Inconvenient result: Ocean acidification can also promote shell formation

From the “non-news in the MSM because it doesn’t support the cause” department comes this inconvenient study from the NIOZ ROYAL NETHERLANDS INSTITUTE FOR SEA RESEARCH.

Unexpected result: Ocean acidification can also promote shell formation

Proton pumping accompanies calcification in foraminifera

Microscopic pictures of individual foraminifers. Left: A foraminifer with a shell containing four chambers of which one is empty. Also note the spines. Right: Picture of the interior of a foraminifer. The green colour is caused by seawater with an indicator showing that the acidity has changed. The actual size of the foraminifer is about 0.25 millimeter. CREDIT Dr. Lennart de Nooijer (NIOZ)

Microscopic pictures of individual foraminifers. Left: A foraminifer with a shell containing four chambers of which one is empty. Also note the spines. Right: Picture of the interior of a foraminifer. The green colour is caused by seawater with an indicator showing that the acidity has changed. The actual size of the foraminifer is about 0.25 millimeter. CREDIT Dr. Lennart de Nooijer (NIOZ)

Fact: More carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air also acidifies the oceans. It seemed to be the logical conclusion that shellfish and corals will suffer, because chalk formation becomes more difficult in more acidic seawater. But now a group of Dutch and Japanese scientists discovered to their own surprise that some tiny unicellular shellfish make better shells in an acidic environment. This is a completely new insight.

Researchers from the NIOZ (Royal Dutch Institute for Sea Research) and JAMSTEC (Japanese Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology) found in their experiments that so-called foraminifera might even make their shells better in more acidic water. These single-celled foraminifera shellfish occur in huge numbers in the oceans. The results of the study are published in the leading scientific journal Nature Communications.

Since 1750 the acidity of the ocean has increased by 30%. According to the prevailing theory and related experiments with calcareous algae and shellfish, limestone (calcium carbonate) dissolves more easily in acidic water. The formation of lime by shellfish and corals is more difficult because less carbonate is available under acidic conditions. The carbonate-ion relates directly to dissolved carbon dioxide via two chemical equilibrium reactions.

Self-regulating biochemical magic trick

The classical theory is based on purely chemical processes by which the rate at which lime is created is determined entirely by the acidity of the water. NIOZ researcher and shared first author Lennart de Nooijer: “In our experiments the foraminifera were regulating the acidity at the micro level. In the places where shell formation occurs, the acidity was substantially lower than in the surrounding seawater. Foraminifera expel large amounts of hydrogen ions through their cell wall. This leads to acidification of their immediate micro-environment causing the equilibrium between carbon dioxide and carbonate to change in favour of carbon dioxide. The organism take up the increased concentration of carbon dioxide quickly through its cell wall. On the inner side of the cell wall, a low acidity prevails due to the massive excretion of protons. Under these conditions the ingested carbon dioxide is again converted to carbonate, which reacts with calcium to form lime. Such an active biochemical regulation mechanism has never been found before.”

Can self-regulating single-celled organisms lead to a more rapid global warming?

The surface layer of the ocean is in equilibrium with the atmosphere. Therefore, more carbon dioxide in the air also leads to more dissolved carbon dioxide in the ocean’s surface . “This finding may have important implications for the relationship between carbon dioxide levels in the air and the formation of calcareous structures by organisms,” says co-author Professor Gert-Jan Reichart. “If the classic hypothesis holds and more carbon dioxide leads to less lime production, the oceans can continue to take up CO2 from the atmosphere. But what if the majority of the organisms can regulate the chemical form of their inorganic carbon by biochemical processes like our foraminifers did, and continue to form lime structures in a more acidic ocean? Over time, the concentration of dissolved carbon dioxide in the oceans may start to increase. Consequently, the ability of the oceans to take up a large part of the carbon dioxide in the air may start to decrease. This would mean that more carbon dioxide would remain in the air, leading to a more rapid warming of our planet.”

###

Advertisements

245 thoughts on “Inconvenient result: Ocean acidification can also promote shell formation

  1. What does it mean to “increase acidity” by 30% ? The oceans were and are alkaline. Since pH is a log quantity, are they simply trying to indicate that the pH has shifted by 0.3, i.e. a 30% increase in H+ ions (or equivalent)?

    • The CAGW crowd is expert at using language that distorts reality. Welcome to the post-modern world of Marxist ideology.

    • Its worse. pH is a log scale. Oceans have changed maybe 0.1 pH (measurements are tricky, and it depends on how barrennor fertile the ocean is where measured) based onnbarren Station Aloha. 0.1 pH is a 30% increase in hydrogen ions. So this is a way to ‘accurately exaggerate’.

      • “So this is a way to ‘accurately exaggerate’.”
        No, it’s actually the figure that matters. H⁺ by itself is insignificant; there is far too little of it to change anything. It becomes significant through its participation in equilibria through the law of Mass Action, in expressions like
        [H⁺][CO₃⁻⁻]/[HCO₃⁻]=K
        which relates the far more abundant carbonate species. So at constant [HCO₃⁻] (and it stays reasonably constant), a 30% rise in [H⁺] means a 30% drop in [CO₃⁻⁻]. That is what matters.

      • ristvan, you are right.
        Nick, you are right..
        Most of the world won’t have a clue what you’re talking about – you’ll never get over their misconceptions. This is where physics and chemistry should give way to biology. Ocean acidification is kidology with knobs on.

      • Sorry Nick…. You are wrong. Easy chemistry experiment proves otherwise. Bubble CO2 into a flask of distilled water containing a few grams of finely powdered CaCO3. Guess what happens… the pH stays up around 8 until ALL of the CaCO3 is dissolved. Both the HCO3- and CO3—increase while the H+ stays nearly constant. Sorry to burst your bubble. The lousy experiments done by many of the warmists refuse to buffer their solutions like nature has done.

      • alcheson,
        “the pH stays up around 8 until ALL of the CaCO3 is dissolved”
        Yes, but that is in a context where you say a 30% change is a mere 0.1 pH. In fact, pH is going down (a little) whenever you are adding CO₂. If you take the reaction as
        CaCO₃+CO₂+H₂O ⇌ Ca⁺⁺+2HCO₃⁻
        and assume Ca⁺⁺ is in excess and activity of CaCO₃ is constant until dissolved, then
        [HCO₃⁻]²/[CO₂] = K1 constant
        and from acid-base equilibrium
        [HCO₃⁻][H⁺]/[CO₂] = K2 = constant
        so [H⁺]²/[CO₂]=K2²/K1
        and [HCO₃⁻]/[H⁺] = K1/K2
        The pH is related to the concentration of reagents, and so to the progress of the reaction. It’s because of these ratios that the 30% increase in [H⁺] is the right thing to talk about. It flows through into % changes in the main reagents.

      • Nick. After all these years you have spent over here, how many skeptics have you converted into believing a man made proportion in an atmospheric trace gas (0.04%) controls the atmospheric temperature? Do you really believe having more success by claiming it’s driving the oceanic pH too? And if it would be only that. Now you seem to claim one of the most common rocks in the lithosphere, limestone/chalk (CaCO3), is running out because of this trace gas proportion. Take a break man.

      • Nick… seem to overlook
        HCO₃⁻ H+ + CO₃⁻⁻
        [ H⁺][CO₃⁻⁻]/[HCO₃⁻] = k2= constant
        Or at constant pH…. [CO₃⁻⁻]/[HCO₃⁻] = constant
        Thus at equilibrium as [HCO₃⁻] increases with addition of CO2… so does [CO₃⁻⁻].
        As you just noted, when adding CO2 to a beaker of finally powered calcium carbonate, when you have added enough CO2 to dissolve fully HALF of the calcium carbonate, the pH is….. 8.2.
        Measuring the pH of the top surface layer of water is NOT at equilibrium at that is NOT where the
        Crustaceans live. The floor of the ocean where they live is lined with gigatons of calcium carbonate rich minerals. Even when the atmosphere was at 3000ppm, the oceans were basic and teeming with live and crustaceans. To claim that now, at a mere 400ppm, barely above the threshold to support live, the oceans are going to become an acid bath, dissolving all of our crustaceans is a bit far-fetched and totally without merit.

    • difficult to measure when there is such a variance in Ph-

      pH (Marine) – Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines – CCME
      ceqg-rcqe.ccme.ca/download/en/203
      The pH of marine waters is usually quite stable (between. 7.5 and 8.5 worldwide)

    • It means:
      pH1 ~8.2 (then,… whatever “then” was?)
      pH2 ~8.1 (now)

      pH = -log10 (ah+)

      a(h+1)= 6.31E-09
      a(h+2)= 7.93E-09

      (7.93 – 6.31) / 6.31 x 100% = 26% ~ 30%.

      But the reality is most pH meters today are good to +/- 0.1 pH units. So the difference (8.2 – 8.1 pH) is really still within measurement uncertainty and even worse there were no pH meters in the 18th ceentury. pH and analytic acid base chemistry were not developed until the 2 half of the 19th century.

      • Besides which, how do you determine an average pH for all the oceans of the world now, let alone in AD 1750?

      • http://joannenova.com.au/2011/11/the-chemistry-of-ocean-ph-and-acidification/

        The ocean acidification threat is a big can of worms. I asked Professor Brice Bosnich to help create a quick reference page on the chemistry and was pleased he could find the time to help. Here’s everything you wanted to know about the basics…

        He explains what pH means, and points out that:

        Ocean pH varies by 0.3 naturally.
        Claims of acidification since 1750 are based on dubious models and few observations.

        There are reasons to assume that marine life will not be overly affected by an increase in ocean acidity due to atmospheric carbon dioxide:

        Ocean life evolved and survived far higher levels of CO2 for millions of years in the past.
        Marine organisms actively create carbonate shells (using energy) which means crustacea, corals and molluscs aren’t automatically prey to pH changes in the same way that say a limestone rock would be.
        The world’s oceans may have warmed a mere 0.17C since 1955, hardly a significant threat to marine life.

        We also find out that acidic water is added to the ocean from rainfall and floods (and he explains why raindrops will always be acidic).

      • GM,
        Something else to consider is that the shells of organisms are commonly not bare calcite or aragonite exposed to the water. The organisms often coat their shells with mucus or karatinous coverings to help them resist transient pH changes encountered with upwelling..

      • joelobryan,

        Currently they measure ocean pH colorometric with better than 0.001 pH unit and another feature of the oceans is that in most places one can calculate the pH from other, more accurate known measurements. Thus even from early measurements, but in general that isn’t done, except to compare both methods in modern times.

        There are some 6 fixed stations where there are series of measurements over longer periods, the longest being Bermuda and Hawaii. Here for Bermuda:
        http://www.biogeosciences.net/9/2509/2012/bg-9-2509-2012.pdf
        and for Hawaii:
        http://www.pnas.org/content/106/30/12235.full.pdf

      • “…there were no pH meters in the 18th ceentury.”

        So how do we know the ph changed? Or did the warmists just make it up. 30% is, after all, a nice big scary number. That appears to be it’s sole purpose.

