Understanding ocean acidification

Trystan recollects on a visit to a school, where he and his colleague, Kirti, gave a talk about ocean acidification:

“Kirti Ramesh and I were at the Multimar Wattforum in Tönning on the German North Sea introducing school children to ocean acidification which is the process of increased uptake of CO2 by the oceans due to increasing human emissions which is making the oceans more acidic. We gave a short presentation to the children showing how much CO2 the oceans have taken up since the industrial revolution (over 25 %!) and we explained how pH changes can affect the availability of carbon in the water, which is extracted by animals to build their shells. Afterwards, we involved the students in some short practical’s to see for themselves how we can impact the chemistry of seawater. By adding universal indicator to water you can see the colour change with the pH of the seawater. When the students blew bubbles into the seawater they witnessed the pH dropping due to the CO2 in their breath.

We also demonstrated how temperature can affect pH which demonstrates how polar seas and tropical seas can differ in their pH buffering capacity. We also explained how pH changes can affect the availability of carbon in the water which is extracted by animals to build their shells. The day was a lot of fun and many of the young people were fascinated by our activities as none of them had ever heard of ocean acidification. We even got an email from one of the students straight after asking for an internship at our institute!”

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