Arctic Ocean acidification worse than previously expected

University of Bern

IMAGE
This pteropod, or “sea butterfly “, a type of marine snail, shows damage to its shell (jagged line radiating from center) due to acidic ocean waters. view more  Credit: © National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA

The Arctic Ocean will take up more CO2 over the 21st century than predicted by most climate models. This additional CO2 causes a distinctly stronger ocean acidification. These results were published in a study by climate scientists from the University of Bern and École normale supérieure in Paris. Ocean acidification threatens the life of calcifying organisms – such as mussels and “sea butterflies” – and can have serious consequences for the entire food chain.

The ocean takes up large amounts of man-made CO2 from the atmosphere. This additional CO2 causes ocean acidification, a process that can already be observed today. Ocean acidification particularly impacts organisms that form calcium carbonate skeletons and shells, such as molluscs, sea urchins, starfish and corals. The Arctic Ocean is where acidification is expected to be greatest.

A study that was recently published in the scientific journal Nature by Jens Terhaar from Bern and Lester Kwiatkowski and Laurent Bopp from the École normale supérieure in Paris shows, that ocean acidification in the Arctic Ocean is likely to be even worse than previously thought. The results show that the smallest of the seven seas will take up 20% more CO2 over the 21st century than previously expected, under the assumption that the atmospheric CO2 concentrations continue to increase. “This leads to substantially enhanced ocean acidification, particularly between 200 and 1000 meters”, explains Jens Terhaar, member of the group for ocean modeling at the Oeschger-Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of Bern. This depth range is an important refuge area for many marine organisms.Consequences for the food chain

Ocean acidification negatively impacts organisms that build calcium carbonate skeletons and shells. In sufficiently acidic waters, these shells become unstable and begin to dissolve. “Our results suggest that it will be more difficult for Arctic organisms to adapt to ocean acidification than previously expected”, says co-author Lester Kwiatkowski. A loss of these organisms is likely to impact the entire Arctic food chain up to fish and marine mammals.New method improves projections

The international research team exploited the large divergence in simulated Arctic Ocean carbon uptake by current climate models. The researchers found a physical relationship across the models between the simulation of present-day Arctic sea surface densities and associated deep-water formation, with greater deep-water formation causing enhanced transport of carbon into the ocean interior and therefore enhanced acidification. Using measurements of Arctic sea surface density the research team was able to correct for biases in the models and reduce the uncertainty associated with projections of future Arctic Ocean acidification.

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Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research

The Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR) is one of the University of Bern’s strategic centres. It is a leading institution for climate research and brings together researchers from fourteen institutes and four faculties. The OCCR carries out interdisciplinary research that is at the forefront of climate science. The Oeschger Centre was founded in 2007 and is named after Hans Oeschger (1927-1998), a pioneer of modern climate research who worked at the University of Bern.

http://www.oeschger.unibe.ch

Publication: Terhaar et al.: Emergent constraint on Arctic Ocean acidification in the twenty-first century. Nature, 17. June 2020, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2360-3

From EurekAlert!

113 thoughts on “Arctic Ocean acidification worse than previously expected

  1. Stop lying about acidification. It will never happen. Let’s be real and call it PH neutralizing tendency.

    • (jagged line radiating from center) due to acidic ocean waters.

      Seems to me if the water was acidic they would melt rather than crack!

      • If acidification made the shells thinner, then the shells would be easier to crack.
        Not that the oceans are becoming more acidic.

        • The damaged shell should have a milky corroded suface and no sharp edges. The crack is mechanical damage and it, too, should show localized corrosion.

          • “Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.” Why not?

            Never worked with these critters, but have with fragile shells, including a real acid freshwater spring. Lots of predators can crack shells. Best they could argue for may be damage to metabolism.

          • Note that they deliberately only use RPC 8.5 to maximum effect, knowing full well this is NOT the trajectory we are on , neither is it ever likely to be.

            There does not seem to be any clear statement about “worse than previously expected” under what conditions. Why is it now worse? Compared to what?

    • The oceans become slightly less alkaline. Shellfish adapt. No news here, just weasel words and outright lies.

      • Shelled ocean life has persisted through multiple periods of much higher CO2 than today. If one snail with a cracked shell means the end of the world then removing it should solve the problem. No statement of actual ph? Is this a joke?

        • They persist now in the region of volcanic vents where CO2 concentrations would be far higher than any atmospheric projection, even from the IPCC worst case (RPC 8.5)

          Universities across the globe are trashing their long term reputations for the short term money grab of “Climate Change studies”

    • I’m with you all the way! Just tell me what the pH is currently, and what it was. Don’t give me any alarmist BS!

  2. Since most ocean “acidification” articles equate less alkaline to more acidic, it’s be nice it they’d tell us what pH levels are involved.

      • That’s paywalled. No doubt public funds from somewhere in the world were used, but the public has to fork out to see how it’s money was spent.

      • Let’s face facts – these so-called “scientists” don’t want to mention pH levels, because: (1) it would be apparent that nothing like “acidification” is occurring, and that the “drop” in pH, if any, is currently at best minuscule; (2) if they dared to predict actual pH levels with whatever data they accumulated, they could be challenged and proven fools. Can’t have that, you know.

        • Larry, it is also very difficult to measure pH accurately today. The amount they are measuring is a drop in average pH of the oceans from 8.2 to 8.1 in 250 years!! This is well beyond the error of measurements taken 250 years ago.

          https://niwa.co.nz/news/investigating-ocean-acidification

          This is why they are mum in their reports about details because people with no scientific knowledge would be critical. They disingenuously always report that this is a 26% increase in H+ concentration without pointing out that the scale covers many 1000s of % H+ concentration range.