      • Hivemind,

        They calculated the pH from the changes in the atmosphere (measured in ice cores). Ocean pH chemistry is well known. Even if there is local variability (due to seasonal growth of bio-life), the average DIC (all inorganic carbon species together) in the oceans and atmospheric CO2 go up in parallel (10% of the atmospheric change in the oceans).
        That is measured in 6 fixed series over the past decades and over 3 million samples by seaships, be it more sporadic over longer periods. pH in older measurements were by far not sufficient accurate to show the long term pH drop of ~0,1 unit, but can be calculated from other accurate measurements: DIC and total alkalinity. That confirms the general trend. The main change anyway is in the last decades, as the main CO2 increase is in that time span…

        Not that anyone need to worry about such a drop: no fish, coral or foramin has problems with changes of 1 pH unit in a day (measured within coral reefs)…

    • “Since 1750 the acidity of the ocean has increased by 30%”

      It means a load of rubbish.

      There is absolutely no way that could know the pH of the oceans to one decimal place in 1750.

      The maths is done below for the 30% increase

      from a pH of 8.1. it would require something like a 2000% increase in “acidity” (lol) to get to neutral.

      (I did that calc ages ago so number is from memory, someone else can check it if you could be bothered)

      • In 1750 pH measurement was done by titration. Given even the best quality glassware and reagents back then it would have taken extensive multiple calibrations to document the accuracy. Even then the indicator reagents has fairly broad ranges. Phenolphthalein has a useful range at pH 8.2. At pH 8.2 it changes color from colorless to a reddish pink. However, unlike a meter, there is no way to tell if it is 8.2- bit or 8.2+ a bit.

        They also could have used multiple pH indicators with blends of different chemicals. These are often still available as paper strips. The difficulty is that the results depend on the accuracy of the chemical blend and the vision of the analyst. At best they are good for differences of about 1 pH unit. A really good analyst might be able to estimate to .5pH units.

        The only way to accurate results is with instrumentation. It is extremely difficult to measure pH in small volumes such as in the cell membrane of a diatom.

      • “In 1750 pH measurement was done by titration.”
        pH measurement can’t be done by titration. That just balances quantities. What people did do in older times was to measure total alkalinity by titration, and dissolved inorganic carbon gravimetrically. Then you can work out pH from lab equilibrium constants.

      • pH is a measure for the number of free Hydrogen ions in a solution. Therefore, the concept must necessarily be predated by the concept of an ion. This in its turn is intimately related to our knowledge of atomic structure. Which dates to the late 19th and early 20th century. The pH itself made its glorious entry about 1909. So the answer to your question is a resounding NO.

    • There has been no large scale of pH measurements around the globe. There have been a few isolated measurements near land and some a various depths. The pH various considerably from the surface through to depth and various around the globe due upwelling of cold water from depths eg off the western coast of Mexico.The range of pH is 8.3 to 7.6. Nowhere is the ocean acidic. Around Pacific islands such as Fiji, Samoa, Tahiti and Tuvalu the pH has averaged around 8.1 for at least 30 years of measurement. To talk about pH measurements in 1750 before European contact is absolute nonsense. The best one can say with the variaations and accuracy of measurement is that there has been no satistically significant change.

  2. “Since 1750 the acidity of the ocean has increased by 30%.”
    How is it possible that such an ignorant meanless statement is embraced by scientists?

      • “NIOZ conducts fundamental and frontier-applied scientific research in estuarine and delta areas, coastal seas and oceans around the world. The results are published in internationally leading journals, while the research data is made accessible online.”

        Sorry Gary, you don’t get to define who a scientist is. The statement is absolutely supported by people with a doctorate in science and that do research and publish: scientists.

      • Dan,

        To be a scientist, you have to use the scientific method. This false statement is blatantly anti-scientific. Any chemistry undergrad would know better.

      • Dan, you don’t understand. A person with a doctorate is simply incapable of having an agenda or use their position to present science in a way that advances a social agenda. It just can’t happen. It’s quite unpossible.

      • “supported by people with a doctorate in science”

        Who obviously do not know where calcium carbonate comes from.

      • Dan: Men can call themselves women now. I guess language has no meaning, even in the world of science. A scientist is anyone who agrees with global warming, right?

      • PhD often stands for Permanent Head Damage, caused by excessive long term fixation and study of one very limited element of the very many scientific subjects within the many different scientific disciplines. They get tunnel vision and cannot do the lateral thinking needed when elements outside their ultra specialist and narrow domain are involved, and particularly if they have to also attempt to do the joined up thinking needed between more than one subject and discipline!

      • The statement is absolutely supported by people with a doctorate in science and that do research and publish: scientists.

        But Dan? I’ve spent the past 4 decades closely studying the distribution of butt hairs on Nubian Goats. I believe that qualifies me as a climate scientist? So my opinion on the subject is unquestionable.

      • I forgot to mention what my opinion is: Linda Hamilton will give birth to John Conner, who defeats the machines in 2029 by going back in time and killing Arnold Schwarzenegar in 1984.

        Take off your clothes. Give them to me. Now.

    • I stopped reading at that point. They indicated they were activists and not scientists so why bother?

    • Because saying the pH has maybe changed from pH 8.2 (+/- 0.1) down to pH 8.1 (+/- 0.1) over the last 160 years doesn’t sound scary for the alarmist hacks.

  3. Foraminifera expel large amounts of hydrogen ions through their cell wall. This leads to acidification of their immediate micro-environment causing the equilibrium between carbon dioxide and carbonate to change in favour of carbon dioxide. The organism take up the increased concentration of carbon dioxide quickly through its cell wall. On the inner side of the cell wall, a low acidity prevails due to the massive excretion of protons. Under these conditions the ingested carbon dioxide is again converted to carbonate, which reacts with calcium to form lime. Such an active biochemical regulation mechanism has never been found before.

    It would be nice to see if foraminifera´s proton pump can be inhibited by omeprazole.

    • Sorry, but Gaia is not a stable system.. She is constantly sequestering CO2 in the form of shells and carbonates, that means that carbon is constantly being removed from the Carbon Cycle.

      The saw tooth graphs you see, have the atmospheric CO2 content dropping regularly to plant death levels.
      I suspect that at each low point the world had a big die back of the biosphere, with less and less biosphere growing back after each drop.

      Gaia can be truly thankful that humans developed technology that started to release small amounts of sequestered carbon into the carbon cycle. This probably saved the planet.

      • “This probably saved the planet.” Maybe this is just an intelligence test that God threw into the plan? All planets that evolve animal life smart enough to dig out the carbon to save their source of food get a gold star!

      • If you believe in God, you must also believe that HE put all that sequestered carbon there for us to use when we became clever enough to do so. These things don’t happen by accident if there is a God.

        It is therefore your DUTY to follow HIS wishes and use it to the best of your ability.

      • Lots of talk about the reasons for the rapid rise out of the glacial maximum. Could it be to do with the low level of CO2? Could huge die off of plant life cause a rapid temp rise? Some have suggested dust as the cause, would a lot of dead veg cause a lot of dust?

      • Here’s another thought: considering the line about Foraminifera expelling Hydrogen, which of course reacts with Oxygen – I wonder if this isn’t where all of the O2 went since the time of the dinosaurs and the 2′ dragonflies? It’s all bound up into limestone.

      • As it turn out, several recent studies indicate lowered atmospheric CO2 causes a marked decrease in the intelligence of urban millennials (AKA “snowflakes”). Seriously. I read it on the internet.

        It’s just science. No arguing with it…

        PS: I used to be proud to have contributed (like AlGore, ManBearPig) to the creation of the internet. Now I use a pseudonym and pray no one ever finds me.

  4. More lime production = removal of CO2 from oceans = less CO2 uptake from atmosphere?

    Something’s missing.

    • They have confused caused and effect.
      But what if the majority of the organisms can regulate the chemical form of their inorganic carbon by biochemical processes like our foraminifers did, and continue to form lime structures in a more acidic ocean? Over time, the concentration of dissolved carbon dioxide in the oceans may start to increase.

      What is missing is their appreciation for increased foraminifera lime production will act to reduce dissolved CO2 in the ocean. It is a buffering process. Therefore it allows for more CO2 update into the oceans than if the process did not exist.

  5. ” Such an active biochemical regulation mechanism has never been found before.”””

    total BS….this has been known for decades

      • Either you have misunderstood the subtleties of the paper (based on a very quick skim), or the reviewers, selected because of their expertise in the field, were unaware that the paper is simply reproducing textbook knowledge I know where my money is.

  6. “Since 1750 the acidity of the ocean has increased by 30%.”

    Really!?

    So: What was the representative/average (?) ocean pH in 1750? How many measurements were made and under what conditions? What was the range of pHs found? Where were they made – near cities, atolls, coral reefs. Where?

    What is the generally accepted average (?) pH today? I have read typical values of pH 7.9 to pH 8.1. And again, the same questions posed above apply as to how it has been measured.

    For such a vague statement as “Since 1750 the acidity of the ocean has increased by 30%” those postulating “acidification” need to present some quantitative, confirmed information to support their contention and for others analyze.

    Otherwise, they utter only meaningless assertions…

      • GM,
        It is my recollection that the claimed value for the pre-industrial seawater pH was obtained with a model. When I was looking into this previously, I was left with some questions about the veracity of the results of the model. In any event, apparently historical pH measurements have been ignored by the climate-science community because of concerns about sampling protocol. However, the same concerns could be raised about sea surface temperatures; however, they haven’t been!

      • Gloateus Maximus,

        That is not the “best evidence”, the best evidence are ice core CO2 measurements, as that are direct measurements of CO2 in air. The only disadvantage is that it is averaged over 10 to 600 years, depending of the snow accumulation rate (and thus the speed with which the pores are fully closed).

        Stomata data are proxies, which depend of the average CO2 levels in the local atmosphere (on land) of the previous growing season, which have a bias compared to “background” CO2 levels. That is compensated for by calibrating the stomata data against… ice cores data for the past century.
        Local CO2 levels depend of what happens in the main wind directions: growth and decay, change in landscape, agriculture, traffic and industry in recent centuries… Even the main wind direction may have changed in certain periods, like between MWP and LIA…

        Thus simply said: if the average CO2 level of the stomata data differs from the average CO2 level in the ice core for a period of at least the resolution of the ice core, then the stomata data are wrong and should be recalibrated againts the ice core data…

  7. predicted this too… oceans are self buffering systems.

    more added acid source = more neutralization from dissovled minerals

  8. The level of atmospheric CO2 could be described as increasing by 30% since 1750.. maybe then in their logic the acidity change HAS to be 30% as well, since the dissolved CO3 rises proportionately. If so, it does not represent the actual PH change, ie, the REAL shift towards acidity.

  9. IMO, it’s incorrect to call forams “shellfish”, since they aren’t animals. They’re protozoan protists, fairly close to animals, but as unicellular organisms, not technically metazoa.

    Forams have survived major extinction events and flourished under climates much hotter than now and CO2 regimes much higher for going on 600 million years, so concern over ocean “acidification” (actually slight neutralization or lessened alkalinity) is much ado about nothing.

    • No! As soon as humans find out about things, they become crisis situations. You know, like when we find a species we thought was extinct for centuries and we suddenly are convinced it will become extinct because we know about its existence now. Humans are sooooo powerful they can wipe out millions of years of existence merely by knowing about it. It’s mind-boggling.

    • GM, to us botanists, there are only autotrophs and heterotrophs. The latter evolved to live off the former, like parasites……..(:

  10. It isn’t even possible for the ocean to become acidic.

    Would dissolving all the CO2 released by burning all the world’s fossil fuel reserves ever make the seas acidic?

