Posts Tagged 'document/pdf'

OA-ICC publishes new policy briefing based on latest IPCC reports

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s OA-ICC (Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre) published a new resource today, titled “Ocean Acidification: The Evidence is Clear. The Time for Action is Now.” This policy briefing highlights the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group I, II, and III reports and details policy actions that can be enacted now.

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What’s the big deal about ocean acidification?

Fifth-grade students from an inland community discover a local connection to our ocean

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We have only one ocean and it is inextricably linked to human health, yet research shows most elementary students do not understand the one-ocean concept (Mogias 2019). Additionally, the ocean—and its problems—may seem unrelated to students’ lives even though it provides half of the oxygen we breathe (via plankton); manufactures our weather; supplies food and drinking water; and makes a global economy possible. “Enhancing interactions with the ocean through experiential learning could be the most effective way of improving ocean literacy as well as marine citizen- and stewardship” (Guest et al. 2015). So, we—a literacy consultant and a children’s author—came together to show educators how STEM and language arts could be combined in ocean experiential learning.

In a series of 12 project-based learning lessons, a group of seven fifth-grade students who live 200 miles from the coast explored their personal connections to our ocean. After completing a unit on the role of water in Earth’s surface processes, the students investigated ocean acidification and how this pervasive ocean problem impacts their local community.
We had three basic goals for our students:

  • Learn the process of ocean acidification and its impact on the environment.
  • Understand the link between their inland community and the ocean.
  • Form meaningful emotional relationships with the ocean and take action on ocean sustainability.

The following lessons may be scaled up for an entire class. For example, the teacher could work with a rotation of small groups while other students work collaboratively on related tasks. Alternatively, the teacher could provide whole-group focus lessons (or, in some cases, directions) and then confer with small groups as they engage in the conversations and other activities described here

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SWINGS Cruise report MD229- N/O Marion-Dufresne- Jan 11th -March 8th 2021

Introduction and objectives

SWINGS is a multidisciplinary 4-year project dedicated to elucidate trace element sources, transformations and sinks along a section crossing key areas of the Southern Ocean (SO). Major French contribution to the international GEOTRACES program (, SWINGS involves ca 80 scientists (21 international laboratories, 7 countries2). As core action of SWINGS, the SWINGS cruise (R/V
Marion-Dufresne, MD229, Geotraces section GS02) started from La Reunion on January 11th 2021 and ended at La Reunion 57 days later (March 8th, 2021). This cruise explored a large part of the South Indian Ocean (Figure 0-2) in order to tackle the following objectives:

1) establish the relative importance of sedimentary, atmospheric and hydrothermal sources of TEIs in the Indian sector of the SO
2) investigate the drivers of the internal trace element cycles: biogenic uptake, remineralization, particle fate, and export, and
3) quantify TEI transport by the Antarctic Circumpolar Current and the numerous fronts at the confluence between Indian and Atlantic Oceans.

Cruise Strategy

SWINGS strategy relies on the strong coupling between physical oceanography, biogeochemistry and modeling. During the cruise, a major and original focus has been put on the characterization of the physical, biological and chemical particle speciation in suspended and sinking particles that have been collected during SWINGS.

We realized a high spatial resolution sampling of the dissolved (<0.45 μm) and particulate (>0.45 μm) pools, from the surface to the seafloor. This harvest of data will allow a major step forward in the understanding and quantification of dissolved-particle exchanges, a major recognized bolt for the element cycle modeling. Moreover, samples to analyze dedicated tracers (e.g Th and Pa isotopes) were collected in order to better characterize the particle dynamics. Ra isotope analyses will support the quantification of land-ocean transfers while Nd ones will trace the origin of the dissolved and particulate matter. Both tracers will also help identifying and characterizing hydrothermal source occurrences. Indeed, specific attention was paid to the ocean interfaces: atmospheric and land contacts, and a segment of the South West Indian Ridge suspected to be the home of active hydrothermal sites were explored. Combined with the other suite of trace metals, we will be able to provide an estimation of the lateral and vertical transport of key trace metals from the different sources investigated along the section. We also collected samples in order to describe the taxonomic diversity of heterotrophic microbes, their metabolic potential, gene- and protein expression patterns as well as samples necessary for the enumeration of heterotrophic prokaryotes and small (up to 20 µm) autotrophic phytoplankton, 2 SWINGS PARTNERS: CNRS_UPS_LEGOS (PI, TOULOUSE), CNRS_UBO_LEMAR (PI, BREST), AMU_MIO (MARSEILLE), CNRS_UVSQ_LSCE (SACLAY), CNRS_SU_LOCEAN (PARIS), CNRS_SU_LOMIC (BANYULS), CNRS_UPS_GET (TOULOUSE), CNRS_SU_AD2M (ROSCOFF), CNRS_CECI (TOULOUSE), CSIR-SOCCO (CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA), SU-DEAS, ULB_BRUXELLES (BELGIUM), WU-SO (WASHINGTON UNIV, USA), WHOI-MBC (WOODS HOLE, USA), FU-DEOAS (FLORIDA STATE UNIV AND FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY, USA), GEOMAR (KIEL, GERMANY), PEO AND ETH (ZURICH, CH) 10 the concentration of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and major inorganic nutrients (nitrate and nitrite, phosphate and silicic acid). Finally, dedicated biology experiments, such as nitrification, calcification or iron uptake experiments were conducted throughout the cruise.