          ‘Acidification’ is therefore a myth. They also mindlessly take no account of closeness to shore in sampling where rivers and water shed from paved cities on the coast add copious quantities of water of pH ~7 to the seawater.

        • As pH varies with temperature, it is very important to include the temperature and the Kw for water at that temperature. We were taught that human blood salts and pH are very similar to seawater. The salts seem right but our blood is pH 7.4 and the ocean is 8.4. Wait, what? How can that be?

          The oceans are colder and the Kw, dissociation constant, for water is less at colder temperatures, at 10^-16, that normal, at 10^-14. Neutral pH at our (room) temperature is 7 but at seawater temps it’s 8. So, our blood is 0.4 pH unit above neutrality just like seawater. It works!

        • Gary Pearse,

          pH measuring with glass electrodes in the past was not accurate enough to measure any change in the oceans, but modern colorimetric measurements can measure pH to 0.01 unit in continuous measurements on sea down to 0.001 pH unit in lab samples.
          Fortunately the past pH measurements are not lost either, as one can calculate pH from other measurements (total alkalinity, dissolved inorganic carbon,…).
          See e.g. Rérolle

  3. If a common sense revolution ever sweeps over the Western democracies, I hope these university people are prosecuted for misappropriation of public funds.

  4. Carbonate dissolution is very strongly dependent upon water depth. At what water depth did that poor little pteropod suffer damage to his shell?

    Do the authors of the article even know what the carbonate compensation depth is, and at what depth it occurs in the Arctic Ocean?

    • They generally hang out in the first approximate -40 feet. The damage to the shell probably occurred at +12 feet when they emptied their net.

  5. The article does not mention once pH.

    So what, the pH will drop from 8.3 to 8.2?

    Another flase scare story.

  6. The title implies that ocean acidification is NOW worse than expected, (by previous models), implying that some actual physical measurements (pH?) have been taken. Actually, no such measurements have been taken, and this article is just reporting another model. The pH changes, if they ever occur, would be so small as to be impossible to detect. pH is notoriously difficult to measure to the degree of accuracy, (+/- .0001 pH), this model is implying, and that’s even in the controlled conditions of a modern laboratory. A super-accurate pH measurement is subject to so many uncontrolled and poorly understood variables, (temperature, wind conditions, pressure, ionic strength, etc.), that measurement on site in the Arctic is impossible.

    and another question: what were the conditions under which this poor snail suffered its catastrophic damage?

    • I would think the shell cracked after being sandwiched between two plates of glass under a microscope.

    • see Wikipedia … they say that (in a different West Coast study) they put the little guy in a lower pH ‘ocean water’ for a month and a half to see what would happen (surprise, they dissolved most of his shell).

      They may have left him in for longer than the month and a half, but they didn’t discuss that.

      • There was a paper a few years ago that outlined how terrible experimental design on this is. It gave an outline on how to do these lab tests properly. He was a well-known oceanographer. He cited some experiments (kindly not identifying who did them) wherein an unreal low pH was used in a 1-2 cubic meter tank as a way to account for a long period of natural addition of increased higher hydrogen ion presence.

        He also criticised not having other associated fauna flora present and the closed system nature of the lab tank. You cant have live creatures taking lime and CO2 out of a small tank with limited resources to build their shells.

        My own criticism of the closed system is that Ca^++ is contantly being added by rivers, by mafic volcanics, seafloor spreading, and preciptated calcium carbonate and dead cocolithospore plankton shells settling in the sea that are redesolved below the Carbonate Compensation zone at~4000m.

    • As with the covid crisis, we witness again the nonsense of model-derived projections being presented as facts requiring action….when the models have not been confirmed empirically.

      They are wrong so often that real scientists need to start rebelling against use of models for predictions of complex, often chaotic, systems….like the weather and epidemics of novel infectious organisms.

  7. Two lies in one headline:
    “Ocean acidification”, like other Alarmist claims is completely false
    “Worse than previously expected”- Please, that’s right up there in BS land with “”here” is warming twice as fast as any any other place”. Worse BS than previously published.

  8. 1) So much for previously settled science.
    2) What is the mechanism for this alleged 20% increase in CO2 absorbtion?
    3) 20% is not that much, it’s probably less than the error margins for our understanding of ph levels through out the oceans.
    4) They haven’t actually proven that rising atmospheric CO2 levels are causing any harm in the oceans, yet they take it as granted that this model projected 20% increase, will make that predicted damage worse.
    5) Increasing nothing by 20% still doesn’t arrive at a scary scenario.

    • In order:
      1) Yup!
      2) No kidding, they rely on the sea ice disapearing to expose more sea surface. This added sea surface is modeled to do the extra absorption.
      3) Our understanding of pH levels in the oceans is pretty good, actually. We know that pH varies all over the place, sometimes as much as a full pH unit on the day/night cycle. Then there are ocean basins, seasons, temperature, biological activity, and Climate Scientists running around with poorly calibrated pH meters.
      4) True, but they modeled it, which is even better. Remember – Correlation does not equal Causation, but Models Are Proof.
      5) But it does! It Is Worse Than … (Oh never mind.)

      That should do it.

  9. You would think that that the global ocean during the long term glacial advances when ocean temps were at their lowest would have then become so ‘acidified’ that the food chain would have collapsed during the last 2.58 million years when the Pleistocene epoch began with the Quaternary glaciation waxing and waning in both hemispheres. Obviously the global ocean food chain didn’t collapse and the good Earth has seen a lot more oscillation in ocean Ph, including wild swings in ocean levels and atmospheric temps between interglacials and the more permanent feature the last 2.6 million years, which has been a full blown ice age the majority of that time. This little bit of warming we have had the last 200 years, which has mostly been natural variation, is even less warm than previous warmer periods such as the Medieval, Roman, Bronze and the Holocene Optimum itself when the most recent glacial advance has retreated. Climate science is becoming more and more deceitful every year. It is no wonder that climate change and global warming is at the bottom of real concerns for the silent majority.