    No. The fundamental chemistry of the ocean carbon system, including the presence of calcium carbonate minerals on the ocean floor that can slowly dissolve and help neutralize some of the CO2, prevents the oceans from becoming acidic on a global scale. link

    We all knew that didn’t we.

  11. “Fact: More carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air also acidifies the oceans.”

    Not true! Seawater is not distilled water. It is a complex buffer that resists changes in pH, particularly by such a weak acid as carbonic acid derived from CO2 in water. This is part of the junk science being promulgated out there to misinform the public.

    It is no surprise that more CO2 leads to more calcification lion. There are two reasons. First, there is a long series of equilibria from CO2 to carbonic acid to bicarbonate ion to carbonate ion to calcium carbonate solid. The protons given off by carbonic acid and bicarbonate ions cannot affect its own equilibrium. An outside source of protons would be a different situation. Second, living cells have cell physiology, and power to control their internal pH is part of this. Marine organisms are quite resilient with external pH changes as photosynthesis is an alkalizing process, raising the pH in a bay or estuary from about 8.4 to 10-11. At night, respiration bring the pH back down. It is also known that the water passing through a coral reef comes out decidedly less alkaline as organic waste is put into the water. Reefs acidify the oceans; oh no, now we have to get rid of the reefs.

    As with the global temperature, in which the temperature is changing all day long all over the world, the pH is also changing as metabolic processes of life are constantly living and doing their thing.

  12. The whole concept of ocean acidification is absurd. Oceanic CO2 concentration is more than one hundred times that of the atmosphere, yet the oceans remain stubbornly alkaline. This can only mean that the oceans are buffered, so that minor changes in oceanic CO2 concentration will have almost no effect. Changing the atmospheric concentration by 40%, from about 280 ppm to 400 ppm, will only change the CO2 concentration in the surface layers of the ocean by one or two percent at most. This will have almost no effect whatsoever on oceanic pH.

    We know from the GEOSECS program what the oceanic alkalinity and CO2 levels were on a world-wide basis in the 1970’s. In spite of all the foofawraw about ocean acidification, no-one has bothered to go out and make a similar set of measurements again and compare them with the 1970’s data. This suggests to me that the acidifists don’t want to do this in case they get an inconvenient result.

    • I join with those who think we should not cave to the semantic infiltration of the alarmists. The term “ocean acidification is a term of propaganda, and is always misleading and false. Never use the term seriously or even ironically, without the proper explanation, and never let it stand unchallenged.

      If you absolutely must have a two-word phrase, use the far more accurate term “ocean neutralization” instead, even though this term, too, is highly misleading to people who don’t understand how alkaline the ocean really is.

      • Agreed. I stress this often. “Acidification” is used only to cause panic. It has no other purpose. When referring to what is happening to the ocean, I prefer saying “There is a decrease in alkalinity”.

      • Sheri, I presume you have no argument with the substance of the paper, or the idea of ocean acidification, but simply object to the terminology. It actually makes no difference to the science if we call it reduced alkalinity or acidification.

      • Acidification used to be a technical chemical term for adding an acid to another solution to change its pH. Now it has become a political term to scare people, such as in this paper. The same for the 30% term. No chemist would use it because it is the wrong term for describing what happens in a buffer solution. The correct term would be ‘lowers the pH from 8.2 to 8.1’. 30% is a meaningless political scare term.

  13. “Under these conditions the ingested carbon dioxide is again converted to carbonate, which reacts with calcium to form lime. Such an active biochemical regulation mechanism has never been found before.”

    Such an active biochemical regulation mechanism was never allowed to be talked of before.

  14. Fact: More carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air also acidifies the oceans.

    This is both inaccurate (CO2 makes the oceans less alkaline)
    and
    grossly misleading.

    The author of the WUWT post, to promote science truth, would be well served by being more careful in his writing. The way it is written, the above quote is the WUWT author’s own, with the Dutch study results cited below it. This creates a mistaken impression that the author is pro-AGW, thus, risking promoting misleading misinformation.

    WUWT does not need to promote the conjecture of AGW to ward off the anti-free speech “net neutrality” police. THIS IS A PRIVATE BLOG. This is not a provider of internet access such as a server or a public forum blog. Further, even if fear of the internet police is why there is quite a bit of this type of apparently pro-AGW writing on WUWT, state what you are doing explicitly, i.e., put a disclaimer with every pro-AGW slanted article to the effect of, “This is junk science — I’m publishing it to satisfy net neutrality.”

    I am concerned, for, it creates a shadow over Anthony’s good name (and I still believe he is a man of integrity who thinks CAGW is junk science), for, generally speaking:

    Careless and imprecise language is no accident.
    It is a conscious attempt to confuse and deceive.

    George Orwell

    • Janice, thanks for your reply. One issue. You quote Orwell, viz:

      Careless and imprecise language is no accident.
      It is a conscious attempt to confuse and deceive.

      George Orwell

      While this may have been true back in the day when most writers were well-educated, that was before every idiot with a keyboard decided that they were God’s gift to the English language …

      These days “careless and imprecise language” is the rule rather than the exception …

      w.

      • Agreed, Willis. In the day and age of the internet, language is fast becoming a casualty of everyone getting their say, no matter how poorly they say it. One even sees it in the news, where a six sentence “story” is considered the norm in some places.

      • Acidosis:
        Acidosis is an increased acidity in the blood and other body tissue (i.e. an increased hydrogen ion concentration). If not further qualified, it usually refers to acidity of the blood plasma.

        Acidosis is said to occur when arterial pH falls below 7.35 (except in the fetus – see below), while its counterpart (alkalosis) occurs at a pH over 7.45. Arterial blood gas analysis and other tests are required to separate the main causes.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acidosis

      • We saw it with you and that insufferable

        “Steel Shell of Stupid”.

        You’ve been a leader in barking pseudo-science till real atmospheric chemistry and radiation specialists can’t even stand to be around when you are.

        But you watch and see: we’re gonna bury your fake pseudo-science the way we’re going to bury all the rest of it: NEVER even BLINKING.

        You climbed aboard the fake atmospheric sciences train and have ridden it into the ground.

        Now the President as well as the rest of us have told you: It’s a scam. End of story, it’s not even partly real.

        You’re one of the NON scientists who INSERTED YOURSELF: without qualification or experience in ANY of the fields at hand,

        you’re one of the ones we’re going to erase all mention of, and move on trying to forget ever shat on our beloved sciences.

      • urederra: Acidosis of the body tissues is not the same as a reduction in ocean alkalinity. Some do call an increase in H+ concentration “acidifying” but some also call it getting warmer when it goes from -20° F to -10°F. Technically correct, but logically and rationally lacking. It depends on the definition of “acidification”. The fact remains that the term used in global waming is a scare tactic. There is no reason to not say the ocean is becoming less alkaline except it doesn’t terrify people like “acidic” does. At least with the “warmer”, it’s not designed to scare people.
        (Ketoacidosis is a much cooler word, by the way. Check that one out.)

      • “but some also call it getting warmer when it goes from -20° F to -10°F. Technically correct, but logically and rationally lacking. ” This is really too much. In what way is going from -20F to -10F NOT getting warmer? This is just English for god’s sake. How can you possibly think that going form -20F to -10F is not getting warmer? This is beyond my ability to comprehend. Please, please, please show me why this is logically and rationally lacking when it seems to be absolutely built in the the meaning of the terms.

        Anyone who can think that this temperature change is not getting warmer seems to lack any ability to use and understand language.

      • ” -20° F to -10°F. Technically correct, but logically and rationally lacking.”
        So at what temperature is it permissible to say that it is getting warmer?

      • Changing from -20 to -10F is not warming because either one can kill you easily. The weathermen say “tomorrow it won’t be as cold as today, up to -10F “. Saying it’s warming is more appropriate for livable temperatures. I don’t think any arab in the Sahara would say “I’m glad it’s cooler today, only 32C, not 33.”

      • Some examples:
        “Sunspots are darker, cooler areas on the surface of the sun.”
        “Fractional distillation
        The liquefied air is passed into the bottom of a fractionating column. Just as in the columns used to separate oil fractions, the column is warmer (-185C) at the bottom than it is at the top (-190C).”

        The terms warmer and cooler are often used for temperatures outside out normal environmental temperatures.

        You are entitled to use words in your own way if you want. What you are not entitled to do is assume bad faith and attempts to deceive if other people use words that comply to normal usage rather than your own peculiar interpretation.

    • Janice —
      It was quite clear to me that the paragraph beginning “From the ‘non-news in the MSM because it doesn’t support the cause’ department…” was by Anthony, and that everything from “Unexpected result” down was from a press release issued by the NOIZ Royal Netherlands Institute promoting a recent article by their researchers, with no endorsement by WUWT.

      But given that the final quote from co-author Gert-Jan Reichart makes no sense, it appears that the division of labor was that Lennart de Nooijer provided the science while Reichart was in charge of the obligatory AGW alarmism.

      • Nick: As someone who refuses to watch videos to get my news or science, I agree. Everything is graphs and pictures and videos. The written word is fading fast, even in science and other areas one would not expect.

    • Urederra – you’ll notice that both pH 7,35 and 7,45 are slightly alkaline. Acidosis is only acidification relative to a norm (7,4). Fun, but please don’t get hung up on the terminology, as people here do every time the subject comes up.

    • Willis, you put that in quotes, but I do not see that in the article. Nobody said “we’re all gonna die anyhow” These are the exact words I disagree with, and you have invented a quote.

      • seaice1 January 27, 2017 at 3:58 pm

        Willis, you put that in quotes, but I do not see that in the article. Nobody said “we’re all gonna die anyhow” These are the exact words I disagree with, and you have invented a quote.

        Only a man looking to pick nits would pretend that what I put up there was supposed to be an actual quote of what they said. Consider the context and the all caps.

        Alternatively, you’re too stupid to understand that “scare quotes” are different than regular quotes …

        Your choice,

        w.

  15. “But what if the majority of the organisms can regulate the chemical form of their inorganic carbon by biochemical processes like our foraminifers did, and continue to form lime structures in a more acidic ocean? Over time, the concentration of dissolved carbon dioxide in the oceans may start to increase. Consequently, the ability of the oceans to take up a large part of the carbon dioxide in the air may start to decrease. This would mean that more carbon dioxide would remain in the air, leading to a more rapid warming of our planet.”
    _____________________________________________

    Over time, the concentration of dissolved carbon dioxide in the oceans may

    not start to increase but stay unaffected because of that little acid hatching foraminifera.

    Consequently, the ability of the oceans to take up a large part of the carbon dioxide in the air may

    stay the same.

    This would mean that

    not more carbon dioxide would remain in the air,

    leading to a less rapid warming of our planet.”

  16. that some tiny unicellular shellfish make better shells in an acidic environment. This is a completely new
    henry says
    nothing new about this
    I told you just the other day on a similar ocean acidification thread that the bugs in the cooling towers that I was supervising seemed to thrive when the pH went below 7. Presumably lower pH brings more minerals in the water giving them more building material?

    • HenryP,
      And there are lots of organisms that do very well in acidic swamp waters, rich in carbonic acid, humic acid, and other weak organic acids. One of the differences is that fresh water is lacking the strong buffering found in sea water.

