Fundamentals of Ocean pH

From the CO2 coalition.

R. Cohen and W. Happer – September 18, 2015 (republished November 21, 2021)

1 Introduction

We are often told that the CO2 released from burning fossil fuels will cause dangerous ocean acidification. Actually the oceans will remain comfortably alkaline and hospitable to life for the foreseeable future. This brief note is a quantitative review of the physical chemistry of ocean pH. High school chemistry and algebra should provide enough background to follow the discussion. An excellent introduction to the chemistry of the oceans can be found in the book: Seawater: Its Composition, Properties and Behavior, by Wright and Colling. More details on ocean pH can be found in a recent review by Tans.

2 Alkalinity of the Unbuffered Ocean

Ocean water is salty because of the weathering of the earth’s rocks by rainwater, and because of salts dissolved from the ocean floor, especially near plate-spreading boundaries. The salt water contains positive ions (cations), mainly sodium Na+, magnesium Mg2+, calcium Ca2+ and potassium K+. For clarity, we can think of the ions as coming from the strong bases NaOH, and potassium hydroxide, KOH (lye) and much less soluble magnesium hydroxide, Mg(OH)2 and calcium hydroxide Ca(OH)2 (slaked lime). The ocean also contains negative ions (anions), mainly chloride Cl− and sulfate SO2 , which we can think of the anions as coming from the strong acids, hydrochloric acid, HCl and sulfuric acid, H2SO4. For want of a better word, we will refer to the cations of strong bases, and anions of strong acids as pH-independent ions. The concentration of pH-independent ions is unaffected by normal changes in the pH of water.

Download the entire paper here: 2015 Cohen Happer Fundamentals of Ocean pH

Roger Cohen was a co-founder of the CO2 Coalition and a highly regarded physicist with major contributions to materials science and industrial management. He passed away on September 10, 2016, less than one year after completing this important paper.

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Steve Harford
November 22, 2021 2:13 pm

Summary:

The oceans would be highly alkaline with a pH of about 11.4, similar to that of household ammonia, if there were no weak acids to buffer the alkalinity. Almost all of the buffering is provided by dissolved CO2, with very minor additional buffering from boric acid, silicic acid and other even less important species. •

As shown in Fig. 1, doubling atmospheric CO2 from the current level of 400 ppm to 800 ppm only decreases the pH of ocean water from about 8.2 to 7.9. This is well within the day-night fluctuations that already occur because of photosynthesis by plankton and less than the pH decreases with depth that occur because of the biological pump and the dissolution of calcium carbonate precipitates below the lysocline.

As shown in Fig. 2, doubling atmospheric CO2 from the current level of 400 ppm to 800 ppm only decreases the carbonate-ion concentration, [CO2− 3 ], by about 30%. Ocean surface waters are already supersaturated by several hundred per cent for formation of CaCO3 crystals from Ca2+ and CO2− 3 . So scare stories about dissolving carbonate shells are nonsense. •

As shown in Fig. 7, the ocean has only absorbed 1/3 or less of the CO2 that it would eventually absorb when the concentrations of CO2 in the deep oceans came to equilibrium with surface concentrations. Effects like that of the biological pump and calcium carbonate dissolution below the lysocline allow the ocean to absorb substantially more than the amount that would be in chemical-equilibrium with the atmosphere. •

Over most of the Phanerozoic, the past 550 million years, CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere have been measured in thousands of parts per million, and life flourished in both the oceans and on land. This is hardly surprising, given the relative insensitivity of ocean pH to large changes in CO2 concentrations that we have discussed above, and given the fact that the pH changes that do occur are small compared to the natural variations of ocean pH in space and time.

Mike Lowe
Reply to  Steve Harford
November 22, 2021 2:22 pm

Indeed, while political people worldwide seem to want to vilify carbon dioxide, it would surely be preferable for us to take whatever steps we can to INCREASE it towards the 1,000ppm.

Mike
Reply to  Steve Harford
November 22, 2021 4:12 pm

”As shown in Fig. 1, doubling atmospheric CO2 from the current level of 400 ppm to 800 ppm only decreases the pH of ocean water from about 8.2 to 7.9.

I’m no expert but I question this. In my studies of soil pH (which is just a measurement of water in the soil), I was lead to believe that pH will not change (regardless of added acids) until all the carbonates and bicarbonates have been dissolved. I don’t think co2 can permanently alter ocean pH at all. Where are the readings taken? We need to consider the whole ocean including all solid calcium carbonate and not just the surface.

Last edited 10 days ago by Mike
Latitude
Reply to  Mike
November 23, 2021 4:15 pm

Mike, you’re 100% right….you can’t change the pH…until you deplete the buffer

Ron Long
November 22, 2021 2:28 pm

I think most of the WATTS readers cringe when they hear “ocean acidification”.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Ron Long
November 22, 2021 3:41 pm

True, but skeptics lost that PR battle many years ago.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Rud Istvan
November 22, 2021 6:52 pm

You are the one who routinely advocates ridiculing alarmists. That is exactly what an article like this does. It demonstrates that the alarmist scientists and their MSM lap dogs, who claim to follow the science, have got the science wrong and are either incompetent or are purposely lying to the public. When “OA” is entrenched in the dialog, it is difficult to squirm out of responsibility when their nose is being rubbed in it.

Alan the Brit
Reply to  Ron Long
November 22, 2021 10:53 pm

I suspect it is due to ignorance & wishing to be easily lead into believing political manipulation, people love a scare-story, it has been happening for centuries if not millenia!!! If an element/substance becomes slightly less alkaline, it doesn’t mean it is becoming acidic!!!