    • Oh, yes, that reminds me. pH is a measure of hydrogen ion concentration. How does CO2 affect that? Well, it combines with H2O to form a weak acid, H2CO3 which then forms the hydrogen ion. Is that right?

      • Jim,
        No, it is activity, not concentration.
        Quite different in solutions with other dissolved species like sea water has.
        Geoff S

  10. Nope, my sarcastic response was wrong.

    From Wikepedia (same photo) “The shell of a pteropod was immersed in ocean water with the projected pH level that the water will reach by the year 2100. After a month and a half in the water, the shell had almost completely dissolved.[9]”

    So they tortured the little bugger on purpose … where is PETA and the anti animal testing zealots?

    (and the reference [9] is to a California study, not Atlantic study; and it’s Wikepedia so it all could be garbage)

    • Excellent Mr M, here’s an acidifying article from National Geographic 2014 with the same image 🙂

      https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/5/140502-ocean-snail-shell-dissolving-acidification-climate-change-science/

      Ocean Acidification Chipping Away at Snail Shells
      Corrosive waters are damaging the shells of marine snails off the U.S. West Coast.
      BY JANE J. LEE, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
      PUBLISHED MAY 4, 2014

      “Ocean acidification isn’t proceeding at a snail’s pace, (ROFL) says new research
      The study finds that corrosive water off the U.S. West Coast is dissolving the shells of a marine snail, also known as a sea butterfly, that is a key player in the coastal food chain.”

      Can’t be many of them left by now.

      • I skimmed the (reference 9) study.

        One of the points made was in the ‘study’ was that, hopefully, the pteropod could be used as a proxy for CO2 environmental damage by seeing how they manage, given the future and ongoing ‘acidification’.

        My guess is that they have not compiled any (significant) base line data yet, since it would be too difficult/expensive to measure all the other contributing variables.

    • DonM: So they tortured the little bugger on purpose

      Nope. They tortured nothing. They introduced “the shell of a pteropod”, not a living pteropod. Which means that the shell dissolution proves nothing. Living pteropods regenerate their shells.

      I bet that if you introduce a fish’s corpse in any water it will also experience some degradation after a month and a half. Yet fish like to live in the water, and do so pretty well.

  11. Looks to me like a piece of fluff on the shell. The image is from Wiki and the caption just says “Unhealthy pteropod showing effects of ocean acidification”. A little ‘harmless’ journalistic license from EurekAlert!. This is a modelling study, move along, nothing to see here.

  12. Has anyone ever reported, or even seen, acidic ocean water? If so, I have not seen the report.

        • jimbrock
          It depends on what you have been eating and how well hydrated one is. My VA workup shows that the normal range for urine is 5.0 to 8.0!

          • Urine gets much of its acid from organic acids generated by the metabolism of meat. Many vegans/vegetarians have higher urinary pH readings and are susceptible to UTIs

    • Strongly acidic ocean water is very common. I used to see it all the time.
      Step 1) Collect your ocean water sample for analysis.
      Step 2) Preserve the sample by “pickling” it. That is to say adding a big slug of concentrated nitric acid (HNO3) to it. This halt all biological activity and prevents the precipitation of the metals present.

      The biology people and oceanography people were carting big plastic jugs of acidified seawater back to the labs all the time.

      (I hope this is what you meant. Just trying to help.)

    • In 2016-17 I always took along a pH meter on field work expeditions. Ocean water was tested along the east and west coasts of North America, the Fiji islands, the Persian Gulf off Qatar, and the east coast of Portugal and showed normal oceanic pH, 8.1-8.3. I never got any reading below 8.1.

      The people claiming “ocean acidification” should be ashamed of themselves! This is not science in any sense of the word, just a shameful, model-based, ploy to convince the gullible that something really bad is happening because of evil CO2.

  13. The international research team exploited the large divergence in simulated Arctic Ocean carbon uptake by current climate models…

    (Followed by total bafflegab.)
    And for our next trick we will be making silk purses from sow’s ears.

    Also how was the sea butterfly’s shell damaged by acidic water in an ocean that is still alkaline? More EurekAlert alarmist nonsense.

  14. pH of 8 it isnt acid. It isnt becoming an acid. Less strong tea is not more strong beer. Tea and beer are not the same thing.

  15. Many studies made by alarmists include the warning…………..” could have serious consequences for the entire food chain” It is wonderful how they worry about things that MAY happen but they completely ignore the massacre happening NOW by wind mill farms and solar panels. What is it/// hypocrisy, intellectual dishonesty, stupidity, greed………. or a combination everything???

  16. Two days ago we had this:

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/06/16/a-carbon-sink-shrinks-in-the-arctic/

    “As carbon dioxide accumulates in the surface layer of the water from melting ice, the amount of carbon dioxide this area of the Arctic Ocean can take from the atmosphere will continue to shrink,”

    And now we have this:

    The results show that the smallest of the seven seas will take up 20% more CO2 over the 21st century than previously expected

    Less CO2 uptake in the Arctic Ocean = bad news.
    More CO2 uptake in the Arctic Ocean = bad news.
    Settled science?
    In fact “bad news” is the only thing in Climate Science that is actually settled.

  17. “The Arctic Ocean will take up more CO2 over the 21st century than predicted by most climate models. This additional CO2 causes a distinctly stronger ocean acidification.”

    Do some people fear drinking orange juice?

    Though all climate models have wrongly predicted everything.
    Merely because all models don’t predict anything in future.
    Models projecting what in the future.
    Is like the question what do think will happen tomorrow.
    Anyone can give such a model, and roughly anyone might roughly be right about what will happen
    tomorrow. Ie, they probably be living on Earth. The sun will exist. Etc.
    Anyhow, ocean solidification is not vaguely a problem to worry about.