      • Clyde, so the critters do their own buffering? That should only surprise those who get their Degrees from a cereal box…

  17. Jim Steele has athoughtful article on how coral reefs regulate local reef pH through similar biological mechanisms. Is not a surprise that forams do likewise.

  18. In many freshwater streams, the pH is acidic (5.0 in Scotland streams) and freshwater mussels, clams, and microscopic shell forming organisms thrive. The invasive Zebra mussel from European waterways is a prime example. Since pH changes in a broad range in coastal areas daily, the answer to the question of “what will happen to shellfish?” They will adapt.
    Previous posts are correct; language has been corrupted by alarmists, and “less alkaline” is labelled “more acidic”, CO2 is called pollution, and those who can demonstrate that climate change is natural are called “deniers”. Perversion of language leads to perversion of thought.

  19. I still take exception to the meme that slightly reducing the pH of a buffered alkaline solution results in it being “acidified”; it is simply less alkaline.

    The statement, “…chalk formation becomes more difficult in more acidic seawater.”. is very misleading. Chalk formation in acidic water would be impossible. If the water were to become “more acidic” it wouldn’t make any difference. In any event, truly acidic water is unknown in the open oceans and, because of the strong buffering, no geochemist worth their chalk thinks that it is even possible for seawater to become acidic by natural means.

    There is good evidence that different species of calcite/aragonite-forming organisms have differentl optimal pH ranges for producing shells. This probably reflects the prevailing pH conditions during the time the organisms evolved.

    Once again, “A pH decline from 8.20 to 8.10, the commonly claimed recent change in seawater, (http://www.whoi.edu/fileserver.do?id=165564&pt=2&p=150429) amounts to a change of -1.2% on the pH scale (-0.1/8.20) and it would take a change of about -15% to reach neutrality (pH = 7). It is disingenuous to cite an equivalent change of 30% in the untransformed active hydrogen-ion concentration (http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/alex-mifflin/oceans-co2-seafood_b_7286392.html) without noting the percentage change required to reach even neutrality, let alone an actual significant acid condition. The alleged change that has occurred in hydrogen-ion concentration is actually about 25% (The value usually cited is rounded up considerably!). It would take a change of nearly 1500% in the hydrogen-ion concentration to reach neutrality. That is, there has been a percentage change of about 1.7% (25/1500) of hydrogen ion concentration necessary to reach neutrality. Inflating numbers and not putting them in context seems to me to be an act of hyperbole that raises a question of objectivity.” [ https://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/09/15/are-the-oceans-becoming-more-acidic/ ]

    So much for “Facts.”

    • “It would take a change of nearly 1500% in the hydrogen-ion concentration to reach neutrality.”
      And what happens when you get to “neutrality”. Absolutely nothing – it is of no significance here. An acid-base reaction consists of the transfer of protons (or electron pairs if you use the more general Lewis concept, as you should). It is the transfer of protons to carbonate, and the subsequent dissolution of calcium carbonate, that is the effect being watched. And that has nothing to do with pH 7; it all happens at higher pH, as you say. No use saying to the shellfish – well, we didn’t reach pH 7.

      The process of adding any source of protons is correctly described as acidification. There is no pH level that makes that usage inappropriate. Just as adding heat to something is heating. It doesn’t matter whether it is an ice cube or a furnace.

      • Nick Stokes January 27, 2017 at 11:57 am

        The process of adding any source of protons is correctly described as acidification. There is no pH level that makes that usage inappropriate. Just as adding heat to something is heating. It doesn’t matter whether it is an ice cube or a furnace.

        Not true in the slightest. There is an entire field of study on “neutralization“, which I clearly remember from high school chemistry. For those who took it, remember measuring pH by a process called “titration”? We’d start out with say a solution of unknown alkalinity. To that solution we would gradually add an acid (a source of protons”) in order to NEUTRALIZE the solution.

        So there is a whole field, titration, where “the process of adding any source of protons is correctly described as” NEUTRALIZATION.

        I love it when you get on your high horse and start spouting about absolutes, saying that there are none of these, saying things are always some way or another, some kind of absolute statement without any qualifiers. It makes it so easy to falsify your claims.

        But the craziest part is watching you wiggle and twist to try to do the one thing I’ve never, ever seen you do—admit that you were wrong on even the most insiginificant point. You seem totally unaware that admitting error makes people respect and believe you MORE, not less. A man who never admits error is a man who can never be trusted.

        That process starts in 3 … 2 … 1 …

        w.

      • Nope. An acidic solution has a ph 7.0 it is not an acid, it doesn’t have the properties of an acid, adding protons does not make the solution more of something that it is not.

        acidify
        [uh-sid-uh-fahy]

        verb (used with or without object), acidified, acidifying.
        1.
        to make or become acid; convert into an acid.
        2.
        to make or become sour.

        Heating is a false analogy. It’s like saying you are liquefying an ice cube by raising its temperature from -50 C to -30 C. Ice and water are different phases with a distinct boundary, just like acid and base, and a warmer ice cube is no more water than a less basic solution is an acid.

      • Willis,
        Yes. And your wiki article goes on to say, in the case of weak acids and strong bases
        “The pH of the neutralized solution is not close to 7, as with a strong acid, but depends on the acid dissociation constant (pKa) of the acid.”
        With a weak acid (CO₂) here, and a moderate base (CO₃⁻⁻) this is even more true. It is pKa that matters. And for carbonate, that is about 9.13.

      • Derp, I somehow bungled that sentence badly. That first sentence should read:

        An acidic solution has a ph less than 7.0. A base has a ph greater than 7.0, it doesn’t have the properties of an acid, adding protons does not make the solution more of something that it is not.

      • RWTurner,
        “verb (used with or without object)”
        Well, if you want to rely on dictionaries, here is Cambridge:
        “to become an acid or to make something become an acid”
        And their example of usage:
        “the problem of ocean acidification”

      • @ Nick Stokes
        @ Willis Eschenbach
        @ Everybody else who engages in this debate
        I would not respond, except this issue comes up every single time.
        stop it. Stop It. STOP IT!

        Do you use the “Centigrade” scale or the “Celsius” scale?
        Do you use the calorie or the Joule?
        Why?
        The standards changed, the nomenclature changed. The world changed alongside.
        Modern nomenclature (ca. l970s) is when you go from any pH to a lower one, it is called acidification.
        This is simply because the concentration of proton has increased. Nothing more, nothing less.
        {If Global Warming alarmists exploit the term “acidification” for propaganda purposes, the chemist says “So What”}

        Unfortunately, and it pains me greatly to say this:

        The process of adding any source of protons is correctly described as acidification. There is no pH level that makes that usage inappropriate.

        Nick is right.

        There is an entire field of study on “neutralization“, which I clearly remember from high school chemistry.

        Me too. Times changed.

        The best sense of the term “neutralization” is currently a process which ends up at a neutral pH, and of course, from either direction.

        As an aside:
        @ Nick

        (or electron pairs if you use the more general Lewis concept, as you should)

        so what is Lowry-Bronsted theory, fish food?

      • Is your goal to use as much sophistry as possible so that no one even bothers correcting you?

        By going with your Cambridge example, you are insinuating that the surface of the oceans are acidic?

      • Willis – can’t see anything wrong with what Nick is saying. In terms of carbon chemistry pH7 is just an abitrary point, and I just can’t understand this perennial argument about the terminology.

        But for what it’s worth, I’ve no doubt that atmospheric CO2 levels aren’t going to change the ocean biota in any significant way.

      • TonyL,
        Thanks for your observation – I’ll be happy to stop it.
        “Lowry-Bronsted theory, fish food?”
        No, it’s like Newtonian mechanics. Fine when it works, which is mostly. But there are situations where it doesn’t, and this is one. The reaction
        CO₃⁻⁻+CO₂+H₂O ⇌ 2HCO₃⁻
        is an acid-base reaction. And although protons may be involved in mechanism, they aren’t a reagent. Lewis theory makes sense of this.

      • Here is NOAA´s tendentious excuse for using scary terminology:

        http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/co2/story/A+primer+on+pH

        Even the terminology of chemisrty is being corrupted by the CACA conspiracy. Apparently in Newspeak acidify means to increase hydrogen ion concentration and not to make acid. In Oldspeak, increasing proton concentration is a basic solution meant to make it more neutral or less alkaline, not acidic.

      • Tony, it is simply IMPOSSIBLE to become more of something that you are not. You’re using just as much sophistry as Nick to attempt to make a point.

        Every single chemistry book you find will include the definition I provided above. To acidify or acidification involves becoming an acid, and there is a distinct boundary between being a base or an acid. Just like a phase change is a distinct boundary, you aren’t liquefying gas by cooling it down UNLESS there is a phase change, just like you aren’t acidifying a base by decreasing its pH, UNLESS you cross over that boundary where there are more H+ than OH-. There is a distinct boundary that defines the two. Get it? No scientific terminology has changed, just the increased use of misnomers, i.e. calling glacial periods ice ages. Scientists and anyone trying to have a discussion about science should steer away from misnomers.

      • RWTurner
        “you are insinuating that the surface of the oceans are acidic?”
        No, and that’s not meaningful to me. I wouldn’t use the dictionary as an authority on chemistry. But you cited it, and I just point out that they also give “ocean acidification” as an example of correct usage.

      • No Nick, if the pH drops from 8.2 to 8.1, the liquid has become LESS ALKALINE..

        or maybe a better term to go with HYPE of the acidification scammers… LESS CAUSTIC. !!. !!

      • Nick,
        A pH of 7 is important because, for the dissociation constant of water, it is the point on the pH scale where there are equal quantities (equal ratio) of hydrogen and hydroxyl ions. It is called “neutral” for the reason that a water solution of pH 7 is relatively unreactive, unlike battery acid. Also, the way that an alkaline solution reacts with metals is different than for an acid solution. That is why the different halves of the pH scale have been given different names, because the different pH regimes behave differently when in contact with other substances. It is not a continuum as with temperature, as you suggest. As the pH is lowered below 7, there is an excess of hydrogen ions that are free to react with other anions that might be present. In the case of a system with carbonate anions, it will shift the equilibrium and cause CO2 gas to be evolved. That is, if you drop an alkaline (or neutral) solution on a piece of limestone, nothing significant will happen. If you drop an acid on the limestone, CO2 will be given off.

        So, semantics ARE important because they convey information. If you insist on maintaining that all solutions are “acidic” because there are always some hydrogen ions present, one cannot tell what would happen if you drop your “acidic” solution on a piece of limestone. However, if one uses the conventional and historical definition, it will be obvious as to what the reaction is going to be if one specifies whether the solution is alkaline or acidic. Your naming schema is information poor.

        I can see no good reason to maintain that all solutions are “acidic” other than to scare laymen who know nothing about chemistry.

        You have brought up the Lewis theory before, and I pointed out at that time that it is not mainstream, and only finds use in special applications. You apparently find it convenient to cling to it to rationalize your revisionist definitions of chemistry.

      • Clyde Spencer,
        “it is the point on the pH scale where there are equal quantities (equal ratio) of hydrogen and hydroxyl ions”
        In pure water, or with certain other ions such as Cl⁻. But as noted in the wiki ref Willis cited, as soon as you have a weak acid or base, all that changes, and the neutral point is the pKa of the buffer. The reason is that H⁺ and OH⁻ are present in very small amount, but the weak acid/base is present in large molar amounts, and dominates any acid/base transactions. That is buffering, and pH 7 doesn’t matter any more.

