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Ocean Acidification Essay

1131 words - 5 pages

1. The Keeling curve is a measurement of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations in a certain region or space. From this graph it is apparent that carbon dioxide concentrations have gradually increased over 60 ppm (parts per million) in a time span of 50 years. The Keeling curve measurements are substantial because they are able to gradually show the increase of carbon dioxide concentrations although they marginally fluctuate with the seasons due to the interchange of respiration and photosynthesis.

2a. Increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide have led to a drop in pH level because the carbon dioxide bonds with the water in the ocean to form carbonic acid. The carbonic acid dissociates into a hydrogen (+) ion and a bicarbonate ion. This transition of hydrogen ions decreases the overall pH of the ocean water because it increases the amount of hydrogen accumulation.

2b. Decreased pH leads to a decrease in calcium carbonate concentration because the hydrogen concentration is increased which means that there is an increase in bicarbonate concentration because carbonate ions have an affinity to bind with the hydrogen that is present. Therefore the carbonate that is present is binding to the hydrogen ions and not the calcium, which reduces the formation of calcium carbonate.

2c. The bizarre treatment of the hyperventilating student can be attributed to the fact that the pH of his blood wasn’t in balance because he was hyperventilating which reduces the amount of carbon dioxide reaching his hypothalamus which increased the overall pH blood. Breathing into the paper bag was used as a solution because the air being breathed out is trapped in the bag creating a greater carbon dioxide concentration gradient in the lungs allowing his blood to also increase in its carbon dioxide level to bring the overall pH of the blood back to a normal level.

3. A decrease in sea urchin density can reduce coral recruitment and growth because they graze over the algae that coral reefs have to compete with. They maintain resilience and growth of the reefs as they remove the algae that tries to take over the coral habitat. The decline in sea urchins and grazers have also led to decline in other organisms as a demonstration of a damaged ecological feedback process.

4. Increased amounts of atmospheric carbon dioxide can cause increase in the overall global temperature because carbon dioxide absorbs heat energy from the sun and releases it into the atmosphere.

CASE STUDY

Many people in this town that rely on the shellfish industry may be frustrated with the dropping amount of clams and lobsters being harvested. This feeling is completely understandable as it is your means of living. A lot of people have asked for an explanation for why the size of clams have been declining as well as the waning quality of their shells. There are many reasons that you can hold atmospheric carbon dioxide responsible for the declination in harvest. Carbon dioxide may seem harmless to...

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