Although global warming gets a lot of press as being a major issue caused by carbon dioxide the real problem, literally lurking below the surface, is that of ocean acidification. As carbon dioxide dissolves in water it produces carbonic acid (H2CO3) which will disassociate its hydrogen to acidify the water. Although global warming has produced a rise of about one and a half degrees in a century (quite a large amount considering that’s an entire planet increased in temperature) but until a few more degrees come about cataclysmic events should still be quite rare. However, a drop of pH even slightly could wipe out entire ecosystems of creatures.
A recent report has found that a third of all surplus CO2 (the amount humans have added) has been absorbed into the ocean. But although it is easy to say “carbon dioxide dissolves in the sea” the truth is often more complicated. Carbon dioxide will also be released from the ocean and the net movement will be determined by the concentrations in the local area. This means that ocean currents bringing fresh, unacidified water, have a role to play as well. This ocean circulation has also been analysed in the paper and experimentally proven. Since this ocean flow and diffusion are controlled by thermodynamics this paper creates a firm link between carbon dioxide absorption and thermodynamic models. The methods employed can hopefully be reapplied in order to predict future changes in the CO2 absorption rate and give us greater predictive ability.