    And worrying about CO2 effecting it, just means you are stupid.
    No one has any excuse to worry about a gas that plant food and is in atmosphere at such a low concentration.

    We living in Ice Age. In our Ice Age there is a lower concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere.
    A reason for the low concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is because we have a cold ocean.
    Our cold ocean is also why we are in an Ice Age.

    We have been in this Ice Age for more than a million years. And we will probably remain in this Ice Age for more than million years.
    The warmer part of the Ice Age is called an interglacial period.
    This interglacial period will eventually end or become a glaciation period.
    In glaciation period will have even less CO2 in the atmosphere than we have now, and the CO2 plant food becoming more scarce, will slow down plant growth.
    And this because during glaciation period the ocean will become colder than it is now.
    We have been having a long cooling period for thousands of year.
    And that is what happens when entering a glaciation period- a long slightly cooling trend that continues for thousands of years.
    Do the steep dives in a graph tell different story? No, look time scales of your graph.
    {Also the are graphs are probably air temperature, and not the ocean’s temperature. }
    Now. obviously it’s true that we are recovering from the Little Ice Age.
    But if instead you were in the Little Ice Age, there lots of “proof” that the “glaciation period is very near”.
    The story changes when instead continuation advancing glaciers of Little Ice Age, they start retreat rapidly. Which happened about 100 years ago.
    So now, with our recent warming of last 150 to 200 years, the false idea that very soon we would entering a glaciation {which never happen quickly} is less evident.
    Now get stories/fantasies being replaced with Earth going to become like Venus, and polar bears going die.
    But regardless of fantasies, we still heading toward the next glaciation period. Because we till have a cold ocean and therefore, we are still in a Ice Age.
    I would guess, ocean solidification delusions are a replacement delusion for rapid warming that didn’t occur- a a stupid psychotic admission that there isn’t a problem with Earth becoming like Venus.
    Should we pity them?
    It seems if so, we should also pity the pathetic Peak Oil freaks.

    But as a note, it seems we are past Peak Coal.
    But of course, not due to a world shortage of coal, rather more similar to the
    Peak Horse Manure.
    And while topic, curious if we had past the peak of burning down the trees
    for “Biomass”. Due to exponential growth of global government corruption- it’s hard
    to predict.

  18. They’re just making it up as they go along to get the scary headlines. These people are indistinguishable from racketeers.

  19. All sorts of “sophisticated” computer models are used by these fools, yet they seem completely oblivious of the simple physical chemistry of pH buffering by carbonate and bicarbonate ions in seawater.

  20. Just what is the solubility of an acid gas in an infinitely buffered alkaline solution?

    Asking for a friend.

  21. Can anyone tell me this – I have been arguing with alarmists forever about it. Is the ocean largely saturated in regard to carbonate and bicarbonate dissolution? Of course, saturation is temperature dependent, but almost all the ocean is in near contact with CaCo3 isn’t it? Science education appreciated.

    • Caz,

      The ocean surface (the “mixed layer”, the upper few hundred meters) is in direct contact with the atmosphere and is in rapid equilibrium with the atmosphere for most gases in solution. The exchange rate for CO2 e.g. is less than a year and within a few years, the surface follows the CO2 increase in the atmosphere or reverse, but currently it is one-way from the atmosphere into the oceans (pCO2 difference: average 7 μatm higher in the atmosphere), besides the two-way seasonal exchanges.

      According to Henry’s law, there is a fixed ratio between CO2 in solution and in the atmosphere for a fixed temperature, thus a 30% increase in the atmosphere will give a 30% increase of pure CO2 in solution. That is the case in fresh water. In seawater, pure CO2 is less than 1% of all dissolved inorganic carbon compounds, 90% is bicarbonate and 9% is carbonate. As all these species are connected with each other in equilibria, that makes that also bicarbonate and carbonate increase, but also H+. The pH drop is the cause that less carbonates and bicarbonates are formed than expected: about a factor 10 less, but still 10 times more total DIC (CO2+(bi)carbonates) than in fresh water.
      That is called the Revelle or buffer factor.
      The amounts: the 35% increase of CO2 in the atmosphere thus increased the DIC of the ocean surface with around 3.5%. As the surface layer contains about 1,000 GtC, the total increase is only 35 GtC of the near 400 GtC emitted by humans.
      So far the alarmists are rigth, as the surface layer is rather isolated from the deep oceans and there is no direct contact with carbonate layers, except in coastal areas or shallow seas.

      Then we have the deep oceans. The only direct exchange between atmosphere and deep oceans is via the polar sink places and returns via the (mostly equatorial) upwelling places. That is restricted to about 40 GtC/year, but so far from saturated, that it will go on for many centuries. At the coldest places the pCO2 of the oceans is only 150 μatm. With 410 μatm (~ppmv) in the atmosphere, the driving force is 260 μatm pressure difference, which is good for pressing about 2-3 GtC extra CO2/year into the deep oceans.
      As the deep oceans are highly undersaturated in CO2, that process can go on for many centuries without a sign of saturaiton. The only drawback is the speed of uptake, as the deep ocean – atmosphere exchange is very limited…

  22. Since CO2 in water is related to its temperature, they seem to be saying the water will get colder.

    That’s gerbal worming for ya. !

  23. So if the ocean will absorb and neutralize more CO2 than we thought, and it accounts for most of the CO2 storage in the first place, then CO2 levels in the air will not increase as much as we thought, and global warming will be lower.

    This is good news, right?

  24. “The ocean takes up large amounts of man-made CO2 from the atmosphere.”

    How does the Arctic Ocean (or any other ocean) differentiate between man-made and natural CO2? Does it look for the trademark?