The cruise track –at the Atlantic-Indian boundary- did cross up to 6 currents or fronts, among which the 3 majors are reported in Figure 0-2. These jets are major pathways of the general circulation, critical for chemical specie transport: our navigation strategy was regularly adapted using the SOS (Scheduler for Oceanographic Samplings), an interactive navigation tool for adaptive cruise scheduling in order to characterize these current dynamic (geostrophic calculation) as well as their trace element and isotope contents.

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The pH scale and the chemistry of ocean acidification

Ocean acidification provides a useful and engaging context to explore your learners’ understanding of the pH scale

This resource explores the concept of changing pH linked to ocean acidification and can be used as a worksheet to aid understanding during the lesson or as homework. Extension questions provide more challenge and delve into other aspects of chemistry linked to ocean acidification. They lead to a research task where learners can present what they have learnt to explain some of the consequences of ocean acidification on marine organisms.

Sustainability in chemistry

The Sustainable Development Goals logo

This resource accompanies the Education in Chemistry article Tie ocean acidification into your chemistry topics where you will find more support and suggestions for how to connect your current chemistry teaching with UN sustainable development goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources. Use the goal to add further context to this resource.

Teacher notes

The download includes answers to all of the questions in the worksheet. 

Question 4 gives learners an opportunity to apply their knowledge and practise a longer-answer question. A structure strip to support this question is provided. Structure strips give scaffolded prompts and help overcome ‘fear of the blank page’. Learners stick the strip into the margin of their exercise book, or a sheet of A4 paper, and write alongside it. Read more in Improve students’ understanding through writing.

A student sheet and teacher notes available as PDFs or MS Word docs. Download All

The extension questions provide further challenge for learners within the topic. Question 7c asks learners to consider equilibrium and they may need a prompt to think about Le Chatelier’s principle if attempting this question.

Question 9 asks learners to undertake further research and present their findings as a poster or infographic, you could suggest alternative formats for this. You could also give learners more of a scaffold with prompts, eg:

  • Choose a sea creature that will be affected by ocean acidification.
  • State why that creature is affected.
  • Identify what might happen to other creatures, either who eat this organism or who are eaten by it.
  • Use the information on carbonic acid in this worksheet to help you include the chemistry behind your points.

The references below contain a wealth of information, in an accessible form for learners and you may wish to give these, either as a starting point or for sole use in this piece of work.

Link carbon-neutral alternatives to your lessons on ocean acidification and enhance your teaching in this topic area with the articles in this series on Goals 7 (sustainable energy) and 8 (biofuels).

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IAEA brief: nuclear and isotopic techniques help assess ocean acidification and climate change impacts

  • The factors that determine climate are complex. Oceans store about one quarter of the carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted through human activities, and play an important role in limiting impacts of climate change.
  • Increasing carbon emissions and rising temperatures are disrupting oceanic processes, with potentially major consequences for marine ecosystems, the global climate, shoreline protection and coastal industries such as fisheries and tourism.
  • In order to understand and anticipate potential changes in the climate, it is important to understand the processes involved in the global carbon cycle.
  • Increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere cause global warming leading to ocean temperature increase, but also ocean acidification, sometimes referred to as ‘the other CO2 problem’ alongside climate change.
  • The IAEA supports Member States in using radioisotopes to understand the ocean carbon cycle and the ways ocean acidification can affect the marine environment and critical ecosystem services.


