Ocean & Coastal Acidification

The burning of fossil fuels has resulted in an increase of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere.  The oceans absorb about one-third of this carbon dioxide, resulting in changes to ocean chemistry.  Additionally, increases in freshwater and nutrient runoff can also cause changes in the carbonate chemistry of coastal waters.  These local and regional processes play a particularly important role in acidification of the Southeast region. Explore the impacts to different organisms and ecosystem chemistry below.

The Chemistry

When there is too much CO2 in the water, it reacts with the carbonate ion that is essential for forming the mineral Calcium Carbonate, which is the mineral used by almost every species to form internal or external skeletons. This process is what we call acidification. Many different chemical contributions can contribute to decreasing the concentration of the carbonate ion (CO32-)Click here to learn more about the chemical processes that drive ocean and coastal acidification.

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Impacts to Organisms