  25. Just looked up pH on Wikipedia. Says pH of neutral is lower at warmer temperatures, can even be lower than 7. Is global warming going to be the solution?

  26. This is a con job. A bait and switch. A straight-out lie.
    They have put a snail in an aquarium, added an unrealistic amount of acid (from out of a reagent bottle) and the snail’s shell has (unsurprisingly) suffered damage.
    They have then made a pie-in-the-sky prediction about future ocean acidification.
    The juxtaposition of the photograph of the damaged snail PLUS the claims about future acidification could [is intended to] lead the naïve believers to believe that the damaged snail in the photograph is an actual specimen taken from arctic waters

  27. The picture of the cracked snail shell has nothing to do with the paper.
    It seems to have been added by EurekaAlert (a.k.a. AAAS) to sex-up and add a splash of colour to an otherwise monochromatic story.

  28. ” In sufficiently acidic waters, …”

    Let me know when the oceans become acidic. Then I’ll start watching to see if it becomes “sufficiently acidic” to dissolve carbonate shells.

  29. To absorb more CO2 the water must get colder, hmmmm. Global warming — warmer atmosphere and colder oceans! Sounds like a model to me.

  30. The international research team exploited the large divergence in simulated Arctic Ocean carbon uptake by current climate models. The researchers found a physical relationship across the models

    There was no research. It was all mathematical onanism.

    Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.

  31. As most commentators here note, measured in the open ocean, sea water is basic with a pH of about 8.1 worldwide down from about 8.2 a century ago.
    But the pH varies in various sites in the oceans by the month week day or even hours.
    See Hofmann et al 2011.
    This study found that pH changes were large, from 0.1 to 1.4 units over a 30 day period. They also found that pH changed by as much as 0.35 units over a course of days.
    The study concluded that “ climatology based forecasts consistently under estimate natural variability,” and that ocean residents “are already experiencing pH regimes that are not predicted until 2100” by the climate models.
    The oceans will never be acidic.
    What this paper is discussing is a fear of impacts from reduction in alkalinity.
    From The Royal Society, “Ocean acidification due to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide”, June 2005,we learned that according to computer models, doubling of atmospheric CO2 would decrease ocean pH to about 7.9, still basic but less so.
    The fear of ocean acidification from CO2 is hugely overstated.
    Indeed next to polar bear propaganda, it is the most confected non issue going around.

    • “Herbert June 18, 2020 at 7:32 pm

      As most commentators here note, measured in the open ocean, sea water is basic with a pH of about 8.1 worldwide down from about 8.2 a century ago.”

      That is a modelled estimate not a measure.

  32. The pH of the open ocean (pH 8.1) is 10 times more alkaline than rainwater (ph 7). Given that the ocean basins are basaltic rock, it is chemically impossible for the oceans to acidify (fall below pH 7). The correct term for falling pH in an alkaline solution is neutralization, NOT acidification.
    This is Inorganic Chem 101.

    • ”The correct term for falling pH in an alkaline solution is neutralization”

      But is it?
      Neutralization means to make neutral and that’s far from what’s happening.

      From Britanica Chem…

      ”….. but as long as the concentration of the added substances is small compared to the concentration of the individual buffer components, the new hydrogen ion concentration will remain close to its original value.”

      I am still waiting to see proof and an explanation of a reduction in alkalinity in the ocean caused by co2

  33. For ‘Anthropogenic Global Warming’ followers it must be great news as CO2 bonding with H2O inversely proportionate to temperature to form H2CO3 (carbonic acid) implies that ocean acidification is a sign of global cooling.

  34. YAWN! Get back to me when we can actually measure ocean pH with reliability and when it is measured to be below 7. Otherwise this is just pure BS!

  35. Normally a post like this in WUWT would have had a title like:

    “Claim: Arctic Ocean Acidification worse than previously expected”.

    But this time the “Claim” part has been omitted. Like if it was true, despite it is nothing but a modelled prediction. Not to mention the pretended terrible consequences of such an acidification that the article contains despite it is nothing that comes out of the model, just purely trash-talk with the intention to scare. What’s up with that?

  36. Well well…

    The same Bern University which assumes in its “Bern model” that the whole ocean surface is uniform and continuously saturated by our CO2 emissions now admits that the polar waters may absorb 20% more CO2 than expected?
    Until now, there is no sign of saturation in polar waters and they continue to absorb CO2 in ratio to the extra CO2 pressure in the atmosphere. That CO2 sinks with the polar waters into the deep ocean, which are far from saturated to return ~1000 years later near the equator. The net effect of all our emissions until now, once they are mixed with the deep oceans is an increase of ~1% in deep ocean carbon. Once in equilibrium with the atmosphere, that means about 3 ppmv extra, that is all…

    The only negative point is that the direct exchange rate between atmosphere and deep oceans is limited to about 40 GtC/year and that currently only 2-3 GtC/year extra CO2 is absorbed by the deep oceans. Together with the extra uptake by vegetation, that gives a half life time for any extra CO2 above equilibrium of about 35 year (e-decay ~50 years).

  37. The Swiss University of Bern is where the IPCC Comitee Member Prof. Thomas Stocker (a known “hot climate” modeller) comes from. He is also President of this new Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research. Another garbage in garbage out study. Is there anything else to expect? It doesn’t matter, the taxpayer research money just flows…
    With the present left-green majority in the Swiss parliament, more “green blob literature” of these sorts is to be expected in the future.

  38. When I read of ocean acidification in any article I switch off. If those writing the article don’t refer to alkaline reduction and produce the figures, they are grossly biased in their presentation methods.
    These people (scientists??) must be aware of the connotations involved in the word acidic however technically correct it may be. Use of it only reinforces the propagandist nature of the article peddling the alarmist Meme and detracts from the reputation of science in terms of honesty.