The global carbon cycle describes the fluxes of carbon between different environmental compartments (atmosphere, ocean, terrestrial biosphere and sediments). This carbon may be for example in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2) or methane (CH4), both prominent greenhouse gases. It is essential to quantify these changes and stocks of carbon accurately in order to construct the climate models used to predict the impacts of climate change.

At least one quarter of the CO2 released into the atmosphere by anthropogenic activities such as the burning of fossil fuels is taken up by the ocean. Some of this CO2 returns to the atmosphere, and some is exported from surface waters to the deep ocean, where the reservoir of carbon is 50 times larger than that stored in the atmosphere. The ocean provides a vital service to nature through this capacity to regulate atmospheric CO2 emissions.


The absorption of CO2 by the ocean is not without consequences for marine life. It causes ocean acidification: a change in oceanic carbonate chemistry sometimes referred to as the ‘other CO2 problem’. Ocean acidification has emerged as a key global issue in the last decade because of its potential to affect marine organisms and biogeochemical cycles.

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State of global climate in 2021 – WMO provisional report

State of Climate in 2021

Geneva, 31 October 2021 (WMO) – Record atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations and associated accumulated heat have propelled the planet into uncharted territory, with far-reaching repercussions for current and future generations, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

The past seven years are on track to be the seven warmest on record, according to the provisional WMO State of the Global Climate 2021 report, based on data for the first nine months of 2021. A temporary cooling “La Niña” event early in the year means that 2021 is expected to be “only” the fifth to seventh warmest year on record. But this does not negate or reverse the long-term trend of rising temperatures.The report combines input from multiple United Nations agencies, national meteorological and hydrological services and scientific experts. It highlights impacts on food security and population displacement, harming crucial ecosystems and undermining progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. It was released at a press conference on the opening day of COP26.

Global sea level rise accelerated since 2013 to a new high n 2021, with continued ocean warming and ocean acidification.

The report combines input from multiple United Nations agencies, national meteorological and hydrological services and scientific experts. It highlights impacts on food security and population displacement, harming crucial ecosystems and undermining progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

“The provisional WMO State of the Global Climate 2021 report draws from the latest scientific evidence to show how our planet is changing before our eyes. From the ocean depths to mountain tops, from melting glaciers to relentless extreme weather events, ecosystems and communities around the globe are being devastated. COP26 must be a turning point for people and planet,” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.

“Scientists are clear on the facts.  Now leaders need to be just as clear in their actions. The door is open; the solutions are there. COP26 must be a turning point. We must act now – with ambition and solidarity – to safeguard our future and save humanity,” said Mr Guterres in a video statement.

The provisional State of the Climate 2021 report is released at the start of the UN Climate Change negotiations, COP26, in Glasgow. It provides a snapshot of climate indicators such as greenhouse gas concentrations, temperatures, extreme weather, sea level, ocean warming and ocean acidification, glacier retreat and ice melt, as well as socio-economic impacts.

It is one of the flagship scientific reports which will inform negotiations and which will be showcased at the Science pavilion hosted by WMO, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the UK Met Office. During COP26, WMO will launch the Water and Climate Coalition to coordinate water and climate action, and the Systematic Observations Financing Facility to improve weather and climate observations and forecasts which are vital to climate change adaptation.

Key messages


Around 90% of the accumulated heat in the Earth system is stored in the ocean, which is measured through Ocean Heat Content.

The upper 2000m depth of the ocean continued to warm in 2019 reaching a new record high. A preliminary analysis based on seven global data sets suggests that 2020 exceeded that record. All data sets agree that ocean warming rates show a particularly strong increase in the past two decades and it is expected that the ocean will continue to warm in the future.

Much of the ocean experienced at least one ‘strong’ Marine Heatwave at some point in 2021 – with the exception of the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean (due to La Niña) and much of the Southern Ocean. The Laptev and Beaufort Sea in the Arctic experienced “severe” and “extreme” marine heatwaves from January to April 2021.

The ocean absorbs around 23% of the annual emissions of anthropogenic CO2 to the atmosphere and so is becoming more acidic. Open ocean surface pH has declined globally over the last 40 years and is now the lowest it has been for at least 26,000 years. Current rates of pH change are unprecedented since at least that time. As the pH of the ocean decreases, its capacity to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere also declines.

1960-2020 ensemble mean time series
1960-2020 ensemble mean time series and ensemble standard deviation of global ocean heat content anomalies relative to the 2005-2017 climatology. Von Schuckmann et al., 2020.