        “an alkaline solution reacts with metals is different than for an acid solution”
        Not necessarily. Al reacts as well with NaOH as with HCl. And Na with anything. But this is all redox anyway, not acid/base.

        “I pointed out at that time that it is not mainstream, and only finds use in special applications”
        That’s actually not true. Lewis theory is what we learnt at school. And it’s no more complicated than Lowry-Bronsted; electron pairs are traded instead of protons. It’s just simpler when there is no obvious protonic reagent as here, which is in the end a reaction between CaCO₃ and CO₂.

    • The fact is that the term acidification is not important. We could substitute “reducing pH” or “increasing H+” or “reducing alkalinity” and the meaning would be the same. It is pointless to get hung up on meaningless semantics. Everyone who objects to the term please just substitute it for reducing pH and see if it makes any difference to the conclusions. The answer is that it does not. This is not a significant point, merely a distraction for those that need to find something to object to.

      • seaice1,
        If you feel that the terminology is “not important,” then why not stick with the conventional usage of acid and base? Prior to about a decade ago one could not find the term “ocean acidification” in scientific literature. What does the term bring to the table other than possibly scaring those who slept through their chemistry classes?

  20. The summary here is written extremely simplistically.

    “The surface layer of the ocean is in equilibrium with the atmosphere.”

    What exactly is meant by “surface layer”? The upper 1 meter? Or some other depth? How much mixing occurs between this arbitrarily-defined surface layer and the rest of the ocean’s depths, which average about 3,700 meters in depth world wide? Obviously, the greater the mixing, the greater the mass of seawater at equilibrium compared to the total mass of seawater. In any event, the mass of water that is below the surface layer, however defined, is thousands of times greater than the thoroughly mixed, at-equilibrium surface water layer. Or course there is also the matter of the temperature of the surface water and its resultant effect on the solubility of CO2. Deep ocean currents and upwelling, particularly at the margins of the continents in the direction of those currents, add a great deal of mixing too.

    Like everything else in the science of climate change and its affects on the biosphere and geochemistry, and feedback effects from the biosphere and geochemistry on climate, nothing is simple or easy to figure out or model. Way too many processes both macro and micro to fit conveniently into any climate modeler’s computer code.

    • Duane Truitt January 27, 2017 at 10:46 am Edit

      The summary here is written extremely simplistically.

      “The surface layer of the ocean is in equilibrium with the atmosphere.”

      What exactly is meant by “surface layer”?

      Typically, when such a statement is given without qualifiers it means the “mixed layer”. This is the top thirty metres or so of the ocean. It is the part that is regularly mixed by wind, wave, and nocturnal overturning. As a result, conditions such as pH, salinity, or CO2 content are fairly constant in that region.

      w.

      • Thanks for the generic clarification you cite, Willis. The point is, I think, that non-scientifically literate readers see this stuff as written, and come away with the notion that there is some sort of instantaneous maintenance of equilibrium between atmospheric CO2 concentration and full-water-column oceanic CO2 concentration, which of course is not true and would be a gross oversimplification.

        If one assumes a 30 m mixing layer at the surface, as compared to a total water column average depth of 3,700 m, then the ratio of mass at equilibrium to the mass not at equilibrium is 1:123. And I rather expect that a 30m mixing layer is on the high end, given that most ocean waves average only about 1-2m most of the time, except during major windstorms which are only very temporary events.

  21. As the pH is a system buffered with CaCO3/HCO3- the initial assumption that adding CO2 drops the pH and lowers the CO3—concentration is faulty. Until all of the CaCO3 has been dissolved the equilibrium pH in the ocean is going to stay relatively unchanged with the net effect of both HCO3- and CO3—increasing. Thus as CO2 is added to the oceans, the amount of CO3—goes UP, not down. You are increasing the building material concentrations for shell forming species as CO2 is added, so why should it be all that surprising that increasing CO2 actually grows shells faster??

    • “You are increasing the building material concentrations for shell forming species as CO2 is added”
      But you are dissolving what they are trying to build. The thing is that adding CO₂ shifts the equilibrium toward solution of CaCO₃. And if there isn’t limestone handy, then shells will dissolve.

      • The article makes it clear that will not happen, Nick. Foram carbonate deposition is an energy-driven mechanism. It does not rely on the equilibrium chemistry of carbonate, and is not subject to it.

        It appears that forams actually acidify their immediate environment to change the local carbonate equilibrium in favor of CO2. The dissolved CO2 is neutral and lipophilic, and able to migrate across their cell membrane into the cytosol. Inside the foram, within the cytosol, CO2 is reconverted to carbonate, and shell deposition then proceeds.

        That being true, a mild reduction in water alkalinity is to their advantage, because the concentration of dissolved CO2, their active bio-reagent, then increases.

        Shell production is all driven by ATP hydrolysis. The biochemistry, like life itself, is a far-from-equilibrium process.

      • NIck… most shell forming species are crawling around on the floor of the ocean… covered in CaCO3 rich material… not swimming up near the surface.

      • Nick
        the simplified equation for the sinking of CO2 is
        Cold + 4H2O + 2CO2 (g) =.> 2HCO3- + 2H3O+

        however, if the fact [that you claim to be true] is that earth is getting warmer, net,
        then the opposite reaction is what is happening [more]

        Heat + HCO3- => CO2 (g) + OH-
        i.e. more alkalinity.

        Hence, the current warm period is likely to outgas more CO2 [tropics] than it dissolves CO2 (polar regions).

        You cannot have it both ways. You cannot claim ocean acidification due to more CO2 if there has been no decrease in global T. Nobody can. What they have “measured” as deviation is even much smaller than the error of measurement. Anyway, how would you take a globally representative sample for pH? It is impossible….
        Note that everyday we are drinking carbonated water (soda’s)

        and we are doing fine, are we not?
        Cheers!

      • HenryP,
        Yes, warming tends to outgas CO₂, and that competes with the rate of addition of CO₂ to the sea resulting from our direct addition to the air. But it is very clear which wins. As Ferdinand patiently explains, you can estimate from glaciations how much a 1°C change raises air CO₂, and it is about 10-16 ppm/°C. We have had getting up to 1°C warming, but our C burning has raised CO₂ in air by 120 ppm. The net flux of CO₂ is into the sea, not out.

    • “As the pH is a system buffered with CaCO3/HCO3- the initial assumption that adding CO2 drops the pH and lowers the CO3—concentration is faulty.”
      Yeah, and you assume that these guys who spend their professional lives studying this have simply overlooked this simple and obvious aspect? Gosh the lack of respect for scientists here pisses me off.

      • Scientists disagree all the time, Clyde, sometimes vociferously, and occasionally insultingly.

        As a long-time resident at Anthony’s WUWT, I can say from direct experience that scientists are treated well here. seaice1 is taking disagreement, and representing it as disrespect. It’s not.

      • My reply was aimed at alcheson, not Pat Frank, as you can tell from the words I quoted which were not Pat’s. Apologies if it got into the wrong place.

  22. I have not read any source that says the oceans will become “acidic”, only “less basic/alkaline”. No predictions of 6.9999999 or lower. All are well above 7. No acidity predicted at all.

    • Sheri, get over the semantics. No one worth listening to has claimed the oceans will become acidic – pH less than 7. It’s just another zombie myth that is raised every time the word ‘acidify’ is used. Good for at least 100 posts alone on a thread like this (but that’s just a coincidence).

      Less acidic is more alkaline and vice versa. To acidify is the same as de-alkalize, it just a slightly less clunky way of expressing it. Both mean the pH is dropping. To claim it is some ploy when it is just conventional terminology is paranoia.

    • For f**s sake, it doesn’t matter if it is above pH 7 or not. Reducing the pH is acidification. If you don’t like the term the use another, it makes no difference. Simply say to yourself “reduce pH” whenever you see the term acidification. That would be fine and not alter the meaning of the paper at all. This is just semantics – don’t get hung up on it.

      • pH tending towards neutral is neutralisation.
        pH 7 = neutral.
        Neutral means [H] =[OH]. Least electropositivity – least active.
        When pH > 7 then decreasing pH means tending towards pH = 7.

        Ocean neutralisation is technically correct.

        Ocean acidification is scary pseudoscience. It confuses the semi-educated and panics the ignorant.
        It is a term only used by those ignorant or those seeking to exploit the ignorant.

      • It is not scary pseudoscience, it is simply using the term in specific scientific way that is completely valid. Making more acid is the same as reducing pH is the same as acidification. You may prefer to apply it to only pH below 7 bit there is no reason why scientists should change their nomenclature to fit with your preferences.

        Neutralisation is movement towards pH7, which implies a goal of neutrality. You say yourself that it is tending towards neutrality. There is no reason to think that pH 7 is any goal of the ocean system so neutralization would be a less accurate term than acidification.

      • seaice,1, you know very well that the choice of “ocean acidification” to describe the process is a deliberate attempt to scare the public. It’s a purely propaganda term.

        We all know that even a 600 ppmv CO2 atmosphere will produce ocean surface waters of about pH 7.9, assuming the models are correct. A process moving pH from 8.2 to 7.9 is formally not acidification. It’s not even neutralization, because there is no neutral end-point.

        If I, as a chemist, were doing that process in the lab, I’d say something like, ‘I’m reducing the pH from 8.2 to 7.9.’ I’d not say, I’m acidifying the solution to pH 7.9, nor even neutralizing the solution to pH 7.9.

        The procedurally correct term for what CO2 emissions might do would be, ‘ocean pH reduction.’ But who’d be gratifyingly frightened by that?

        The whole term, “ocean acidification,” is a crock. It’s wrong on its face because the ocean will not become acidic. It’s entirely non-standard usage for the process of reducing an alkaline pH by 0.3 units, and it’s no more than a scare term.

        Your defense of it is mere pedantry.

      • seaice1,
        You said, “Making more acid is the same as reducing pH is the same as acidification.” That is not what is happening in the ocean! More carbonic acid is NOT being made. What little carbonic acid that is made with the solution of CO2 has a very short residency before it makes its contribution to the carbonate/bicarcobonate species in solution. Did you read my article?

      • Neutralisation is not movement towards pH7 as I said earlier. It is movement towards equal concentrations of H+ and OH-. Hot water contains more H+ ions than cold water, so has a lower pH. It is also neutral because it contains an equal increase in OH- ions. pH 7 and neutral are not the same thing except under specified conditions.

        So in hot water shifting towards pH7 may be shifting away from neutrality. Therefore moving towards pH 7 cannot be neutralisation. It makes perfect sense to use the term “acidification” to mean reducing pH, wherever one starts.

        Pat Franks says “The procedurally correct term for what CO2 emissions might do would be, ‘ocean pH reduction.’ ” That term was not chosen for some reason. Pat Franks knows that it is because it was insufficiently scary. I presume he has documentary evidence for this. Otherwise it seems very likely that it was not chosen because it is clumsy.

        Your objection to the term is mere pedantry because it would not affect the scientific argument one iota if the term chosen had been a different one.