  39. From the second paragraph of the above University of Bern blurb:
    “The ocean takes up large amounts of man-made CO2 from the atmosphere. This additional CO2 causes ocean acidification, a process that can already be observed today.”

    Nothing could be further from the truth.

    It is true that carbonic acid (H2CO3) is initially created as gaseous CO2 initially dissolves into seawater (or rainwater). However, H2CO3 is not stable and very quickly decays into bicarbonate and carbonate negative ions, with accompanying formation of hydronium positive ions. The hydronium ions very quickly react with OH- ions (abundant in water with a pH greater that 7.0) to produce neutral pH water, or they react with other oxidizing ions already present in solution, and thus they are rapidly removed as potential reactants. It is the formation of bicarbonate and carbonate ions in seawater that causes the world’s oceans to be a highly stable, strongly buffered solution with an average pH in the range of 8.1-8.2.

    So, it is actually the absorption of CO2 by seawater that maintains the dissolved ions necessary to buffer the solution on the basic side of the pH scale.

    BTW, rain and snow have a pH in the range of 5-6, and are very likely the largest forcings that attempt to drive the world’s oceans toward a pH of 7 (neutrality). The Arctic receives an annual precipitation, mostly snow, of about 15 to 25 cm (6 to 10 inches).

    • I have long advocated that the climate change alarmist term ‘ocean acidification’, intended to mean a pH reduction, is a sign of global cooling. As H2CO3 bonding happens inversely proportional to temperature it implies that.

      Snow is a crystal lattice without CO2. Under cold enough conditions H2O precipitates that way from the absence of CO2 after H2O has stripped that out of the air. Enrichment with CO2 happens from melting and reworking during the warmer times of the year That’s why ice cores have much lower CO2 values than at 3.4 km altitude in the tropical updraft at Mauna Loa from the most intense solar heating of the ocean on the planet and from the centrifugal force of the about 1,677 km/h equatorial speed of rotation,
      ‘Climate change’ is BS aimed at keeping the WMO/UN/IPCC/NOAA gravy train topped up. Every scientist will know that bureaucrats extend their power and influence by making other people do what they need to do to justify their existence and make themselves look good.

      See: https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-major-errors-made-by-scientists-in-approaching-a-climate-change-problem/answer/John-Bruyn

      • Actually, snow can crystallize from air moisture that has already absorbed CO2, and thereby contains a significant amount of carbonic acid. Since there is usually no quantity of hydronium ions (or other reducing ions) present in air during snow formation, the carbonic acid is stable because the water forming the ice remains on the acidic side of the pH scale. Specifically, CO2 “enrichment” does NOT happen during the melting of snow that has precipitated out of the air.

        Nawrot, et.al., in “Chemistry of snow cover and acidic snowfall during a season with a high level of air pollution on the Hans Glacier, Spitsbergen”, 2016 (free PDF download available at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1873965216300457 ) measured the pH of FRESH natural snowfall on the Hans Glacier at different altitudes and found that it varied over the range of 3.4 to 5.0, with the variation being much much more dependent on time-of-year than on the altitude of the snowfall (ref. Figure 6 of the cited paper).

        • If the moisture had already absorbed CO2 it would’ve precipitated as rain, hail, or sleet, which of course happens. However, 1 CO2 molecule bonding with H2O and forming H2CO3, is 2.44 times more massive than H2O and becomes a condensation nucleus, making water droplets more massive than N2 and O2. Depending on temperature and pressure it will precipitate very quickly. Under the same conditions, not having the CO2 makes H2O stay up in the air and wait for the right conditions to precipitate as snow.

          The Hans glacier, Spitsbergen, Norway is a special case of collecting air pollution from lower latitudes that drop the pH as you mentioned. CO2 is not listed as it is not a pollutant and does not contribute to the acidification.

          • Sorry, but one molecule of carbonic acid (H2CO3) is far too small to form a condensation nuclei. Even 1000 such molecules grouped together would be far too small.

            Water has a molecular diameter of about 2.8 Å and CO2 has a molecular size of about 3.3 Å (long axis) . . . thus, the largest dimension of a H2CO3 molecule would be approximately 6 Å, or about 6E-10 m, or about 6E-7 mm, or about 0.0006 µm

            “Water requires a non-gaseous surface to make the transition from a vapour to a liquid . . . A typical raindrop is about 2 mm in diameter, a typical cloud droplet is on the order of 0.02 mm, and a typical cloud condensation nucleus (aerosol) is on the order of 0.0001 mm or 0.1 µm or greater in diameter.” — source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_condensation_nuclei

            Furthermore, the process could never act as you propose for if it did, then the current level of about 410 ppm of tropospheric CO2 would quickly be removed by the overwhelming level of water vapor typically in Earth’s troposphere (ranging from 3640 ppm wt. at 32 °F dew point to 14,330 ppm wt. at 68 °F dew point).

            Finally, the motions of molecules (or groupings of say hundreds of such molecules) of any substance found in the Earth’s atmosphere are most strongly governed by diffusion and convection processes, and not gravitational (i.e., precipitation) forces, due to their extremely small masses.

            Notwithstanding the above, it is comforting to see your assertion that CO2 does not contribute to acidification in your concluding sentence.

          • Thank you, Gordon. It seems to me that you are cherry-picking. The massive fires in south-eastern Australia during their 2019/20 fire season were followed by unprecedented hailstorms and lots of rain. According to your thinking, CO2 had nothing to do with that but the 0.04% CO2 as measured in overnight dew in the tropical updraft to 100+ km with around -100 C temperatures and circulating back down from there can warm the planet with its very narrow LIR absorption bands. They provide CO2 barely enough energy to separate from H2CO3 when reaching the surface and helps to make the grass grow. FYI, the atmosphere is not the same as a laboratory on the surface. AGW protagonists have a one-eyed view of the world that is far removed from the real world where the blades of hockey stick graphs keep on sliding ahead of us over time.

