Ocean acidification: environmental issue and its impact on marine life

Concentration of carbon dioxide is rising with constantly progressing industrialization. The major sources of anthropogenic CO2 are combustion of fossil fuels, transport and industrial processes. This gas is present not only in the atmosphere, but also in water. The oceans play an extremely important role in absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere, and that process leads to a decrease in water pH, which causes changes in the environment and all the organisms present within. Acidification of the oceans is a process in which the pH value of water is reduced by increased partial pressure of CO2 in the water. It is expected to observe a decrease in the pH of the open oceans by 0.35 units over the next hundred years. Reactions of marine organisms to ambient condition changes are specific for particular types or species. Effect of water acidification may affect organisms positively, negatively or may not have an impact at all. Organisms with calcareous shells or frustules are especially vulnerable to ocean acidification. Carbonic acid occurring as a result of the increasing CO2 concentration in water will dissolve the shells built of calcium carbonate. This review focuses on the excessive amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the impact of this phenomenon on the marine ecosystems.

Cichowska A. & Kosakowska A., 2014. Ocean acidification: environmental issue and its impact on marine life, in Zielinski T. et al. (Ed.), Insights on Environmental Changes, pp. 127-139. Book chapter (subscription required). 

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