2020-01-26 20-11-39-339
  7. Now there was a natural acidification event millions of years ago which was much slower than what we are seeing today and this coincided with a mass extinction of many marine species. So is that what we’re headed for? Well, maybe! Studies are showing that while some species are actually doing quite well, but many are showing a negative response. This is one of the big concerns as ocean acidification increases, the concentration of carbonate ions in seawater decreased. Now these ions are basically the building blocks for many marine species to make their cells. For example crabs or mussels or oysters. Another example are corals. They also need the carbonate ions in seawater to make their coral structure in order to build a coral reef. As ocean acidity increases, and the concentration of carbonate ions decreases, these species first find it more difficult to make their cells, and at even lower levels, they can actually begin to dissolve. bandicam 2020-01-26 20-37-22-768
  8. Shown above is a terapod, also called a sea butterfly, and it’s an important food source in the ocean for many species – from krill to salmon right up to whales. The shell of the terapod was placed into sea water at a pH that we are expecting at the end of the century. After only 45 days at this very realistic pH, you can see that the shell has almost completely dissolved. So ocean acidification could affect right up through the food chain and right on to our dinner plates. i mean who here likes shellfish? or a salmon? or many other fish species whose food source in the ocean could be affected. bandicam 2020-01-26 20-52-07-569
  9. Shown above are cold water corals. And did you know that we actually have cold water corals in Irish waters just off our continental shelf. And they support a rich biodiversity including some very important fisheries. It is projected that by the end of this century 70% of all known cold water corals in the entire ocean will be surrounded by seawater that is dissolving their coral structure. bandicam 2020-01-26 20-58-38-972
  10. The last example I have are these healthy tropical corals. They were placed in seawater at the pH we are expecting in the year 2100. After 6 months the corals had almost completely dissolved (shown in the graphic above). Now coral reefs support 25% of all marine life in the entire ocean. All marine life! So you can see that ocean acidification is a global threat. I have an 8-month-old baby boy. Unless we start now to slow this down, I dread to think what our oceans will look like when he is a grown man.
  11. We will see acidification. We have already put too much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. But we can slow this down. We can prevent the worst case scenario. The only way of doing that is by reducing our carbon dioxide emissions. This is important for both you and I, for industry, for government. We need to work together and slow down ocean acidification. And then we can slow down global warming. Slow down ocean acidification. And help to maintain a healthy ocean and a healthy planet for our generation and for generations to come.




