Ocean acidification in the 3rd Climate Change Indicators in the United States report

The United Stated Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with help from several other partner organizations, has compiled the third edition of the report “Climate Change Indicators in the United States”, presenting 30 indicators to help readers understand observed long-term trends related to the causes and effects of climate change. In its “Oceans” chapter, the report dedicates a section to the problem of ocean acidification. This indicator describes trends in pH and related properties of ocean water, based on a combination of direct observations, calculations, and modeling. These data have been either measured directly or calculated from related measurements, such as dissolved inorganic carbon and alkalinity. Data come from two stations in the Atlantic Ocean (Bermuda and the Canary Islands) and one in the Pacific (Hawaii).

This indicator focuses on surface waters, which can absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere within a few months. It can take much longer for changes in pH and mineral saturation to spread to deeper waters, so the full effect of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations on ocean acidity may not be seen for many decades, if not centuries. Studies suggest that the impacts of ocean acidification may be greater at depth, because the aragonite saturation level is naturally lower in deeper waters.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Full report.


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