  23. If this article would have left out all the 30% and acidic ocean hype and just ran with we’ve found a critter that can build carbonate shells over a wide (lower) range of alkalinity, would it have been nothing more than a ho-hum?

  24. According to two survey articles by Dana M. Royer during the 00’s, atmospheric CO2 has been in excess of 1000 ppm for most of the past 550M years, the notable exceptions being the last few million years and the late Carboniferous/Permian period, which also happened to be global ice ages eras. We have been told that such high CO2 concentrations acidify (or de-alkalinize, if you prefer) the sea water to where calcium carbonate can no longer form, so that corals, mollusks, etc. that depend on hard shells could no longer survive. But if this is true, where did all the earth’s limestone deposits come from? Do they all date to the Carbo-Permian ice age?

    This article explains how CaCO3 could continue to form even under concentrations of CO2 much higher than we are likely to get to any time soon. At the same time, it shows that the oceans can continue to take up vast quantities of CO2 by converting it to CaCO3, even if the CO2 is reducing its pH.

    Only about half of CO2 emissions since 1900 remain in the atmosphere, despite extensive deforestation. This article also provides a possible explanation of where it has all been going — into ocean sediments.

    • The Cretaceous Period, four degrees hotter than now, with CO2 five times higher, takes its name from the limestone formations laid down then by shelly plankton, such as the chalky White Cliffs of Dover.

      Forams and other little calcareous organisms, have been around since at least the Cambrian, so have survived mass extinctions and fluctuations in CO2 from 180 to 7000 ppm.

    • Hu,
      ” At the same time, it shows that the oceans can continue to take up vast quantities of CO2 by converting it to CaCO3, even if the CO2 is reducing its pH. “
      No, CO₂ actually dissolves CaCO₃ (caves); you can write the reaction including dissolution as
      CaCO₃+CO₂+H₂O ⇌ Ca⁺⁺+2HCO₃⁻
      Once equilibrium is restored after CO₂ has increased, shells are OK again. The problem is, where did the CaCO₃ come from to dissolve to make that happen?

      Turning CO₂ back into CaCO₃ deposits requires the addition of a base (stronger than CO₃⁻⁻). This comes from the breakdown of rock materials like olivine, but that is slow.

      • It’s clear from the article, that among forams, “turning CO₂ back into CaCO₃” requires ATP and occurs in a pH 6.9 microenvironment; an environment that the forams produce themselves.

      • Stokes,
        Just for the record, humic acid and other weak organic acids also play a role in the formation of caves.

        Incidentally, there are places in the world, mostly warm shallow seas such as in the Bahamas, where calcium carbonate is precipitating out of sea water as the carbon dioxide de-gasses from the warmed water. No strong bases are being added. Olivine is a silicate mineral that can be attacked by carbonic acid, but you are right that it is a relatively slow process.

      • Pat Frank,
        “It’s clear from the article, that among forams, “turning CO₂ back into CaCO₃” requires ATP and occurs in a pH 6.9 microenvironment”
        I was responding to the comment, which said, as I quoted
        ” the oceans can continue to take up vast quantities of CO2 by converting it to CaCO3″
        It’s true that forams can with energy proton pump and create an alkaline environment which allows precipitation. But then it has to stay solid, requiring energy to maintain. And the energy needed for the proton pump is proportional to the pH difference needed. Proton pumping doesn’t make the sea more basic; it just shifts protons around.

        Clyde Spencer,
        The situation you describe is also one of moving acid around. CO₂ can outgas, leaving precipitate, but it hasn’t been lost to the environment.

      • Nick, “I was responding to the comment, which said, as I quoted “the oceans can continue to take up vast quantities of CO2 by converting it to CaCO3″ But it does do that. The oolitic limestones, for example.

        It’s true that forams can with energy proton pump and create an alkaline environment which allows precipitation. But then it has to stay solid, requiring energy to maintain.

        Probably not. Carbonate exoskeletons are typically covered with a proteaceous coat that isolates them from direct contact with water.

        And the energy needed for the proton pump is proportional to the pH difference needed. Proton pumping doesn’t make the sea more basic; it just shifts protons around.

        Protons are apparently pumped, copiously so, from inside the forams to outside. That makes the inside alkaline, where the biological carbonate is formed.

        The immediate external microenvironment around the foram apparently lowers to pH 6.9, much lower that any possible impact of CO2 emissions. Despite the low pH in contact with their external coat, foram exoskeletons do not dissolve.

    • Coral growth is aided by symbiotic algae that take up CO2 during photosynthesis thus reducing carbonic acid which inhibits calcite/aragonite precipitation.

  25. Two critical points of interest here. First is that the forams absorb CO2, not carbonate, to produce their carbonate shells. Second is that production of shell-carbonate is energy-driven. The latter, we knew already.

    There is a third point that’s both scientifically and politically interesting, which is that the forams pump H+ out into their immediate environment, lowering the pH of the surrounding water. This means that the forams would not even notice a general change in global ocean pH from 8.2 to even 7.9, because their local micro-pH is so low.

    The whole “ocean acidification” alarm is exploded by the fact that forams make their environment more acidic themselves, and prefer it that way.

    So, a compartmentalized and energy-driven process is not subject to ordinary chemical equilibrium. It means that forams use ATP to drive the carbonate-producing reaction. Energy-driven means the mechaniism will operate successfully under a wide variety of external conditions. It would probably take an extreme in external pH to frustrate the biochemistry.

    Then, as the forams take up CO2 and not carbonate, an increase in the CO2, not carbonate, concentration of the oceans will improve the efficiency of foram carbonate shell production. That means a drop from pH 8.2 to 8.1 is better for forams, and a drop to pH 7.9 might make them really happy.

    • Pat,
      As I remarked above, different organisms appear to have different optimal pH regimes, probably related to the prevailing pH when they evolved. In any event, they can tolerate wide variations, at the expense of greater energy expenditures. Once the shells have been formed, they have other strategies for protecting them. It is perhaps this observation that explains why juvenile oysters seem to be more susceptible to transient pH lowering than adults.

    • Agreed, Clyde. Apparently, also, fresh water clams and mussels live happily in relatively quite low pH regimes.

  26. When I read the first line of text:
    “FACT: More carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air also acidifies the oceans”

    I quit reading because it is immediately clear this is not going to be a scientific discussion.

    • Is that because you prefer your own definitions of scientific terms to those that accepted by scientists? For many scientists acidification means reducing pH. You however prefer for the term to mean making the pH less than 7. Your conclusion is that because the term is used as the scientists use it, rather than the way you would prefer, this is not a scientific discussion. God help you.

      • seaice1,
        And for reasons that only you really know, you seem to prefer the terminology invented very recently. God help you!

    • RWturner, you misunderstand. Articles like this are not posted for edification. Just look at the mythological dust that has been kicked up for the umpteenth time.

  27. Why is it that any lowering of the pH of the oceans is considered as an increase in acidity whilst they remain clearly alkaline?
    Such deceptive means of discussing changing pH levels is not used in agricultural where soils are described as either alkaline or acidic according to the pH levels, and if the pH of an alkaline soil decreases it is described as a reduction in alkalinity, not as an increase in acidity.
    The way changes in ocean pH is being described in the climate change debate distorts the matter in the minds of those who blindly follow the alarmist mob.

    • Reducing pH can be considered acidification as you are making it more acid. It is a perfectly reasonable way to use the term. For god’s sake why is this such a problem for you? If you don’t like the term just substitute “reduce pH” when you see it. It makes no difference.

      • Sure, that would be correct if acids and bases were simply a subjective scale, i.e. shading, but it is defined by a boundary. If a glacier warms from -50 C to -30 C, do you say the glacier is liquifying? It would be absurd to do so, because terms like solid, liquid, acid, and base are defined by a boundary condition, not a sliding scale. Acid and base are defined by their ability accept or donate hydronium ions. If a solution with a pH of 10 (a base, accepts hydronium ions, +1 OH-:H+ ) drops to a pH of 9, has its ability to donate hydronium ions changed, no, it is still a base, it was NOT acidified.

        I think those of us that keep harping on this technicality are simply tired of obfuscation in science.

      • seaice1 – but you contradict yourself here.

        I think most scientifically literate persons would agree that reducing pH can be acidification as you are making it more acid.

        Your problem is, adding H ions is not making the ocean more acidic, because it is not acidic at all. You can’t be made more of something that you are not already made of. “Less alkaline” is clearly the correct term. And once, and only ocean waters have a pH of less than 7.0, then you can say correctly adding more H ions is making the oceans “more acidic”.

        The semantics matter because most non-scientifically literate persons think acid is bad, particularly when it comes to the environment … and most such persons have no concept of alkalinity, so saying something is “less alkaline” certainly does not sound bad … in fact, it sounds kinda good to to the illiterate.

        Thus the battle over semantics is non-trivial as you make it out to be.

  28. What is the pH at various proximity to a submarine volcanic vent? What is the marine life associated with the varying pH? Foraminifera are found right throughout our oceans. Some are benthic (on the sea floor) and others planktonic.

    Earth Science is a field science, for very good reason. Far too many desk studies these days. Throw away the computer for a while, go into the field and get some real measurements. Far too many soft degrees are being handed out. B S c means what?

  29. The process, as some have noticed, is really carbonation ie carbonate chemistry. Part of the vast carbon or organic chemistry, the Chemistry of Life. Orwells Fools like Nick Stokes etc. do not get to make us use newspeak, now becoming passe, hopefully soon extinct. And not like the millions of ‘fake news’ extinctions of MSM/CAGW.
    This paper is not the first to find its noted anti-extinction effects. It would be a good, if somewhat slight, paper. if not for the obligatory CO2 falsehoods.

    • Brett,
      I’ll vote for “carbonation.” It describes what is happening with no negative baggage. But then, I suspect that the reason that the “acidification” meme has survived is precisely because of the negative baggage. It is useful to the alarmists.

  30. “Fact: More carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air also acidifies the oceans. ”
    Can we now stop any nonsense comments that this is not he case because the oceans are slightly alkaline?
    It is acknowledged here that it is a fact that CO2 acidifies the oceans.

    • “It is acknowledged here that it is a fact that CO2 acidifies the oceans”

      No, it doesn’t.

      The oceans are strongly buffered against changes in pH.

      All the rivers following into the ocean over millions and millions of year are almost always acidic, sometime even as low as pH 5.5

      …. but the oceans have stayed stubbornly and steadfastly at around ph 8.1

      No tiny change in atmospheric CO2 is going to have the slightest effect on ocean pH.

      • AndyG55,
        Actually, rainwater is typically around pH 5.5 and other fresh water bodies, such as swamps, rich in humic and tannic acids, can get much lower — and yet things not only live in that water, they thrive in it.

  31. CO2 is one of the major building blocks of shell and coral. Only those with no knowledge of biochemistry would think that adding more CO2 to a buffered solution would result in less shell or coral.

    • “Only those with no knowledge of biochemistry”

      Problem is, “climate science™” is full of people with little or no knowledge of biochemistry..

      .. or, for that matter… any other branch of real science.