JohnC
Reply to  Ron Long
November 23, 2021 12:24 am

Physicians refer to acidosis or acidotic (e.g. diabetic ketoacidosis) when the blood pH drops below its normal range, although it is still alkaline. The blood is unsurprisingly not a bad analogue for the ocean.

bdgwx
Reply to  JohnC
November 23, 2021 7:33 am

That’s pretty interesting. I had not realized the medical field had adopted a similar term for the same general concept.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Ron Long
November 23, 2021 5:51 am

“I think most of the WATTS readers cringe when they hear “ocean acidification”.”

I certainly do. Much ado about nothing.

Joao Martins
Reply to  Tom Abbott
November 23, 2021 9:50 am

I also certainly do.

I concede that there may (MAY!) be be some ground in calling “acidification” a reduction of the value of pH. But, actually, this results from the ambiguity in the meaning of “to acidify”: does it mean “to turn acidic” or “to reduce the pH”?

The scalle of pH is not a scale of “acidity”. If it was, it would be also a scale of “alkalinity”. Which would create the bizarre situation of a chemical magnitude having two names. Or we would have to consider the “negative acidity” being represented by positive values between 7 and 14; given, also, that there is not such a thing as a negative concentration of hydrogen-ions.

The scale of pH is what is implied in “pH”: a (logarithmic) scale of hydrogen-ion concentration.

So, I prefer to use “acid”, “acidity” and “acidification” when referring to what happens at pH between 0 and 7; likewise, I use “alkaline, alkalinity”, “alkalinization” when referring to what happens between pH 7 and 14. In so doing, I understand that I am dividing the range of one chemical magnitude in two halves with different names; but this, while not correct, is in conformity with long historical use.

Thus, the ocean phenomenon should be called “reduced/reducing alkalinity”, NOT as “acidification”.

Nevertheless, this is nothing more than a personal opinion and preference.

Phil Rae
November 22, 2021 2:44 pm

It was the nonsensical claims about ocean acidification that first made me start to pay attention to the whole, bogus CO2/CAGW industry. Once I started to look at the claims, it was obvious the emperor had no clothes and that CAGW was just a charade.

SxyxS
Reply to  Phil Rae
November 22, 2021 4:07 pm

For an uneducated moron like me
it became obvious that acidification is a nothingburger after i realized that the most fertile period for life happened at 7000-8000 ppm co2 levels(Cambrian explosion).
Neither were those co2 levels able to create a runaway effect in millions of years nor did the ocean turn into an acidsoup.

Why and how should it happen now?
If millions of years of history are on our side
– on which side are the scientists?

I guess there is a reason why this kind of science is always so wrong with its predictions and has to rely on antiscientific methods
like authority,censorship,consense,nobel prizes,oscars,celebrities,shaming,cancelling,intimidation and lies.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  SxyxS
November 23, 2021 5:55 am

“Why and how should it happen now?
If millions of years of history are on our side
– on which side are the scientists?”

Your comment summed it up real good.

History is the skeptic’s friend. History tells us we have nothing to worry about with this ocean acidification issue.

dodgy geezer
November 22, 2021 2:53 pm

There is absolutely no point in presenting a scientific argument about ocean acidification, or any other aspect of climate change. These are not topics in which beliefs are held for logical reasons.

I suspect that these are social movements driven by groups who want to acquire power. Look at what they do. Protesters against slavery do not address any current slave-operating country – they confine themselves to attacking museums. Opponents of poverty in third-world countries do not try to alleviate their plight – they support immigrants who are going to be the richest and luckiest people rather than the poorest.

I don’t know how to fight back against this wave of fraudulent misinformation, but simply trolling the truth does not seem to be getting us anywhere….

DMacKenzie
Reply to  dodgy geezer
November 22, 2021 3:14 pm

1) Tell the truth…2) add in some numbers people can confirm with a simple net search…and 3) close by ridiculing the source statements you are objecting to….
An ounce of ridicule will neutralize a ton of supposition and swing the majority of readers to appreciating your viewpoint. Don’t give up, Dodgy Geezer !

AndyHce
Reply to  DMacKenzie
November 22, 2021 3:44 pm

Dreamer!

DrEd
Reply to  DMacKenzie
November 22, 2021 4:58 pm

And don’t forget to vote, and to support the right businesses.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  dodgy geezer
November 22, 2021 3:43 pm

DG, add ridicule to facts. Gets under their skin. See Mann for exhibit A.

Gottlob
Reply to  Rud Istvan
November 22, 2021 4:28 pm

Ridicule, when it reaches critical mass, is a powerful force.

Scissor
Reply to  dodgy geezer
November 22, 2021 5:01 pm

I agree with you and by the same token, truth doesn’t matter either. Sadly.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Scissor
November 22, 2021 7:01 pm

truth doesn’t matter

If that were the case, we might as well pack up and go home. The alarmists routinely use pseudo-truth to try to convert the fence sitters. We just have to find a more effective way for the public to be exposed to the real truth.

Perhaps buying enough stocks in publicly-traded news companies to send a representative with proxy votes to the annual stockholders meeting, to demand more objective reporting, would get their attention.

Scissor
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
November 22, 2021 7:40 pm

I guess it will always matter to someone, but politicians lie with impunity today and get away with murder.
I’m reminded of what William Casey, Head of CIA under Reagan, said, “When everything Americans believe is false, our misinformation campaign will be complete.”
So, anyone who believes in truth has their work cut out for them.

Nick Schroeder
November 22, 2021 2:55 pm

The pH scale is log so every whole number is a power/factor of ten.

By definition pH is the negative exponent of the hydrogen ion concentration.
 
For instance, pH 9 is 10^-9 or 1 part per billion, 0.000000001.

pH 8 is 10^-8 or 10 parts per billion, 0.000000010.