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Ocean acidification in Africa

A major food fish in African coastal communities, parrotfish such as these rely on healthy coral reefs that could disappear in an acidifying ocean.

Ocean chemistry is rapidly changing

A healthy ocean provides many human services: food, medicine, cultural practices; income from commercial fisheries and tourism; and, coral reefs for coastal storm protection.

In an acidifying ocean, corals are struggling to maintain skeletons that create reefs. Lobsters, oysters, urchins, and many phyo- and zoo-plankton species that build skeletons also suffer from this stress, disrupting the marine food web.

Coastal communities in Africa are being impacted

Many African countries rely heavily on the sea for economic, social, and nutritional services. However, ocean acidification has the potential to negatively affect those marine ecosystems. The losses would be alarming for the African continent. Fisheries and aquaculture currently contribute USD $24 billion to the economy in Africa, employing more than 12 million people across the continent. The fisheries sector is particularly important for rural coastal African populations, which are among the most vulnerable in terms of both food and job security. Due to the growing population and per capita income, demand for fish in Africa is expected to increase 30% by 2030. Ocean acidification, combined with other climatic drivers, may make it difficult to satisfy this need.

Ocean acidification research demands unique local, national, and regional responses

Addressing and mitigating ocean acidification will require a drastic decrease in global CO2 emissions, but it is possible to develop local adaptive solutions to increase ecosystem resilience by addressing specific societal coastal community priorities. Strategic ocean acidification data are critical for the development and implementation of such solutions, including the identification of ocean acidification hot spots.

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State of Hawai‘i ocean acidification action plan 2021 -2031

The State of Hawaiʻi Ocean Acidification Action Plan was developed by the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) with support from the Hawai‘i Department of Health, Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture, the State of Hawai‘i Climate Change and Mitigation Commission, the University of Hawai‘i – School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, University of Hawai‘i Sea Grant College Program, the International Alliance to Combat Ocean Acidification, and many other partners and stakeholders.

This Ocean Acidification Action Plan for the State of Hawai‘i is based feedback from state departments, local experts, and partners on local Hawai‘i issues, and from the International Alliance to Combat Ocean Acidification’s “Action Plan Toolkit”, which was developed through the West Coast Consortium, a partnership of the States of Washington, Oregon, California, and the province of British Columbia.

The State of Hawai‘i activities, projects, and programs that have related to ocean acidification are jointly done by a number of departments and partners. This plan outlines existing activities that State Departments and partners are involved in, as well as forecasting future needs for activities projects, and programs from collaborative partnerships. For this reason, there was effort to put a stand alone plan together as well as integrate ocean acidification and climate considerations into other state plans.

DAR held several webinars to share the recent scientific understand of ocean acidification in Hawai‘i and talk about the ways different states have built their Ocean Acidification Action Plans, and some pathways forward the State of Hawai‘i could take. COVID-19 changed the way that we were able to host meetings and workshops, and so DAR hosted meetings with the contributors with a focus on each Goal related to their expertise to develop objectives and actions. DAR brought the 5 overall goals developed to the State Climate Change and Mitigation Commission for approval as part of the plan development process.

This Ocean Acidification Action Plan is the first of an iterative planning document that provides a strategic vision for developing and coordinating action around ocean acidification and the ocean-climate nexus. The State’s actions will include ways to be understand, adapt, and mitigate, communicate, and network to combat the impacts of ocean acidification in Hawai‘i. In future years, more comprehensive progress reports will include updates of actions implemented by this plan, and edits or changes to suggested actions can be made.

It will be important for State Legislature to create a formal working group of State and County that can guide the implementation and updates to this plan.

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Global ocean climate change: observing from ships

Have you stood on the beach or crossed the ocean on a plane, wondered at the enormous size of the ocean, and possibly thought about how it regulates our climate? Or how our climate is changing? Or what harm our extra carbon dioxide and heat are causing to life in the ocean? The oceans take up heat from the atmosphere and sun, they change their saltiness as they are either evaporated or rained on, and they exchange gases with the atmosphere, including some of the extra carbon dioxide that humans add to the atmosphere. Ocean currents and mixing carry heat and carbon for tens to hundreds of years, and as they move heat and carbon around, the currents alter the atmosphere above. We only have this knowledge because we have been observing the ocean from ships for a century, adding satellites, and drifting instruments in the last few decades.

