Effect of ocean acidification on the speciation of metals in seawater

Increasing atmospheric CO2 over the next 200 years will cause the pH of ocean waters to decrease further. Many recent studies have examined the effect of decreasing pH on calcifying organisms in ocean waters and on other biological processes (photosynthesis, nitrogen fixation, elemental ratios, and community structure). In this review, we examine how pH will change the organic and inorganic speciation of metals in surface ocean waters, and the effect that it will have on the interactions of metals with marine organisms. We consider both kinetic and equilibrium processes. The decrease in concentration of OH– and CO32– ions can affect the solubility, adsorption, toxicity, and rates of redox processes of metals in seawater. Future studies are needed to examine how pH affects the interactions of metals complexed to organic ligands and with marine organisms.



Millero, F.J., Woosley, R., DiTrolio, B., & Waters, J., 2009. Effect of Ocean Acidification on the Speciation of Metals in Seawater. Oceanography 22(4): 72-85. Article.

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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