Fast-melting Arctic ice is turning the ocean acidic and threatening life
- October 3, 2022
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN Topics
Fast-melting Arctic ice is turning the ocean acidic and threatening life–
Subject : Geography
Context: A team of researchers has flagged the changing chemistry of the western region of the Arctic Ocean after discovering acidity levels increasing three to four times faster than ocean waters elsewhere.
- The team also identified a strong correlation between the accelerated rate of melting ice and the rate of ocean acidification.
- The study, published on ‘Science’, the journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, is the first analysis of Arctic acidification that includes data from 1994 to 2020.
- Scientists have predicted that by 2050,Arctic sea ice in this region will no longer survive the increasingly warm summers. As a result, the ocean’s chemistry will grow more acidic, creating life-threatening problems for the diverse population of sea creatures, plants and other living things that depend on a healthy ocean.
- Crabs, for example, live in a crusty shell built from the calcium carbonate prevalent in ocean water.
- Polar bears rely on healthy fish populations for food,fish and sea birds rely on plankton and plants, and seafood is a key element of many humans’ diets.
- Seawater is normally alkaline, with a pH value of around 8.1.
Researchers point to sea-ice melt as the key mechanism to explain this rapid pH decrease, because it changes surface water in three primary ways–
- The water under the sea ice, which had a deficit of carbondioxide, now is exposed to the atmospheric carbon dioxide and can take it up freely.
- The seawater mixed with meltwater is light and can’t mix easily into deeper waters, which means the carbon-di-oxide is concentrated at the surface.
- The melt water dilutes the carbonate ion concentration in the seawater, weakening its ability to neutralise the carbon dioxide into bicarbonate and rapidly decreasing ocean pH.