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Ocean acidification (OA) in the Baltic Sea from a Swedish perspective

This report is produced as part of the project “Baltic Sea Acidification Mitigation” (BALSAM), supported by the Swedish Institute. The aim of this report and other, corresponding reports (produced for the other countries participating in BALSAM) is primarily to inform environmental NGOs and other stakeholders interested in environmental issues. The aim of this country report is to provide information on Ocean Acidification (OA) in the Baltic Sea with special emphasis on Swedish waters, and to provide an insight into the research and monitoring that are the basis of the current understanding of OA in these waters. This is done as support for campaigning towards mitigation of greenhouse gases and protection of the seas. Whereas this document is not a comprehensive literature review, it is intended as a timely guide to the concept of OA, and does contain key publications and links to further indepth reading and sources of additional information.

Ocean acidification (OA) comes in the wake of climate change as the result of increased atmospheric CO2, which is taken up by the oceans. About 30 % of the CO2 that is emitted to the atmosphere because of human activity ends up in the waterbodies. Part of the CO2 reacts with water, and forms carbonic acid. Some of the carbonic acid dissociates, resulting in bicarbonate and in hydrogen ions. This process leads to acidification (lower pH, i.e. higher concentration of hydrogen ions). Organisms in the oceans are adapted to the pH-conditions that have prevailed in the seas prior to this human driven acidification-process. Especially calcifying organisms are sensitive to acidification, but the physiology of many other organisms can be affected as well, as can the complex ecological interactions between organisms. In a global setting, ongoing and projected effects of OA have been extensively described in several IPCC reports (e.g. IPCC, 2018, 2019).

In Sweden, an interdisciplinary review on causes and consequences of OA in the Swedish Seas (including both the Baltic Sea and the more saline waters of Skagerrak at the Swedish west coast), as well as knowledge gaps, was published relatively recently as part of work supported by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (Havenhand et al. 2017). Additionally, in the same context, a scientific review focusing on the ecological consequences of OA was published by Havenhand et al. in 2019. A policy brief1 on OA in the Baltic Sea was furthermore published in 2020 by The Baltic Sea Centre of Stockholm University (Gustafsson & Winder 2020). This policy brief provides a general view of OA as support for policy making.

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Coastal Management Journal – Ocean acidification: insight for policy and integrated management

Today the International Alliance to Combat Ocean Acidification, alongside several U.S. state partners released a special issue of Coastal Management Journal, “Ocean Acidification: Insight for Policy and Integrated Management,” published online by Taylor and Francis.

The special issue examines opportunities and challenges facing U.S. states in responding to ocean acidification (OA) and includes 42 authors representing government and non-government institutions across nine states.

Many of the authors are resource managers on the front lines of addressing OA, using a variety of strategies to assess information needs, develop data sets, build partnerships inside and outside state government and formulate approaches that link ocean change science to management at local and regional scales.

Impacts of climate change and increasing OA pose significant risk to states, communities and economies that enjoy and depend on thriving fisheries and shellfish production related to commercial, subsistence or cultural practices.  Although the issue consolidates current and emerging U.S. state policy directives and practices, local and international actors may benefit from lessons learned and case studies presented—further advancing subnational and national efforts to address climate and ocean change.

“Lessons learned and partnerships forged at a state level have strengthened regional alignment and international vision for action,” said Dr. Caren Braby, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife on the special issue’s contributors.

The issue is comprised of four peer-reviewed articles and two essays, including:

  • Opportunities for State Governments and In-Region Partners to Address Ocean Acidification Through Management and Policy Frameworks (Turner, et al.)
  • Understanding and Advancing Natural Resource Management in the Context of Changing Ocean Conditions (Keil, et al.)
  • Monitoring Ocean Acidification Within State Borders:  Lessons Learned from Washington State (Gonski, et al.)
  • Capacity Building to Address Ocean Change: Organizing Across Communities of Place, Practice and Governance to Achieve Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Resilience in Oregon (Essay by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.)
  • Community Science for Coastal Acidification Monitoring and Research (Gassett, et al.)
  • International and Domestic Leadership by U.S. States on Ocean Acidification (Essay by Ocean Conservancy.)

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Ocean and Cryosphere in Changing Climate (IPCC, 2019) has emphasized that climate change is already having major impacts on our ocean. The report warns that ocean acidification is “virtually certain” to continue to be exacerbated by carbon emissions, with a high emissions path posing the most significant risks for severe and large changes.  The Paris Agreement brought into force by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) provides a framework for 195 nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  

It is against this backdrop that subnational governments, including U.S. states, are sharing information and responding to climate and ocean change by setting ambitious goals and targets of their own to mitigate, adapt and build resiliency.