To go from pH 9 to pH 8 is factor of 10 or 1,000%!!!! Makes 26% look trivial.

Ocean “acidification” of pH 8.2 to pH 8.1 is a decrease in alkalinity equal to 1 ppb of H ions.
 
I’m fairly certain the ocean flora and fauna don’t even notice.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Nick Schroeder
November 22, 2021 3:46 pm

True. In ocean estuaries where seafood thrives, the pH swing from winter (low, influx of ‘acidic’ freshwater to summer (high, CO2 photosynthesis) is typically about 1.5 pH. And that is typical, not known measured extremes. See essay Shell Games in ebook Blowing Smoke for much more.

Peter
Reply to  Rud Istvan
November 22, 2021 10:00 pm

Even the day-night temperature difference of shallow waters can make the pH vary by a few tenths. Fish, reefs, turtles, and other creatures who live there do not seem to care.

Joao Martins
Reply to  Peter
November 23, 2021 9:54 am

Yes, but have in mind that “a few tenths” is actually several “-fold” of hidrogen-ion concentration: that illustrates the wide resilience/tolerance range of the living organisms.

Scissor
Reply to  Nick Schroeder
November 22, 2021 5:06 pm

Don’t drink Perrier as it’s 10,000% more acidic than tap water.

Andy H
Reply to  Scissor
November 23, 2021 1:45 am

Coca Cola is PH 2.3. I work that out to be 5 million percent the acidity of tap water.

Scissor
Reply to  Andy H
November 23, 2021 3:28 am

Deadly!

commieBob
November 22, 2021 3:01 pm

The CO2 in the ocean dwarfs that in the atmosphere. link It’s 50 or 60 times as much. I leave it to you as an exercise to work out the implications re. ocean acidification.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  commieBob
November 22, 2021 4:04 pm

And the heat capacity of the oceans really, really dwarfs the heat capacity of the atmosphere. It’s about 1,000 times as much. This is why we won’t have any appreciable effect on the overall temperature whatever we do. The buffer, in almost every way, is inconceivably large.

Reply to  commieBob
November 22, 2021 5:21 pm

” I leave it to you as an exercise to work out the implications re. ocean acidification.”
From your link:
” Thanks to these processes, the oceans could ultimately absorb around 95 per cent of the anthropogenic emissions. Because of the slow mixing of the ocean, however, it would take centuries before equilibrium is established. The very gradual buffering of CO2 by the reaction with carbonate sediments might even take millennia. For today’s situation this means that a marked carbon disequilibrium between the ocean and atmosphere will continue to exist for the decades and centuries to come. The world ocean cannot absorb the greenhouse gas as rapidly as it is emitted into the atmosphere by humans. “

Mr.
Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 22, 2021 5:45 pm

The world ocean cannot absorb the greenhouse gas as rapidly as it is emitted into the atmosphere by humans. “

Said no ocean ever.

Andy H
Reply to  Mr.
November 23, 2021 2:03 am

The statement is right on that bit. Otherwise CO2 levels wouldn’t have gone up. I am sure the CO2 can be absorbed but it might take a little while,

If the oceans absorb 7GT a year CO2 and we emit 30GT then every year we emit will currently take 4 years to be absorbed by the oceans. At higher CO2 levels there would be higher absorption rates. By 2050 we may be adapted to the higher CO2 levels, so we might not want to change them back.

bdgwx
Reply to  Mr.
November 23, 2021 5:46 am

Humans pump 9.4 GtC/yr of carbon into the atmosphere. The ocean only takes about 2.5 GtC/yr of that with the biosphere taking about 3.4 GtC/yr. This is definitely a true statement. See Friedlingstein et al. 2020 for details.

Doonman
Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 22, 2021 6:15 pm

No worries, since the Holocene is aging and the next glaciation will allow 90,000 years for the cold oceans to reabsorb everything humans ever emitted.

commieBob
Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 22, 2021 8:20 pm

Bear in mind that, as a fraction of the total CO2 flux, human emissions count for about 1.5%. link

Also bear in mind that atmospheric CO2 lags temperature on all time scales.

The beautiful diagrams such as the one linked above never show error bars and they should. The certainty evinced in the statement you quote is unwarranted.

CO2 solubility, at the temperatures and pressures found everywhere except the top layer of the ocean, is exquisitely sensitive to temperature. And, hey, the oceans are warming. Because of Henry’s Law, it is likely that the oceans control the CO2 in the ocean and not vice versa.

bdgwx
Reply to  commieBob
November 23, 2021 5:59 am

commiebob said: “Bear in mind that, as a fraction of the total CO2 flux, human emissions count for about 1.5%”

That diagram actually shows 3.7% as of 2008. The source is the Global Carbon Project which also says that humans are responsible for 100% of the increase from 280 ppm to 404 ppm and 245% of the net contribution as of 2019. See Friedlingstein et al. 2020 for details.

commiebob said: “Also bear in mind that atmospheric CO2 lags temperature on all time scales.”

In the Vostok and EPICA ice cores. On a global scale though maybe not. See Shakun et al. 2012 for details. It also didn’t lag during the PETM and other ETM events. Nevermind that it cannot possibly be lagging the temperature today since the increase is anthropogenic.

commiebob said: “The beautiful diagrams such as the one linked above never show error bars and they should.”

The error bars are in the publication itself.

commiebob said: “Because of Henry’s Law, it is likely that the oceans control the CO2 in the ocean and not vice versa.”

