Rising acidity, temperatures and water levels are dramatically changing ocean dynamics, shaking up life in the sea.
Prior to the start of the Industrial Economy, ocean conditions had remained relatively stable throughout the 7,000 year Holocene Era. However, since then, oceans have absorbed about 28% of the CO2 produced by human activities. CO2 reacts with sea water to produce carbonic acid. As a result, in some areas ocean pH has lowered as much as 8.15 to 8.05, which equates to a 30% increase in acidity.
This change in balance of minerals makes it more difficult for corals, some types of plankton and other organisms to produce calcium carbonate, which is the main ingredient in their hard skeletons or shells, which threatens their survival.
In addition, the ocean has absorbed more than 90% of the extra accumulated heat energy resulting from higher greenhouse gas levels. This extra energy is warming the oceans, especially in the water closest to the surface. Globally, from 1971-2010, the upper 75 meters of ocean warmed an average of 0.11°C per decade.
During this time, sea levels have also risen an average of 10 inches due to warmer temperatures melting ice, which runs into ocean waters.
To experience these disruptive dynamics first-hand in cocktail form, follow the steps below:
Rohde, R. (2021). Global Temperature Report for 2020. Berkeley Earth. Available from: http://berkeleyearth.org/global-temperature-report-for-2020/ (Accessed on 31 October 2021)
US Environmental Protection Agency, “Climate Change Indicators: Ocean Acidity,” last updated April 2021. www.epa.gov/climate-indicators/climate-change-indicators-ocean-acidity (Accessed on 31 October 2021)
Rajendra K. Pachauri et al. (2014). Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report. Contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Topics 1 and 2: 40-62. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Available from: http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/syr/SYR_AR5_FINAL_full.pdf (Accessed on 31 October 2021)
IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). 2013. Climate change 2013: The physical science basis. Working Group I contribution to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. Available from www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg1 (Accessed on 31 October 2021)
US Environmental Protection Agency, “Climate Change Indicators: Sea Level,” last updated April 2021. https://www.epa.gov/climate-indicators/climate-change-indicators-sea-level (Accessed on 31 October 2021)
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