“State have the advantage of being able to act quickly, innovate and experiment with programs, investments and pilot projects.  They are typically the primary regulator—or strong influencer—in implementing most ocean-based climate solutions and responses,” said Whitney Berry, Senior Manager of Climate Policy, Ocean Conservancy.

For more information, contact Jessie Turner at

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Tie ocean acidification into your chemistry topics

Link UN sustainable development goal 14 to your teaching of dissolved ions, acids and the pH scale

A digital illustration of a swimming turtle with a 14 on its shell
Help your students see the impact that excess carbon dioxide has on the world’s oceans. Source: © hitandrun/Debut Art

Students at 14–16 will be familiar with the composition of the atmosphere and that carbon dioxide is one of the most significant greenhouse gases. The chemistry of the atmosphere and the impact of human activity on climate change is a key area of the 14–16 curriculum.

This article is part of the Sustainability in chemistry series, developed to help you integrate the UN’s sustainable development goals into your teaching of chemistry. It supports Goal 14: conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources.

The oceans play a vital role in atmospheric chemistry by ‘mopping up’ some of the excess carbon dioxide we produce. They cover 70% of the Earth’s surface and have absorbed about a third of the carbon dioxide emitted since the industrial revolution. This links with Goal 14: conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources.

Put it in context

Goal 14 is a good chance to introduce an important context when teaching about the atmosphere and climate change, because people tend to focus on the air around us. They’ll consider emissions from cars and factories and understand the importance of trees in the rainforest, but often ignore interactions between the atmosphere and oceans.

Student worksheet, for age range 14–16

Use this worksheet to explore and develop understanding of the pH scale and apply it in the context of ocean acidification. Extension questions provide more challenge and delve into other aspects of chemistry linked to ocean acidification, leading to a research task on the consequences for marine organisms.

Download the student worksheet as MS Word or pdf and the teacher notes (including answers) as MS Word or pdf.

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Acidification in our ocean

We, as humans, are deeply connected to our ocean whether we realize it our not. Our ocean regulates climate like the heart regulates blood flow in our bodies. Humidity, rain, and temperature are all controlled by our ocean. Burning fossil fuels adds excess heat and carbon dioxide that disrupt this system and make it harder to maintain a stable climate.

OCEAN ACIDIFICATION: Our ocean absorbs excess CO2 when we burn fossil fuels to power cars and create electricity. This excess CO2 increases acidity in our ocean on a global scale.

COASTAL ACIDIFICATION: Nutrients entering the water from land exacerbates acidification in near shore waters.


NOAA Ocean Acidification Program (OAP). Resource.

Resource type: graphic/poster

Resource format: document/pdf

Climate change could alter undersea chemical communication

Ocean acidification could tamper with marine animals’ sense of smell and the shape of signaling molecules.

A pair of spiny lobsters locks antennae as they battle on the gravel-strewn bottom of an aquarium. The two grapple, grabbing legs and jousting with their long spines. Their aggressive actions extend beyond the show of force: the crustaceans also fire off chemical signals by peeing at each other.

Small changes in pH change how female shore crabs (Carcinus maenas) care for their eggs. Credit: Mike Park/University of Hull.

A pair of spiny lobsters locks antennae as they battle on the gravel-strewn bottom of an aquarium. The two grapple, grabbing legs and jousting with their long spines. Their aggressive actions extend beyond the show of force: the crustaceans also fire off chemical signals by peeing at each other.

“They’re actively signaling as they’re fighting,” says Charles D. Derby, a sensory biologist at Georgia State University whose lab studies these underwater wrestling matches, along with other crustacean behaviors. Lobster urine, released from the face near the base of the antennae, contains an array of compounds, including chemical cues to an animal’s sex and social status.

Lobsters are just one of myriad marine animals that rely on molecular missives. Behaviors such as finding meals, choosing habitats, avoiding predators, seeking sex, and engaging in social encounters “are all driven by chemistry, at least in part,” Derby says. By playing key roles in how critters act and relate to each other, chemical signals affect the distribution of organisms in an ecosystem. Chemoreceptors are found not only in noses or mouths; in marine animals, they also show up on fins, limbs, or, as in lobsters, antennae that they flick back and forth.

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OA-ICC Highlights

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