Both the hydrosphere and the atmosphere control the amount of carbon in both the hydrosphere and atmosphere. It’s not one or the other and it’s not just one that is effected. They are a connected system. And while Henry’s Law is an important analysis tool so are concepts like the Revelle Factor since a lot the carbon is taken up as dissolved inorganic compounds.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 22, 2021 10:45 pm

The world ocean cannot absorb the greenhouse gas as rapidly as it is emitted into the atmosphere by humans.

which is undeniably a good thing since the world is starved for CO2. So far the only thing we have evidence to support is that CO2 has proven to be of great benefit. There’s no reason to believe the oceans have been harmed by increasing carbon dioxide.

Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  Rory Forbes
November 23, 2021 1:43 am

If the oceans did not become acidic soups back when CO2 concentrations were in the thousands of PPM then why would anyone think that the current puny and barely life-supporting level is going to do it? That scientists at Scrips even toyed with this notion does not say anything good about their levels of intellect. The entire stupid idea sounds like something out of the Journal of Irreproducible Results or Mad Magazine, I leave it to those with functioning brains to decide.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Pamela Matlack-Klein
November 23, 2021 9:15 am

The thing of it is, Pamela; we’re not supposed to look at the past. the null hypothesis has been re-imagined and like the hockey stick fraud, they’re still trying to erase the recent past. Even the present is being distorted whenever they conflate weather events with climate. If there are still 50 and 100 year climate events, then they can’t use the 30 year climate standard. To any rational mind none of it should make sense.

Rud Istvan
November 22, 2021 3:21 pm

Wrote about ocean pH in essay Shell Games in ebook Blowing Smoke, before exposing two separate scientific misconduct papers based on the general misunderstanding.

Two fundamentals to keep in mind.
First, ocean pH is highly buffered. Forgetting that caused AR4 to predict a decline from about 8.2 to 7.8 by 2100 thanks to their forecast of rising CO2. The correct calculation given buffering is to 8.05.

Second, ocean pH is highly dependent on biological activity in the photic zone. It varies diurnally, seasonally, and by ecosystem. The global extreme is shallow Florida Bay, where near the mangrove fringed Everglades exit winter pH is as low as 5.4, while 25 miles away near Key West in August it is as high as 9.4. Yet all the organisms in Clorida Bay thrive year round because adapted.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
November 22, 2021 3:41 pm

“Forgetting that caused AR4 to predict a decline from about 8.2 to 7.8 by 2100 thanks to their forecast of rising CO2.”

Of course they didn’t forget buffering. They couldn’t do such a calculation without it. But they did not make that claim. They said, SPM p 14:
“Increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations lead to increasing acidification of the ocean. Projections based on SRES scenarios give reductions in average global surface ocean pH of between 0.14 and 0.35 units over the 21st century, adding to the present decrease of 0.1 units since pre-industrial times. “

Dave Fair
Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 22, 2021 4:18 pm

Uh, 8.2 – 0.35 = 7.85. About what Rud said.

Reply to  Dave Fair
November 22, 2021 4:34 pm

Rud said
8.2 – 8.05 = 0.15
About what the IPCC said.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 22, 2021 11:14 pm

Sorry, Nick. I engaged my fingers before my brain. The point I was trying to make: 8.2 – 0.35 = 7.85, approximately the figure Rud gave for AR4’s calculation of “about 7.8.”

Rud said: “The correct calculation given buffering is to 8.05.” Current pH of 8.2 – 8.05 = 0.15 is correct. But the UN IPCC CliSciFi practitioners said the decrease in pH would be between 0.14 and 0.35, a variance of 0.21 (150%). Not very confidence-inspiring.

Reply to  Dave Fair
November 23, 2021 1:45 am

It is just the arithmetic of the range of scenarios. That isn’t science, it’s an estimate of the sorts of decisions people might make about burning fossil fuels. It’s a range of choice, so there is no point in talking about variance. It isn’t a random variable. For the lowest C burning scenario IPCC got a drop of 0.14. I’m sure Rud used that scenario to get his figure of 0.15. There is no real discrepancy in the calculation.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 23, 2021 9:19 am

Ask Rud what he did, Nick.

Joao Martins
Reply to  Dave Fair
November 23, 2021 9:58 am

You cannot make such arithmetic calculations of variances with pH values, which are logarithms!!!! Your calculations, not Rud’s!!!!

Last edited 10 days ago by Joao Martins
Mr.
Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 22, 2021 5:57 pm

Nick, I don’t think that “acidification” means what you think it means.

Isn’t scientific discourse supposed to use correct terminology?

Question: Where does “alkalinity” become neutrality and cross over into “acidity”?

Answer: Only in IPCC propaganda.

Reply to  Mr.
November 22, 2021 6:57 pm

Do you have any authority that says it is incorrect?

I see that WUWT has tagged the paper as “ocean acidification”. It is the term Cohen and Happer use, although they don’t think it will cause harm.

Mr.
Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 22, 2021 7:23 pm

Nick I asked what YOU think about scientific discourse requiring correct terminology, not a deflection to what others have written.

?

(while pedantry might be one of my many flaws, my bullshit detector is constantly set at 11)

Reply to  Mr.
November 22, 2021 8:52 pm

I think it is correct terminology.

Mr.
Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 22, 2021 9:03 pm

So you want to reinvent the pH scale in order to comply with the narrative of “the cause” (as Michael Mann labeled his perfidy)?

bdgwx
Reply to  Mr.
November 23, 2021 6:10 am

The pH scale does not have to be reinvented for it to be possible for pH values to decline.

Mr.
Reply to  bdgwx
November 23, 2021 8:16 am

Yes we all know that, but while a sample tests as alkaline, and occasionally might register lower alkalinity, but shows no prospect of passing into an acidification range, to refer to such a situation it as “acidification” is pure conjecture.

