Fundamental changes to marine chemistry are occurring because of increasing carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. Ocean acidity (H+ concentration) and bicarbonate ion concentrations are increasing, whereas carbonate ion concentrations are decreasing. There has already been an average pH decrease of 0.1 in the upper ocean, and continued unconstrained carbon emissions would further reduce average upper ocean pH by approximately 0.3 by 2100.
Laboratory experiments, observations and projections indicate that such ocean acidification may have ecological and biogeochemical impacts that last for many thousands of years. The future magnitude of such effects will be very closely linked to atmospheric CO2; they will, therefore, depend on the success of emission reduction, and could also be constrained by geoengineering based on most carbon dioxide removal (CDR) techniques. However, some ocean-based CDR approaches would (if deployed on a climatically significant scale) re-locate acidification from the upper ocean to the seafloor or elsewhere in the ocean interior.
If solar radiation management were to be the main policy response to counteract global warming, ocean acidification would continue to be driven by increases in atmospheric CO2, although with additional temperature-related effects on CO2 and CaCO3 solubility and terrestrial carbon sequestration.
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