Key Idea As rising carbon dioxide in the atmosphere mixes with seawater, the ocean acidifies. Measurements at station ALOHA over two decades document that the surface ocean around Hawai‘i has grown more acidic at exactly the rate expected from chemical equilibration with the atmosphere. Continued acidification may have a host of negative impacts on marine biota, and has the potential to alter the rates of ocean biogeochemical processes.
When carbon dioxide reacts with seawater it reduces the availability of dissolved carbonate.

Carbonate (CO3) is vital to shell and skeleton formation in corals, marine plankton, some algae, and shellfish. Ocean acidification could have profound impacts on some of the most fundamental biological and geochemical processes of the sea in coming decades. Plankton is a critical food source that supports the entire marine food chain. Declining coral reefs will impact coastal communities, tourism, fisheries, and overall marine biodiversity. Abundance of commercially important shellfish species may decline, and negative impacts on finfish may occur. This rapidly emerging scientific issue and its potential ecological impacts have raised concerns across the scientific and fisheries communities.


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