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All IPCC definitions taken from Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Annex I, Glossary, pp. 941-954. Cambridge University Press.

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Fact Brief - Is ocean acidification from human activities enough to impact marine ecosystems?

Posted on 15 June 2024 by SkS-Team

FactBriefSkeptical Science is partnering with Gigafact to produce fact briefs — bite-sized fact checks of trending claims. This fact brief was written by Sue Bin Park in collaboration with members from the Skeptical Science team. You can submit claims you think need checking via the tipline.

Is ocean acidification from human activities enough to impact marine ecosystems?

YesCarbon dioxide emissions from human activities are acidifying oceans, disrupting marine ecosystems by dissolving the shells and skeletons of certain organisms.

The ocean absorbs at least 25% of the CO2 released in the atmosphere. CO2 reacts with ocean water (H2O) to form carbonic acid (H2CO3), which releases acidifying hydrogen ions (H+).

Ocean acidification is when the pH level of ocean water decreases due to an increase in hydrogen ions.

Hydrogen ions bind to carbonate, making it more difficult for plankton, coral, and other organisms to build their calcium carbonate shells and skeletons.

Because these organisms serve as food and habitat for other marine life, their decline threatens ocean food chains, and by extension human populations that depend on fisheries.

Since humans began burning fossil fuels around 200 years ago, the oceans have become 30% more acidic — a more rapid change than at any time in the last 50 million years.

Go to full rebuttal on Skeptical Science or to the fact brief on Gigafact

This fact brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.


Encyclopædia Britannica PH | Definition, Uses, & Facts

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration What is Ocean Acidification?

European Environment Agency Ocean acidification

About fact briefs published on Gigafact

Fact briefs are short, credibly sourced summaries that offer “yes/no” answers in response to claims found online. They rely on publicly available, often primary source data and documents. Fact briefs are created by contributors to Gigafact — a nonprofit project looking to expand participation in fact-checking and protect the democratic process. See all of our published fact briefs here.

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