            It is a bit like meteorologist do with their models. They make predictions and update these until they match the observations on the time of day and simply ignore that if that too was wrong by recording the actual observations. Climatologists, however, wrongly interpret the observed warming since about 1970 to be from the rising CO2, which is due to the increasing speed of Earth’s rotation caused by the reducing eccentricity of Earth’s orbits for the next 10,000+ years.
            Looking at the Solar Simulator 2 (can be downloaded for free, no strings attached) we can see that the warming since 1970 perfectly correlates with the time that Earth laps Uranus moved into the NH warming half of the year that started in 1969 when lapping both Uranus and Neptune at the time of the March equinox. The annual progression for lapping Jupiter is 34 days, which makes it come around to that time every 22 years, hence the solar magnetic cycle of that duration as observed from Earth.
            For Uranus that takes 84 years, with a half cycle of 42 years driving the polar see-saw effect too. When Earth laps Uranus during the half-cycle affecting the NH this warms the Arctic more by slightly increasing the tilt of Earth’s spin axis. As you can see from the SS2 that ended in 2010 but coincided with Saturn taking over with a more profound polar effect and taking 29.5 years to get around, giving a half cycle of about 13 years that is now nearing its end. Together will Uranus this will start the warming of the Antarctic while the Arctic will be cooling. It all shows that we are not just living on Earth but in the entire solar system.

            To see how Earth’s temperatures are affected in the short term and over the longer-term feel free to check out my answers on Quora, e.g. https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-major-errors-made-by-scientists-in-approaching-a-climate-change-problem/answer/John-Bruyn

      • John Bruyn,

        Snow crystals indeed don’t include CO2, but there is no change in CO2/N2 ratio when water condenses to snow, as temperatures e.g. in Antarctica are much too low to give any liquid water.
        The same for ice cores, where the pores between the snow crystals are getting smaller and smaller, but still allow exchanges between the atmosphere and the layers below for 40 to hundreds of years (depending of the accumulation rate), before the layers are sealed off.
        At sealing depth, the CO2 level is only 7 ppmv lower (~10 years “younger” in average) than the outside air. Measured at Law Dome in the 1980’s…

        • Ferdinand stated: “Snow crystals indeed don’t include CO2 . . .”

          To first order, this appears to be incorrect. Stauffer and Berner, in their article “CO2 in Natural Ice”, Journal of Glaciology, 1978 (free pdf copy available at https://www.cambridge.org/core/services/aop-cambridge-core/content/view/16C2FF52DC79BA7A58AF069168183F1D/S0022143000033487a.pdf/co2_in_natural_ice.pdf ) presented gas chromatograph data obtained from FRESH snowfall ice crystals showing that the concentration of CO2 dissolved in the snow ice crystals ranged from 0.02 to 0.28 ml (STP) CO2 per kg ice.

          They also present similar gas analysis data obtained from a SINGLE ICE CRYSTAL (about 10 cm diameter) grown in a laboratory in 1974. Sample 1 was taken from one face of the disc that had been exposed to the atmosphere for “considerable time” (in “Discussion” on the last page of the article this was clarified to be approximately three years) and it contained 0.088 ml (STP) CO2/kg ice. Sample 2 was taken from the outer part of the adjoining disc and it contained 0.050 ml CO2/kg ice. Sample 3 was from its inner part of the single ice crystal and was found to contain 0.051 ml CO2/kg ice.

          In that referenced article, Stauffer and Berner concluded:
          “CO2 in natural ice is present partly in the gas of the air bubbles. Another, and in most
          cases greater, part of it is dissolved in the ice.
          “It is probable that a local equilibrium is reached between the CO2 dissolved in the ice
          and the CO2 of the surroundings and of the air bubbles.”

          To the best of my knowledge, the data and conclusions in the Stauffer and Berner article have not been invalidated.

          • In the paper https://www.cambridge.org/core/services/aop-cambridge-core/content/view/16C2FF52DC79BA7A58AF069168183F1D/S0022143000033487a.pdf/co2_in_natural_ice.pdf ) the authors admit to many assumptions and uncertainties. They conclude:
            ‘the CO2 content of ancient air is neither directly preserved in the total CO2 concentration nor in the CO2 concentration in the bubbles.’
            The CO2 measured in fresh snow was much lower than in hail. On that basis I stand corrected that indeed there is CO2 in snow and I thank Gordon for pointing that out. However, the source altitude and location of the ice crystals at the poles is not known and cannot reasonably testify to the assumed global atmospheric CO2 uniformity in support of ‘raditive forcing’ and the AGW concept. Furthermore, the slow rise in CO2 in the tropical updraft as measured at Mauna Loa relates to the increasing speed of Earth’s rotation caused by the 41,000 obliquity cycle of Milankovic and will continue for the best part of the next 10,000 years. Anthropogenic CO2 emissions are mostly used by photosynthesis on land and in the ocean; to the extent that they are not they are precipitated and sequestrated by the cooler part of the ocean at high latitudes.

          • Gordon,

            Your reference is completely outdated. The melting method for CO2 in ice cores is completely abandoned, as that gives a lot of false results, especially in Greenland ice cores, where there is frequent deposit of highly acid volcanic dust from nearby Icelandic volcanoes. Together wit sea salt deposits (including carbonates) that gives you any amount of CO2 you like…
            That is the reason that nobody still uses melting to measure CO2 in ice cores (but still used for other gases like CH4), but either grating to detect only CO2 in the enclosed bubbles or sublimation of everything, which recovers 99.99% of all included gases and isotopes – including in the ice matrix – over mass spectrometry. That the grating technique shows good results can be seen by comparing these two methods which give roughly the same results.
            Most of the test I see in that report are from “warm” ice, that is ice near melting, which contains relative much water – and impurities, where CO2 can be dissolved in the water veins. For colder coastal (-20ºC) and inland (-40ºC) snow/ice that is less contaminated, that is not the case and all ice cores at Antarctica are within +/- 5 ppmv for the same average age…

          • Ferdinand,
            You are focusing on CO2 measurements obtained on ice cores. I clearly referred to CO2 measurements made on fresh snowfall.