  1. As in other Ocean Acidification (OA) scenarios [LINK] [LINK] [LINK] [LINK] [LINK], OA is presented as an alarming and dangerous development in the AGW climate change context that is already evident. However, this OA presentation is very different with respect to the timing of the  horror. Quite unlike the other alarming scenarios, where the horror of ocean acidification is evident, the presentation made here contains no such statement or implication.
  2. Here, the dangerous consequences of OA are placed not in the past, nor the present, but well out in the distant future 80 years from now in the year 2100. The thesis is not that that the horror of OA has arrived, nor that it is evident in the data, but that it will surely arrive by the year 2100 unless we take climate action to reduce fossil fuel emissions. It is claimed that climate action will slow down OA to the point where it will no longer be the horror it is forecast to be in the absence of climate action.
  3. In this sense, this presentation appears to be a case of climate action activism against fossil fuels where the horrors of OA are used as the rationale for changing the world’s energy infrastructure away from fossil fuels. This presentation is carefully structured anti fossil fuel activism with the motivation for cutting emissions (not using fossil fuels) provided by detailed descriptions of OA horrors that lie in wait for us in the year 2100 if we continue to use fossil fuels.
  4. The causal connection between the use of fossil fuels and OA is made, as in all other OA presentations, with the unsubstantiated claim that the source of the carbon dioxide causing the acidification is our use of fossil fuels because we are “pumping more and more and more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere“.
  5. In a related post [LINK] it is shown that in the 60-year period 1955-2015, inorganic CO2 concentration in the ocean went up at an average rate of 0.002 MM/L (millimoles per liter) per year. Correlation analysis is presented to test whether changes in oceanic CO2 concentration is responsive to emissions at an annual time scale. The analysis failed to show such a causal relationship between emissions and changes in oceanic CO2 concentration.
  6. In that same study [LINK] , in terms of ppm by weight, the CO2 concentration of the ocean had increased from 88ppm to 110ppm for a gain of 22ppm at a rate of 0.367ppm per year. During this period fossil fuel emissions increased from 7.5 gigatonnes/year of CO2 (GTY) to 36.1GTY with cumulative emissions since 1851 rising from 258 GT to 1,505 GT with a total amount contributed in this period of 1,247 GT.  If all of these emissions had gone into the ocean it would have caused an increase of 0.91 ppm of CO2 in the ocean. Therefore, the observed rise of 22pm cannot be explained in terms of fossil fuel emissions. 
  7. The claim made in paragraph 4 that causation of OA by fossil fuel emissions is established because the two time series are both rising at the same rate over the same time period, is false. Such correlations do not serve as evidence of causation. For that, a time scale for the causation must be specified and the two time series must be detrended; and a statistically significant detrended correlation at the specified time scale must exist. As shown in a related post, no evidence for such causation is found in the data at an annual time scale [LINK] .
  8. These results suggest that natural sources of CO2 in the ocean itself must be considered. Known geological sources of CO2 in the ocean include plate tectonics, submarine volcanism, mantle plumes, hydrothermal vents, methane hydrates, and hydrocarbon seepage and these sources must be taken into account in the study of changes in oceanic inorganic CO2 concentration. It is necessary to overcome the extreme atmosphere bias of climate science to conduct a more realistic study of changes in oceanic CO2.
  9. That experiments carried out in the laboratory with high concentrations of CO2 show shells of oceanic creatures dissolving is not relevant to a demand for reducing or eliminating fossil fuel emissions until it can be shown that the observed changes in oceanic CO2 concentration are  responsive to fossil fuel emissions. The relevance of geological activity in this regard is discussed in related posts [LINK] [LINK] [LINK] . Also, if shellfish of the deep are threatened by carbon dioxide in our fossil fuel emissions, we need an explanation for why the shellfish of the deep like to hang out near hydrothermal vents. 
  10. The natural ocean acidification event in the paleo record 55 million years ago to which she refers is the PETM [LINK] where the source of the CO2 was entirely geological such that the ocean had acidified itself. In light of this and other paleo records of the impact of geological carbon on the ocean and the atmosphere, climate science insists that this time around all changes must be explained in terms of human activity by way of atmospheric CO2. This bias in climate science is a serious flaw. It weakens the science credentials on which it relies and from which it tends to derive its legitimacy.
  11. CONCLUSION: A convincing case is made that if the very high carbon dioxide concentrations used in the laboratory experiments were to occur in the ocean, oceanic creatures would become grossly affected in terms of dissolving shells and other horrors. However, no matter how horrible, these horrors do not serve as a rationale for climate action in the form of reducing or eliminating fossil fuel emissions to “slow it down” until it can be shown that fossil fuel emissions are the cause of the observed changes in oceanic CO2 concentration and that climate action in terms of reducing or eliminating fossil fuel emissions will prevent or moderate these horrors. The causation is claimed based on shared trends but shared trends do not prove a causation relationship between time series data. It should also be mentioned that an assumed planetary relevance of ocean acidification is expressed in the presentation with the falsehood that “the oceans cover two thirds of the planet“.  The oceans do constitute 2/3 of the crust of the planet and the crust of the planet does in fact cover the planet but to imply a planetary relevance for ocean acidification with these data is a falsehood. In fact the crust of the planet consisting of land and ocean is a rather insignificant 0.3% of the planet. The climate science obsession with claiming a planetary relevance for fossil fuel emissions is grossly misguided. Most of the planet is below the lithosphere in the mantle and the core. All life on earth including TERAPODS, CORAL, and humans are carbon life forms made from the carbon that came from the deep carbon belly of our carbon planet and there’s plenty more carbon down there where we came from. 







9 Responses to "Ocean Acidification the Evil Twin of Climate Change"

Greetings…I was reading this post and when I reread it, paragraph No. 6 stuck out and I was hoping for clarification on these numbers. A typo? “During this period fossil fuel emissions increased from 7.5 gigatonnes/year of CO2 (GTY) to 36.1GTY with cumulative emissions since 1851 rising from 258 GT to 1,505 GT with a total amount contributed in this period of 1,247 GT. ” – is this total number correct? It appears to be less than the the 1,505GTY identifying current/latest annual output. Thank you for your blog site and any clarification on this.

OK, since 1955 we pumped out 1,247 GT. Cumulative total of 1,505 since 1851. Sorry about that. 🙂

So, with 22 times more CO2 in the ocean than we have pumped out from fossil fuels, would it be correct to think that the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere is due in some part to it getting belched out by the oceans? Am I missing something?

Good point. I have a post that is related to your observation. Back soon with link.

Please see

Thank You. Thank you again for your website.

A pleasure sir. Maybe this is the link that relates directly to your comment about carbon cycle flows (that include ocean to atmos).

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