  32. For most of the Earth’s history CO2 levels have been much higher than today yet in such an environment shell life and coral life in the oceans evolved. A testamoney to this is the amount of carbonate rock that has been produced over the years. The problem is that the sequestering of Carbon by both fossil fuels and carbonate rocks has left very little available for the creation and sustanance of new carbon based life on this planet. Releasing carbon tied up by fossil fuels and carbonate rocks is actually a good thing in terms of sustaining carbon based life on this planet. If Mankind is to servive, the amount fo CO2 in our atmosphere needs to be increased. The next ice age will cause more CO2 to be absorbed into the oceans and will cause CO2 levels in our atmosphere to decrease. Despite the hype there is no real evidence that CO2 has any effect on climate and plenty of scientific reasoning to support the idea that the climate sensivity of CO2 is really zero. Adding CO2 to the atmosphere will do noting to fend off the next ice age but in may help to keep plants alive as the colder oceans remove CO2 form our atmosphere. It is the formation of carbonate rocks that could threaten life on this planet.

    • As I said somewhere up top. Carbon is continuously being removed from the carbon cycle.

      Vostok cores indicate that it has dropped perilously low for plant life on the planet at least 4 times over the last half a million years.

      Those same charts show that even at its peak, CO2 could not maintain the temperature.

      The human release of sequestered CO2 has quite probably saved the planet’s plant life, and with it, ALL life on this Earth.

  33. It’s not a new insight for aquarists who keep shellies in acidic water. I actually did mention this on WUWT last year, in my OA is complete nonsense rant.

    My shrimp for example pH 6.0 kH 3.0 I bred shrimp in this tank for 2 years.

    The calcium is in the water regardless, and also when the shrimp molt the acidity takes care of the shell eventually returning it to the water. I had fantastic healthy specimens as can be seen.

    Acidity is not a problem for shells low acidity, if the water also contains the required calcium as far as my years of experience goes.

    • fyi kH or more accurately dKH is carbonate alkalinity, or more commonly called bcarbonate hardness.

      Ocean water is ridiculously high, up to and above 9dKH generally. All the CO2 in the atmosphere is not going to even budge ocean pH dKH in any detectable way, it’s a complete scam.

      To use direct CO2 injection it would take epic amounts, something like 200mls per litre of sea water to lower pH to 6.0 and remember that an extremely tiny amount of carbonic acid is created in exchange as CO2 dissolves. It can and will come right back out of the water, which is why less water disturbance is better to retain CO2 levels, other wise they fluctuate.

      It is complete JUNK SCIENCE

    • The vents in Italy spewing sulfur, have done more to affect pH in a year than all human emissions ever/

      • Which assertion.

        Acidity is essential to the oceans, but atmospheric CO2 does not compete with osmosis and inputs, apart from geological sea floor events, there are minerals and materials in the earth’s crust that are carried away along with heat that act as part of the buffer for ocean stability

        There are examples of this where there is no acidic input to retard calcification. Lakes in Africa where there are no acidic inputs. Here is a bird at one such lake Lake Natron Tanzania. It’s a one way alkaline input from springs, yes its spewing out of the ground, that is just a lake, imagine what is on the ocean floor

      • Alarmists worry as if H+ goes in and never comes out. Calcium carbonate (CaCO3) which will nuke H+ ions. It goes back out via limestone. This process has been going on geologically for hundreds of millions of years. To think our recent emissions overpowered all that in oceans the size and density of ours vs the atmosphere and the time past, what 60 odd years of emissions with 21st century crankup.. is just plain arrogance.
        Limestone is but one of many aspects just not quantified in this problem. it is MASSIVELY uncertain, the null hypothesis is still very healthy, we are not changing ocean pH in any measurable way with emissions.

        There are literally pitiful efforts throwing pointless amounts of limestone into the sea. Little more than symbolism.

      • “Fossil fuel use, cement manufacture and land-use
        changes are the primary sources of anthropogenic carbon
        dioxide (CO2) to the atmosphere, with the ocean absorbing approximately 30%”

        This is the first line of the abstract. How on earth do they get 30%. I have to go paper chasing to end up with a model, ffs.

      • Right off the bat I cant falsify the claim of 30%.

        That’s without the fact I am not a scientist or academic. :D So I couldn’t anyway but we are well into the country called massive guesstimations here

      • Read the Hawaii one. Can’t say it’s wrong, dunno, cant analyze their data :D

        Exchange rates of CO2 and export of DIC via biological sequestration. I have no idea even from this paper if there are other factors affecting water chemistry\biology in this 10km zone they used that may affect what they measured.

        Also doesn’t Hawaii have sulfur dioxide natural pollution? Vog they call it, which is acidic, creates acidic rain.

        Not convinced. but I cant say its wrong

      • Mark,

        Ocean chemistry is rather well known: it is a weak buffer for CO2 in the atmosphere and the levels in the ocean surface follow the changes in the atmosphere with ~10%. That can be calculated and you can check it by comparing the increase in atmospheric levels with the increase in DIC (dissolved inorganic carbon) in the surface like at Hawaii and Bermuda over the same periods. The other 20% is in the deep oceans, not important for the pH of the surface.

        SO2 and other stronger acids than CO2 can enter the (deep) oceans from volcanic vents and have an immediate effect on the acidity of the ocean waters. If that are substantial amounts, that gives an immediate release of CO2 and a reduction of DIC, as the whole chain from free CO2 in solution to/from bicarbonates to/from carbonates is highly influenced by acids – or reverse.

        In this case we see the reverse: DIC increases over time, despite that the pH gets lower. Thus CO2 – in average – is not leaving the ocean surface, it is entering the surface from the atmosphere…

        That is independent of bio-life, but bio-life plays also a huge role on DIC and pH, mainly over the seasons. There is no indication that bio-life shows huge changes over longer periods than a few years, other than a (small) growth over time (as is also the case for bio-life on land). That means that bio-life also is a net sink for CO2 and not the cause of the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere and DIC in the ocean surface…

        That all doesn’t mean that any small change in pH has a negative effect on bio-life in the oceans: most chalk bearing creatures evolved in times with much higher CO2 levels in the atmosphere, and have no problems with more CO2, to the contrary, as the above research shows…

      • In response to one way, atmosphere to ocean

        The spike in CO2 growth from El Nino announced by NOAA shows that oceans can do what human emissions cannot, and that is cause relatively instant spike in atmospheric CO2 growth.

        if the oceans can emit that kind of CO2 amount from an El Nino, how much was released by 200 years of very arguably natural warming?

      • “immediate release of CO2 and a reduction of DIC” and so will warming ocean water and it has a bigger signal than alleged human emitted CO2. The measurements at Mauna Loa last year showed that. It takes one heck of a lot of Co2 to spike atmospheric CO2 growth relatively fast.

        CO2 left the oceans at rates our emissions are nowhere near. Warming waters simply outstrip the mechanism by which CO2 is entering the water.

      • CO2 is absorbed in cold polar waters and emitted from the equatorial waters with gradient up and down the latitudes of course, generally speaking. So how would atmospheric CO2 cause a net increase in warming top 5000 meters of water. Temperature at the surface dictates, increasing warming in the surface causes a net exchange, more out than in.

      • need cooler water on the surface which absorbs CO2, water cooler than the water below, and it sinks with CO2, upwelling potential has an effect in places like Hawaii as far as I know.

        Upwelling as well as equator to polar circulation being in most oceanic CO2 in a warming world.

        Going by the changes throughout El Nino in SST no wonder this spiked mauna Loa

      • Mark,

        The past El Niño did induce a spike of 1.5 ppmv in the CO2 rate of change, lasting one year. That drops after the El Niño to about zero and negative during a La Niña (or a Pinatubo). Average over periods longer than 1-3 years: an uptake of ~2 ppmv/year while humans add over 4 ppmv/year, each year again.
        Thus your “spike” is not caused by more outgassing from the oceans, it is caused by less absorbing by the -temporarily- warmer oceans…

        Over the past 800,000 years the temperature – CO2 ratio was ~16 ppmv/K. That is the same as what Henry’s law for the solubility of CO2 in seawater predicts. That gives that the warming oceans since the LIA (maximum 1 K) are good for maximum 16 ppmv of the increase. We are currently at 110 ppmv above (dynamic) equilibrium for the current ocean temperature.

        Indeed dynamic: some 40 GtC/year as CO2 is entering the atmosphere from warmed deep ocean upwelling waters, while some 40 GtC/year as CO2 sinks near the poles together with the cold, salty waters into the deep. Slightly more CO2 is sinking into the deep than is upwelling. That will return after some 1000 years…

        The CO2 balance of the seasonal cycle and the year by year variability, both caused by temperature, is smaller than the yearly human emissions, thus the extra pessure in the atmosphere above equilibrium pushes more CO2 into the oceans (and vegetation) than is released…

      • Ferdinand
        we donot really have reliable CO2 data before 1960
        and since then we had a warming trend.
        How do we know even know for sure that all or almost all extra CO2 since 1960 is due to warming?
        Do you even know how many giga tons of carbonates are in the oceans?

      • HenryP,

        CO2 levels as measured in ice cores are quite reliable: compared to direct measurements at the South Pole (there is an overlap between 1960-1980) the data are within +/- 1.2 ppmv (1 sigma) of each other, The only drawback is the resolution, which gets worse the farther back you want to go in history:
        ~10 years for the past 150 years
        ~20 years for the past 1,000 years
        ~40 years for the past 70,000 years
        ~560 years for the past 800,000 years.

        The current increase of ~110 ppmv would be visible in every ice core, be it with a lower amplitude, depending of the resolution.

        How do we know even know for sure that all or almost all extra CO2 since 1960 is due to warming?
        Do you even know how many giga tons of carbonates are in the oceans?

        Henry’s law gives ~16 ppmv/K for the equilibrium between seawater and the atmosphere. Confirmed by over 3 million seawater measurements in the past centuries. At the current (area weighted) average ocean surface temperature there is a (dynamic) equilibrium with the atmosphere at ~290 ppmv. We are currently at 400 ppmv…

        The amount of carbonates in the deep oceans is of (near) zero interest in that equilibrium, as the equilibrium is mainly with the surface (“mixed”) layer. For a fixed concentration, only temperature plays a role in the equilibrium. It hardly makes a difference if you shake a 0.5 or 1 or 1.5 liter bottle of Coke: if they were filled from the same batch, they will show (nearly) the same pressure under the screw cap at the same temperature of the Coke…

        The increase in temperature since 1959 (+0.8 K according to HadCRU) is good for maximum 13 ppmv from the 90 ppmv increase over the same period…

      • Ferdinand
        as stated before
        https://wattsupwiththat.com/2017/01/27/inconvenient-result-ocean-acidification-can-also-promote-shell-formation/#comment-2410528

        I am a bit skeptical of Henry, unless you are talking of a closed vessel.

        either way, even if our guilt is the remaining 75 odd ppm.s extra in the air, I am sure you will agree with me that this won’t be able to ;’acidify’ the oceans to any extent, neither change the climate to any extent or degree, Please say that you agree with me on that.
        According to my measurements everything is natural, there is no room for any AGW in my equations…

      • The assertion that vents spewing sulfur in Italy have done more to affect pH in the oceans than all human CO2 emissions ever. A simple quantification of the amount and identity of the stuff spewing would be a good start.

      • HenryP:

        I am a bit skeptical of Henry, unless you are talking of a closed vessel.