            There is a difference.

        • ‘…there is no change in CO2/N2 ratio when water condenses to snow’

          The points made were that during the cooler times of the year CO2 is precipitated mostly at lower latitudes and that snow does not take CO2 down to the surface but is enriched with that during the warmer times of the year. Ultimately, it is ridiculous to regard CO2 to have a uniform distribution around the globe and to rely on overnight dew at 3.4 km altitude to pretend that to be the same as in molten and reworked snow and ice at the poles and saying that human beings are causing global warming. That amounts to gross ignorance. Here is another useful link
          https://www.quora.com/Because-of-global-warming-should-we-go-back-to-using-animals-like-horses-and-camels-for-transport-and-towing/answer/John-Bruyn?__nsrc__=4&__snid3__=9043412052

          • John Bruyn,

            If you look at the amount of air you need to drop out 1 liter of rainwater and how little CO2 is dissolved in that water, there is simply no detectable change in the CO2 level where water condenses. The same where that water drops on a solid floor and immediately evaporates: For 1 mm rain, that gives less than 1 ppmv extra in the first meter of air…

            CO2 levels all over the globe (except in the first few hundred meters over land) are within +/- 2% of full scale from near the North Pole to the South Pole, including the seasonal amplitude and a NH-SH lag (90% of human emissions are in the NH). Despite a 20% exchange of all CO2 over the seasons with the oceans and the biosphere.
            I call that very well mixed.

            CO2 in ice cores was measured from top down snow/firn to ice at Law Dome. There is an overlap between the ice core and direct measurements at the South pole for the period 1960-1980 where ice cores show the same CO2 levels within 1.2 ppmv (1 sigma):
            http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/law_dome_sp_co2.jpg

            Thus sorry, one can attack CAGW on many points, but that humans are responsible for the recent increase of CO2, CH4 and N2O is rock solid science…

          • Ferdinand
            I accept what you are saying. What we are talking about is the rising CO2 in overnight dew at 3.4km altitude in the tropical updraft vs what is shown in ice cores and the ‘ocean acidification’ in the southern ocean, which has been cooling due to illumination differences of the poles caused by Earth lapping Saturn. Look at the sea ice pic in what I wrote in answer to this Quora question https://www.quora.com/Because-of-global-warming-should-we-go-back-to-using-animals-like-horses-and-camels-for-transport-and-towing/answer/John-Bruyn?__nsrc__=4&__snid3__=9043412052
            And, use the Solar Simulator 2 to see what is happening on the 21st September 2025. With Earth first lapping Saturn and Neptune and then Uranus and Jupiter from the September equinox to the March equinox, this will cause cooling in the Arctic and warm the Antarctic as. The Jupiter cycle is only 6 years max per hemisphere, Saturn takes 15 years, Uranus takes 42 years, and Neptune takes 86 years per hemisphere. That is where the long recognised see-saw effect of the Arctic and Antarctic temperatures are coming from.
            For the past 9,700 years or so the 41,000-year obliquity cycle has been reducing the eccentricity of Earth’s orbits and increasing the speed of Earth’s rotation, thus increasing the surface airflow and CO2 going up as measured at Mauna Loa. That will continue for the next 10,000+ years.
            Our CO2 emissions are poultry compared with the natural cycle and cannot be cumulative because of the seasonal cycle and its circulation through the -100C in the upper atmosphere before coming back down again and doing so quite evenly but varying with the seasons and matching insolation.

  40. “The researchers found a physical relationship across the models between the simulation of present-day Arctic sea surface densities and associated deep-water formation, with greater deep-water formation causing enhanced transport of carbon into the ocean interior and therefore enhanced acidification”

    There is no such thing as a “physical relationship” across “models”. Models aren’t physical or real. They are imaginary mathematical constructs designed to represent hypotheses of how the real world works. The fact the authors confuse this is evidence of why media announcements often misinform readers as to the limited value of models in predicting future events.

      • John,

        You should have read the link by Chaamjamal, as he is completely on your side…

        But you both probably have never heard of something that is called a mass balance?
        If humans emit every year in the past 60 years about twice the amount of CO2 that is measured as increase in the atmosphere, then humans are to blame for the increase, whatever the height and mass of any and all natural fluxes individual or together…

      • You are right, I had not previously considered that. It fits perfectly with the changing obliquity angle bringing CO2 closer to the tropics where it is needed for photosynthesis.
        My apologies to Chamjamaal

  41. Just based on a layman’s reading of the abstract, here’s my translation:
    “We *simulated* the present-day density of Arctic surface waters, used that to hazard a guess at Arctic deep-water formation. We then used this guess based on a simulation as the starting point for a future projection using a known faulty progression curve, and feel fully justified in publishing the results of our simulation->guess->pure-bs as if they were actual science…”

  42. There are so many hinges of unknowns in the “causal chain” from co2 to harm to sea creatures. Other than a pre-ordained bias of OMG we are doomed.

  43. Thanks all for enhancing my knowledge of some of the finer aspects of CO2 and water. Of one thing we can all be certain: as soon as the phrase “worse than we thought” is is mentioned in any “peer-reviewed” paper, know that it refers to the quality of the science contained therein, and not to the conclusions based on the outcome of models based on models…..

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