“Lower alkalinity” would be a proper, HONEST description.

bdgwx
Reply to  Mr.
November 23, 2021 9:10 am

Neither are honest or dishonest. They are just words or phrases with the same definition. As long as they have the same definition they can be used interchangeably. Lowering of pH is not pure conjecture. That means neither “lowering of alkalinity” nor “acidification” is conjecture. That concept is happening regardless of what words are used to describe it.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 22, 2021 11:00 pm

It’s a completely incorrect neologism intended to add a political component to a fairly basic scientific concept. There is really no such thing. The term is clearly used by the authors so readers understand what the discussion is about.

I understand why ignorant true believers use the term. I just don’t know why anyone with a working knowledge of chemistry would or would defend its use.

https://wattsupwiththat.com/2018/06/05/the-total-myth-of-ocean-acidification/

Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  Rory Forbes
November 23, 2021 1:49 am

Just so! I have had numerous conversations with laypeople who know only the “science” that is promulgated by the MSM. Usually when I explain in language they understand, they realize just how blatantly they have been deceived.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Pamela Matlack-Klein
November 23, 2021 9:22 am

Usually when I explain in language they understand, they realize just how blatantly they have been deceived.

Yes, to some extent that’s true … when they’ll sit still long enough to hear you out, but non stop repetition for 40 years can embed anything in the brain. “Climate change” and its slightly more rational cousin (AGW) is now as entrenched as gravity.

Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  Rory Forbes
November 23, 2021 2:48 pm

Sorry, should have specified that I am talking about speaking with ordinary people not activists. I never bother trying to change the minds of the Griffs of the world, it’s just not worth talking to the true believers.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Pamela Matlack-Klein
November 23, 2021 3:04 pm

They just come across as thick and in many cases suffering from reading disorders. Even simple English seems beyond them.

Anthony Banton
Reply to  Rory Forbes
November 23, 2021 1:08 pm

It’s a completely incorrect neologism intended to add a political component to a fairly basic scientific concept. “

You see – that is entirely your interpretation (and the territory on most denizens of course) – as you see the science as politically motivated.
Whereas to scientists, science is, well, science, and therefore the direction of travel of reducing ph is “becoming more acidic”. Not that it IS acidic already but that it is travelling towards the acidic end.
It really is most amusing.

It’s akin to the woke mob who get offended (bless) because the wrong words are used.
They see aggression where none is intended.
You see politics where none is applicable.
Just common sense.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Anthony Banton
November 23, 2021 2:38 pm

Apart from your word salad, you people still aren’t providing any evidence. I provided evidence. I follow the science and you people only appear to follow the gastric emissions of your buddies.

What I find amusing is that you all have problems with English. No one is calling the science politically motivated. Science is neutral and has no motivation. Read the sentence again or find a translator.

Whereas to scientists, science is, well, science, and therefore the direction of travel of reducing ph is “becoming more acidic”.

Utter gibberish. Nothing is “traveling” anywhere. You can’t cause something to be “more” of a thing it never was. Besides, as many have already pointed out in this thread, trying to determine some ‘proper’ pH for the entire ocean is a fools errand. pH changes regionally, spatially and temporally for a long list of reasons.

Mr.
Reply to  Anthony Banton
November 24, 2021 10:03 am

Woke-ism, by its very nature, never has to be precise.

In fact, gobbledy- gook is de rigeur.

Science, however MUST use precise language, lest it begins to sound like woke gobbledy-gook.

An alkaline sample that presents as lowering alkalinity is just precisely that – lower alkalinity, not “acidification”.

Last edited 9 days ago by Mr.
bdgwx
Reply to  Mr.
November 24, 2021 1:24 pm

I agree that science should use precise wording to avoid unintended misinterpretation or confusion during discussions. I fail to see how “acidification” being defined as “decreasing pH” or “lowering pH” is imprecise though. It also has a long and well established history of use. Again, I’m not saying “lowering alkalinity” or “dealkalinization” or some other equivalent word or phrase is inappropriate. I’m just saying that “acidification” isn’t inappropriate either.

Last edited 9 days ago by bdgwx
Joao Martins
Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 23, 2021 10:07 am

Nick, maybe you think wrong in this case; or at least a bit one-sided. Please consider what I have commented to Tom Abott at November 23, 2021 9:50 am.

Phil.
Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 23, 2021 12:03 pm

It is, in chemistry one acidifies a solution by adding acid, it refers to the direction of the change not the final value. Hence one can acidify a pH 9 solution to pH 7.5 by adding hydrochloric acid.

Anthony Banton
Reply to  Phil.
November 23, 2021 1:09 pm

it refers to the direction of the change not the final value.”

Exactly !
As I say above.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Anthony Banton
November 23, 2021 3:08 pm

Exactly !

As I say above.

And you’re just as wrong here as you were above.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Phil.
November 23, 2021 3:07 pm

It is, in chemistry one acidifies a solution by adding acid,

No “one” doesn’t. I provided a link to the science … twice. You provide repeated nonsense, word salad and opinion.

Phil.
Reply to  Rory Forbes
November 23, 2021 6:15 pm

No I contributed the science, it’s not opinion. For example in writing instructions for a lab you might say ‘acidify the solution with 0.01M HCl until the indicator (Thymol Blue) changes from green to yellow (pH 8).’

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Phil.
November 23, 2021 7:06 pm

No I contributed the science

No, you offered your opinion and a fanciful example, pulled from some bodily orifice. I provided a link to an essay on the subject c/w actual citations.

Carbon500
Reply to  Phil.
November 24, 2021 5:05 am

Phil: as one who spent 26 years in medical laboratory science in the UK, I can state categorically that in the laboratories I worked in we would never have have said ‘acidify the solution with 0.01M HCl’ or write this in a method description.
The correct and unambiguous way is to say ‘adjust to pH8 using 0.01M HCl.’

