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Coastal ocean acidification

Chemical Reactions

Coastal ocean acidification occurs when excess carbon dioxide (CO2) is absorbed by, flushed into or generated in coastal waters, setting off a chain of chemical reactions that lowers the water's pH, making it more acidic. Acidification can affect many marine organisms, but especially those that build their shells and skeletons from calcium carbonate, such as corals, oysters, clams, mussels, and snails. A recent study by Zhaohui "Aleck" Wang (pictured) and colleagues found that regions along the eastern U.S. Coast—particularly the Gulf of Maine—could be especially vulnerable to acidification should CO2 levels rise in those waters. (Photo by Nancy Copley, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)


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