        The other Henry’s law does hold static for one sample in a closed flask as good as dynamic for the oceans with their enormous CO2 exchanges in and out the atmosphere.
        The largest difference in partial pressure between upwelling waters and the atmosphere is around 250 μatm higher in the surface. That pushes about 40 GtC/year from the deep oceans into the atmosphere. Near the poles the reverse pCO2 difference is ~150 μatm, that gives about 40 GtC/year from the atmosphere into the deep oceans. See:
        http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/pubs/outstand/feel2331/exchange.shtml

        If the sea surface temperature increases everywhere with 1 K, that gives an increase in ocean pCO2 everywhere with ~16 μatm. Thus at the upwelling sites the pCO2 difference increases to 266 μatm and the outgassing to 266/250*40 = 42.6 GtC/year and the sink capacity is reduced as the pCO2 difference drops with 16 μatm. That gives 134/150*40 = 35.7 GtC/year. The difference of ~7 GtC/year stays in the atmosphere, thus the CO2 level in the atmosphere increases. If the CO2 pressure in the atmosphere increases, the pressure difference at the upwelling decreases and at the sink zones increases. With ~16 μatm (~= ppmv) extra in the atmosphere, the original pCO2 differences from before the warming are restored and again in equilibrium. That is the same 16 μatm as for a single sample…

        In graph form:

        And indeed I am pretty sure that semantics are abused in this case to scare lay people for a non-problem… Especially the “30% more acidic” is strictly right, but only used as it sounds far more scary than “a drop of 0.1 pH unit in alkalinity”…

      • HenryP,

        I haven’t measured seawater pCO2 myself, but I have measured the motor cooling water inlet temperature when I was sailor (engine room) during a few years in my early after school life and worked a few years in a cola bottlery (Royal Crown, don’t know if they still exist in the US, not here anymore)…

        You need to go on with the papers of Feely e.a. and have a look at the CO2 transfer pages:
        http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/pubs/outstand/feel2331/maps.shtml

        Henry’s law and practice in cola carbonatation show the same principle: the amount of CO2 transfered between a gas and a liquid is directly proportional to the difference in partial pressure between the gas in the liquid and the same gas in the atmosphere above it.
        As CO2 diffusion in water is very slow, one need a lot of wind and waves to give a thorough mixing and a reasonable speed in transfer, but aside that, the pressure difference is the important thing. No pressure difference, no transfer.

        Here a lot of solubility parameters between different gases and there solution in water at different temperatures:
        http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/gases-solubility-water-d_1148.html
        That is for fresh water. For CO2 in seawater that is somewhere else, but my link doesn’t work anymore…
        The equipment used to measure the pCO2 of seawater underway is at page 5:
        https://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/res/pi/CO2/carbondioxide/text/LMG03_2_data_report.pdf

        They have measured the pressure difference at a lot of ocean places over time (over two million samples at that time) and calculated the average pCO2 difference for the whole ocean surface: 7 μatm higher in the atmosphere than in the ocean surface. That pushes, in average more CO2 from the atmosphere into the oceans than reverse…

        My calculation indeed was theoretical, but that doesn’t matter: the proven change in pCO2 of seawater is ~16 μatm/K, thus with a sudden change of 1 K everywhere, the sea surface would (without human emissions) become a temporarely source of CO2, but after a few years and 16 ppmv extra CO2 in the atmosphere, everything is back into dynamic equilibrium (“steady state” to use the right term)…

  34. Regarding the semantic issue of using the terms “30% increase” and “acidification”, here’s my take:

    1. Use of either of these terms in this context is misleading, albeit arguably correct. It is a direct indication of deliberately misleading alarmisim IMO.

    2. For those defending said usage, I ask you if you would then accept the following terms being used instead: “0.1 pH” and “caustic”? If not, why not?

    I am not adressing the issue of whether or not CO2 has caused the oceans to become less caustic by a factor of 0.1 pH (see how much less scary that sounds?), however, nor whether that would be a problem if it was true.

  35. It’s not news that calcification often actually occurs under the local biochemical control of the organism itself, the pH of the surrounding millieu being effectively irrelevant.

    Environmentalists trying to scare people with junior-high school chemistry is not news either. That is an eternal constant.

  36. “Acidification” is technically correct. I have no problem with that.

    However, I DO think that terminology goes a long way in dramatically increasing awareness and fear-mongering. I remember being a child and hearing of “acid rain”…it evoked images of people out in the rain “melting” like the Wicked Witch of the West.

    The vast majority of people cringe in fear at the thought of contact with anything called an “acid” – even if it’s weak – but they don’t have the same response to sodium hydroxide.

  37. The “Ocean acidification” scare is so clearly a load of scaremongering. It is well known that doubling the concentration of dissolved CO2 lowers the pH by .4
    However, there is 48 times more CO2 in the oceans than in the atmosphere. If atmospheric CO2 were to double (shock horror and Bill McKibben going in to hysterics) and all of the increase were to dissolve in to the oceans, it would cause a pH drop of approximately .008 which is very little. To get to pH 7 (neutral) – 5 doublings of CO2 concentration in the oceans would require the equivalent of atmospheric CO2 getting to- wait for it 48 x 400ppm x 2 to the 4th power= 307,200 ppm . This does not even take in to account the buffering capacity of basalts on the ocean floor, which are probably the reason the oceans are basic. I think getting to 30% of the atmosphere being CO2 (there goes ALL the oxygen) – up from .04% is very clearly a load of absolute garbage. How can so-called serious scientists actually get this so spectacularly wrong? I am an amateur, although I am a life-long science enthusiast, so just how can such an amateur like myself work out that the notion of the oceans becoming acidic from burning (recycling) fossil fuels is basically impossible.
    The ocean acidification scare is just about the biggest BS meter explosion to date. It is totally BUSTED.
    Could some of the more knowledgeable physicists and chemists please check my mathematics and logic train.

  38. Even before marine ecologists called themselves that, pH was always an enigma because it was a poor predictor, except at the extremes. One of the few good things that has come out of this is looking at some of the details, and it seems that the poor predictor observation is mostly correct, probably because of all the compensatory mechanisms organisms possess.

    “Alkalinity is generally conservative in its behavior with respect to salinity, since total carbon dioxide is so large compared with rates of carbon dioxide production and consumption, and also relative to precipitation reactions ….” From Day, et al., Estuarine Ecology, 1989, written before the controversy.

  39. This is the article (I think)
    Proton pumping accompanies calcification in foraminifera
    http://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms14145

    It is not quite as implied above.

    The living specimens were collected from brackish water salt marsh sediments of Hiragata-bay

    Thus, they used foraminifera from an area with a normal pH lower than the ocean
    They only manipulated the pH when the animals were making new shell
    They did NOT manipulate the pH during the entire life cycle

    As a result, they only looked at the shell forming chemistry and not at how a change in pH might affect the life cycle of the animals. On the other hand, simulating CO2 at 9,000 ppm produced a pH of 6.8 (the only experiment with the pH more acid than neutral) and the shell was still formed.

  40. This extract is typical for the confusion surrounding the subject. The oceans are alkaline at a Ph of about 8.2. They do not become ‘acidic’, they may become less alkaline.

    The 30% is laughable. It is a projection based on the fact the since 1750 CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has increased by 40% and then assuming that the quantity dissolved has similarly increased by 40%, based on some hypothetical equilibrium pressure, which would result in a Ph drop of 0.3. It is NOT based on any actual measurement. How could it be, as the Ph concept dates from the early 20th century. Furthermore, the hypothetical estimate totally ignores the massive Ph buffering due the dissolved salts.

    The whole concept of ‘ocean acidification’ is riseable.

  41. the simplified equation for the sinking of CO2 is
    Cold + 4H2O + 2CO2 (g) =.> 2HCO3- + 2H3O+

    however, if the fact [that everyone claims to be true] is that earth is getting warmer, net,
    then the opposite reaction is what is happening [more]

    Heat + HCO3- => CO2 (g) + OH-
    i.e. more alkalinity.

    Hence, the current warm period is likely to outgas more CO2 [tropics] than it dissolves CO2 (polar regions).

    You cannot have it both ways. You cannot claim ocean acidification due to more CO2 if there has been no decrease in global T. Nobody can. What they have “measured” as deviation is even much smaller than the error of measurement. Anyway, how would you take a globally representative sample for pH? It is impossible….
    Note also that everyday we are drinking carbonated water (soda’s)

    and we are doing fine, are we not?
    Cheers!

    • Excellent – most environmentalists know no basic chemistry – and this is truly the kind of chemistry any school kid should know. I point out the old test for CO2 – using lime water – Ca(OH)2. Bubble the CO2 though it and a white precipitate forms – CaCO3 which is insoluble. Carry on bubbling it through and the white precipitate disappears – formation of soluble and alkaline Ca(HCO3)2.
      “Simples”.

  42. The intellectuals talk of simple answers to complicated problems;

    unable to fight their chaos, to divide the complications into step for step for step.

  43. The oceans are a net sink for CO2. Millions of years of layers of carbonate rock
    in evidence in the Grand Canyon prove this.

    CO2 is not well mixed in the atmosphere. The first illustration of the OCO2 satellite
    readings proved this and was so disturbing to the administration that it was some
    time before we received another reading.

    CO2 reading where ice cores are drilled are less than readings closer to the
    equator.

    Ice core readings are at best an average of many hundreds or even thousands
    of years, if gasses can be accurately preserved in snow at all. I do not think
    they can.

    Plant stomata should be an accurate reading of CO2 except for several
    confounds.

    CO2 is not well mixed, therefore stomata are only a local reading, although
    a very accurate local reading.

    Plants are very close to their major source of CO2, and are very supply
    dependent.

    Topsoil richness is very dependent, in general, on the amount of natural gas
    up welling through it. The oxidation of these hydrocarbons by microbes,
    supply the local and immediate CO2 to which plant stomata react.

    A study of world soil maps show the variance of soil richness, and this
    indicates, in general, the immediate supply of CO2 available and therefore
    the variance of plant stomata.

    I will add references to CO2 reading in ice below.

  44. just to clarify what I am saying

    if there truly is a decrease in pH of the oceans – which I think has not been clearly proven –
    then it could not have been the CO2 in the air that did it.

    it is most probably caused by the acid that we put into the rivers that end up in the oceans?

    But even if that is so, it ain’t that bad for life….Like I said: I found that the bugs thrive in water where the pH had dropped below 7.
    Seems more CO2 and more acid is just like dung in the air and the seas, respectively.

  45. During the ice ages, the great sheets of ice push most CO2 even further
    from the ice core sites. This further devalues ice core CO2 readings.

    A basket of readings of stomata from the tropics, I believe, will show much
    higher and healthier readings from that period.

  46. The amount of CO2 dissolved in ocean water is limited. The excess is always
    deposited in carbonate or chalk layers. See Cliffs Of Dover.

  47. One way to obtain an idea of ancient CO2 levels is to core drill the sea bed
    in as many long undisturbed locations as possible.

    The oceans absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and then deposit the surplus
    on the ocean floor. The same functions which prevent oceans from becoming
    too “acid” make their deposits of carbonates a reliable but very blunt indicator
    of past atmospheric CO2 readings.

  48. In the pH range found in the vast majority of the world’s oceans, the chemically dominant form of dissolved carbon is the bicarbonate ion – HCO3-. This is the ONLY form that can be absorbed by marine life to be used for building coral, shells, etc.

Comments are closed.