Phil.
Reply to  Carbon500
November 25, 2021 9:27 am

Well in my time spent in Chemistry and Molecular Biology Labs I have encountered its use in the way I described.

bdgwx
Reply to  Phil.
November 25, 2021 12:39 pm

I’ve always understood it to mean a lowering of pH as well. Now I do accept that some uses of it are in the context of an actual change to an acidic state, but that requires a lowering of pH so even in those contexts it couldn’t be any more clear that we are talking a decrease in pH. And notice how the discussion has evolved. There is very little challenge to the fact that the pH of the ocean is declining. Instead the challenge is with the terminology being used to communicate that fact even though the terminology has been established and accepted by the scientific community for a very long time.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Mr.
November 22, 2021 7:07 pm

Stokes is well aware of the science, and like all good sophists, is more interested in winning the argument than divining the truth.

bdgwx
Reply to  Mr.
November 23, 2021 6:05 am

In this context “acidification” means pH is declining.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  bdgwx
November 23, 2021 6:58 am

Does this mean that if pH was increasing this would be termed deacidification?

bdgwx
Reply to  Dave Andrews
November 23, 2021 7:18 am

Maybe. Or perhaps basification.

Mr.
Reply to  bdgwx
November 23, 2021 8:08 am

So why not correctly refer to declining alkalinity as “Lower Alkalinity” until / unless the pH threshold into acidity is reached?

Oh I know – that terminology doesn’t invoke the scary scenario of acidified oceans, which we all know WILL NEVER HAPPEN.

bdgwx
Reply to  Mr.
November 23, 2021 9:03 am

We certainly could call it “lowering of alkalinity” or some other reasonable world or phrase. It doesn’t really matter what it is called as long as everyone understands the definition. The words we use to describe concepts are neither correct nor incorrect. They’re only used to facility and ease conversation.

I don’t associate “acidification” in way with a scary scenario. Lowering of pH isn’t “scary” to me anymore than raising pH would be. I also don’t think “acidification” is an unreasonable word choice either. As JohnC points out above the medical field adopted the world “acidosis” to describe essentially the same general concept…that of the lowering of pH…even though blood is typically alkaline like the ocean. I don’t think there is a lot of push back in the medical field.

Last edited 10 days ago by bdgwx
Rory Forbes
Reply to  bdgwx
November 23, 2021 9:38 am

The words we use to describe concepts are neither correct nor incorrect. They’re only used to facility and ease conversation.

How pathetically naive. As Orwell has pointed out numerous times, the precise meanings of words and their connotation is everything to the English language. That’s why socialists are working so hard to alter their meanings.

And as far as you not associating “acidification in way with a scary scenario”, you’re being disingenuous or just blind to the facts. The term was coined very recently to project a specific narrative. The whole point is to slip the word ‘acid’ into the mix so the public will associate it with acid rain.

bdgwx
Reply to  Rory Forbes
November 23, 2021 10:00 am

The word “acidification” has been used to describe the lowering of pH in literature for a very long time and long before anthropogenic acid rain became a concern.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  bdgwx
November 23, 2021 10:37 am

No, actually it has not. The term is a meaningless neologism coined by Ken Caldeira and Michael Wickett in 2003. The term “acid rain” was coined in 1872 by Robert Angus Smith. It came into general use in the mid 1960s. Do try to pay attention and read the following article. You might actually learn something useful.

https://wattsupwiththat.com/2018/06/05/the-total-myth-of-ocean-acidification/

Phil.
Reply to  Rory Forbes
November 23, 2021 12:14 pm

The term ‘acidification’ has been in use for ~200 years.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Phil.
November 23, 2021 12:47 pm

Did you follow the link I provided? Of course not. I notice you offered no evidence to support your claim.

Phil.
Reply to  Rory Forbes
November 23, 2021 6:01 pm

Yes I did look at it.
Check https://educalingo.com/en/dic-en/acidification
Scroll down to the graph showing frequency of use.

bdgwx
Reply to  Rory Forbes
November 23, 2021 1:36 pm

Yes it actually has. First, Caldeira and Wickett were not the first to use the term “acidification” to describe the lowering of pH in the ocean. A quick academic journal search could have easily been done to fact check that claim. Second, the term “acidification” has been in use since at least the late 1700’s which predates 1872 by at least many decades and predates any contemporary anthropogenic acid rain reference by over a century…easily. It’s the same erroneous argument contrarians use when they say “global warming” was changed to “climate change” even though the first use of “climate change” (in the late 1800’s) actually predates “global warming” nevermind that they mean different things anyway.

Last edited 10 days ago by bdgwx
Rory Forbes
Reply to  bdgwx
November 23, 2021 2:20 pm

You’re still wrong. Just because you keep repeating the same thing over and over doesn’t change the facts. Provide the proof or STFU.

bdgwx
Reply to  Rory Forbes
November 23, 2021 6:02 pm

William Nicholson used the term “acidification” several times in The First Principles of Chemistry in 1790. There could be earlier references…I don’t know. And a quick Google Scholar search shows that “acidification” was used prolifically prior to 1872 with several of the uses being the general case of a lowering of pH even for substances that weren’t actually acids similar to the context in which is used for the carbon uptake by the ocean today. And my point here isn’t that “acidification” is the best term, but only that it is a reasonable term that has had widespread adoption by the scientific community for a very long time so the sudden fear and offense expressed by contrarians does not seem unwarranted IMHO.

Last edited 9 days ago by bdgwx
Joao Martins
Reply to  Mr.
November 23, 2021 10:13 am

So why not correctly refer to declining alkalinity as “Lower Alkalinity” until / unless the pH threshold into acidity is reached?

This is also what I think. It would be less confusing and less scaring. And would also contribute to transmit those concepts to lay persons with more accuracy.

Joao Martins
Reply to  Mr.
November 23, 2021 10:04 am

Please see my comment to Tom Abott at November 23, 2021 9:50 am. That is a very good question, and very often its problems and limits are clearly ignored in many, many peer-reviewed scientific publications. To be exact, we must chose the words very carefuly when writing a scientific article.

BobM
Reply to  Nick Stokes
December 1, 2021 6:30 pm

Nick,
Nowhere does SPM pg. 14 tell politicians who don’t understand what pH means in the first place, that the oceans are BASIC/ALKALINE, not acidic, nor that “SRES scenarios give reductions in average global surface ocean pH” of 8.2 – 8.05, still alkaline 80 years from now. They leave the actual pH out of the entire narrative where someone with a brain might pick up on that fact and wonder what’s going on. This lying by omission to those that don’t know any better. It is explaining without imparting understanding, unfortunately, par for the course.

H. D. Hoese
November 22, 2021 3:33 pm

Borges, A. V. and N. Gypens. 2010. Carbonate chemistry in the coastal zone responds more strongly to eutrophication than to ocean acidification. Limnology and Oceanography. 55(1):346-353.   https://doi.org/10.4319/lo.2010.55.1.0346    Open Access

If you really want to have fun with pH get down in the mud. Fish live in waters with a range of pH between 4 and 10, but of course does get rough near the extremes. Davenport, J. and M. D. J. Sayer. 1993. Physiological determinants of distribution in fish. Journal of Fish Biology. 43(sA):121-145.      https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1095-8649.1993.tb01183.x

high treason
November 22, 2021 5:23 pm

The blindingly obvious point is that there is 48 times more CO2 dissolved in the oceans than in the atmosphere. Doubling atmospheric CO2 , even if all the excess found itself being dissolved in to the oceans will make almost no difference to ocean pH. With a doubling of total oceanic CO2 would come a .4 pH point lowering of pH-from 8 to 7.6 -still basic) However, to double the amount of CO2 in the oceans, since this is where the bulk is, would require a 48 fold increase in atmospheric CO2 from 420ppm to 20,0000 ppm. BS meter exploding yet? To get to acidity, even with totally ignoring bufferring from basalts in particular, would require combining around 1/4 of all the oxygen in the entire atmosphere with carbon (probably isn’t that actual amount on the entire planet.)

I’m calling this one. I am demanding a replacement BS meter. The ocean acidification scare tactic has dissolved my poor BS meter in to sludge just before it exploded.

“Those that can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities”- Voltaire.

NavarreAggie
November 22, 2021 5:29 pm

Sulfate is not SO2 :/ It’s SO4 with a charge of negative 2 (SO4^-2).

Reply to  NavarreAggie
November 22, 2021 6:00 pm

SO₄⁻⁻

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 22, 2021 7:12 pm
Scissor
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
November 22, 2021 7:47 pm

I’ve seen the notation used by NS before (- – is -2). I’ve also seen =. I think they date back to early typewriting. Funny, the text editor is changing dash dash to a single long dash.

Anyway, I prefer -2 also, but his notation is a correct alternative.

Your cute video called it an organic compound. Oh my.

I like sulfate, took a bath with sulfate (magnesium) just this evening. SO2, I don’t like so much as it makes me wheeze.

Last edited 10 days ago by Scissor
Reply to  Scissor
November 22, 2021 8:50 pm

Yes, there are 2 superfix minus signs there. The site here runs them together.

The way they taught me that was the rhyme
Little Willie now is dead
Little Willie is no more
For what he thought was H₂O
Was H₂SO₄.

Scissor
Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 23, 2021 3:31 am

This riddle works phonetically, what is H 2 O 4?

Drinking.

Joao Martins
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
November 23, 2021 10:22 am

You are right but Nick is not wrong.

It used to be two upperscript minus signs, either aligned of superposed; just as the plus signs for cations. The symbology was altered because at higher valence it becomes typographically awkward.

But that change in symbology created an ambiguity: actually, it does not mean “power -2”, it means doubling of the negative charge. The resemblance of this symbology to the algebraic can induce people in error. Anyhow, it is a convention, and people who study chemistry learn it.

November 22, 2021 6:08 pm

It seems like every position today hinges on the abuse or misuse of language. At the very “basic” level of any discussion you must first define the terms used to frame the argument. If any real ocean could become more acidic* it would have become less caustic! Sadly, because we all now live in an Idiocracy, morons believe acidic and caustic are the same thing! ;-(

*a.k.a. more neutral!

Mr.
Reply to  Scott Wilmot Bennett
November 22, 2021 7:32 pm

Yes, proper scientific terminology does not fit “the narrative”, so weasel words are used instead.

November 23, 2021 12:38 am

I have collected a number of samples of the Indian ocean over the past 6 years, every year I went for a holiday. The idea was trying to establish a trend for the alkalinity of the water over time. I have not yet analysed them. It would be interesting to see if there is any trend. The relevant reactions are:

CO2 (g) + 2H2O + cold in equilibrium with HCO3- + H3O+ (1) (dissolved) @ North and South Pole areas
However, due to heat, the opposite happens around the equator:
HCO3- + UV/heat in equilibrium with CO2 (g) + OH- (2)

(1) + (2) are ruled by Henry’s Law (= pressure and temperature related). The equilibria also depend on the pH.

There is a strong increase in heat coming somewhere from the bottom of the arctic ocean which causes the sink area to decrease there (ask me for reference). That causes less CO2 to be dissolved by reaction (1). Naturally. That is probably the biggest reason for the continuing increase of CO2 in the atmosphere.

However, assuming more CO2 is dissolved due to man’s influence. That would mean more of reaction (1) and a decrease in alkalinity. However, I also want to say that the waste water of 7 billion people and even more animals, and the waste from most factories, is slightly acidic. That also forces reaction (1) to the left, i.e. more CO2 in the atmosphere.
[not that I think that that is bad thing]

Then there is another thing. The HCO3- is in equilibrium with CO3 (-2). So more HCO3- would also mean more CO3 (-2). There is a great abundance of Mg and Ca from all kinds of sources. The Mg and Ca ions are in equilibrium with CO3 (2-) forming the insoluble salts.

So, the net reaction in the oceans caused by more CO2 and more acid from our waste is probably nothing. There is a reaction for every action made by man. However, to prove this we need a times series showing an analysis as envisaged by me where samples from the same place are analyzed for alkalinity every month or year for a number of years. Does this already exist? Please show me!

Does anyone have the correct method for me for testing the alkalinity?

Reply to  HenryP
November 23, 2021 1:05 am

Note my comment here, if you want a reference for the warming of the arctic ocean:
https://wattsupwiththat.com/2021/11/20/warmer-where-its-colder/#comment-3393427

Reply to  HenryP
November 23, 2021 1:08 am

Does anyone have the correct method for me for testing the alkalinity?

That should be:

Does anyone have the correct method for me for testing the alkalinity of seawater?

Aleksandr Zhitomirskiy
Reply to  HenryP
November 23, 2021 8:47 am

Measuring pH (potentiometric or spectrophotometric) allows you to determine both alkalinity and acidity. Alkalinity pOH = 14 – pH. Is that what you mean?

Reply to  HenryP
November 23, 2021 3:47 pm

What they are incorrectly referring to is Total Alkalinity. That is defined as the amount of acid required to bring it to pH about 4.6, probably using methyl orange as indicator. The point is that at that pH the carbonates are totally converted to CO2.

And that titration is how it is done.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
November 23, 2021 9:24 pm

In light of my reasoning I think we should be measuring total alkalinity.

kzb
Reply to  HenryP
November 23, 2021 3:16 am

One thing I CAN tell you is, measuring the pH of 6-year-old samples is pointless !

Reply to  kzb
November 23, 2021 3:59 am

The samples have been well preserved in the dark. Anyway, I was thinking about using a wet chemical method to determine the alkalinity.

Phil.
Reply to  HenryP
November 28, 2021 11:57 am

The HCO3- is in equilibrium with CO3 (-2). So more HCO3- would also mean more CO3 (-2).”
No because the equilibrium also depends on H+ so as pH decreases you get more HCO3- and CO2 compared with CO3–

Here’s the Bjerrum plot indicating the equilibrium in salt water:
600px-Carbonate_system_of_seawater.svg.png

Duane
November 23, 2021 5:02 am

There are really two levels of chemistry-based understanding that have to be accounted for in the fake “ocean acidification” argument that reveals just how stupid and ignorant are the science deniers of the warmunist movement:

Physical chemistry – the arguments concerning dissolved salts and the very large buffering capacity of oceanic waters that resists changes of pH with additions of acids like carbonic acid.

Biochemistry – the arguments concerning the stable state resistance in oceans in the concentration of carbon due to carbon uptake in plants and animals, particularly animals like shellfish, that results in moving masses of carbon from dissolved state in seawater to solid state in the shells of sealife. Which by the way is why and how we have vast deposits of limestone in the Earth’s crust – that is nature’s way of sequestering excess carbon. The limestone, when exposed to rain and wind, then weathers into sand and silt which eventually ends up back in the oceans, while the creatures that create the limestone also are consumed by other creatures.

The end result is a highly stabilized geo/biochemistry of the world’s oceans.

richard
November 23, 2021 5:30 am

“Table 3 shows the different range of pH some countries are implementing. Generally, all countries use an average range of between 5.0 and 9.0 in freshwater, and 6.5 and 9.0 for marine, all of which are within the limits of optimum fish production” Some countries it is between 6.0- 9.0.

http://www.aquaculture.asia/files/PMNQ%20WQ%20standard%202.pdf

bluecat57
November 23, 2021 5:31 am

It is unmeasurable beyond the gallon in your test jug. The vastness of the oceans make any generalization laughable.

eyesonu
November 23, 2021 9:11 am

This was a very informative posting as well as excellent commentary.

All of us readers are/were not particularly interested in college chemistry back in the day! Condensed yet somewhat technical explanations help poor plebs like myself!

Stephen Skinner
November 23, 2021 11:20 am

I emailed someone at NASA about the pH scale and received back a table that included the opposite side, pOH. I translated into a table as follows. Does it look correct?
(unable to attach image or delete post)

Last edited 10 days ago by Stephen Skinner
Stephen Skinner
Reply to  Stephen Skinner
November 23, 2021 12:21 pm

Another attempt

pH and pOH.jpg
Phil.
Reply to  Stephen Skinner
November 25, 2021 9:14 am

Yes pH+pOH=14

spock
November 25, 2021 8:48 pm

Please read these books, the two best books debunking climate change crap. Click the links to download a free copy. Please share with your family and friends.

The moral case for fossil fuels
http://library.lol/main/95AC3FC1E1D3768A2FF58A9556284B4E

Fake Invisible Catastrophes and Threats of Doom
http://library.lol/main/62F19352A7FD8FA7830C90D187094289

Jim
November 26, 2021 7:57 am

CO2 has no more ability to turn the oceans acidic than it does to cause GLOBAL heating.

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