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How does C02 make the seas acidic?

Stewie
Grafter
Posts: 60
Registered: 09-06-2008

How does C02 make the seas acidic?

Todays news says carbon dioxide makes seas more acidic.
e.g.  http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3971307.stm  (find "acidic")
Acidity (pH ) is the presence of Hydrogen ions, but C02 has no hydrogen ions in it.
So how does adding C02 make the seas more acidic?
I wish they'd suggest the basic chemistry rather than just have us take their word for it. Huh
11 REPLIES
Euge
Grafter
Posts: 502
Registered: 11-10-2007

Re: How does C02 make the seas acidic?

Yeah but the sea contains H2O and combined with CO2, that makes carbonic acid which is a weak acid and also something to do with how acid rain is formed. But there are other chemicals in rain and therefore the sea.
Stewie
Grafter
Posts: 60
Registered: 09-06-2008

Re: How does C02 make the seas acidic?

Thanks - Now you've named carbonic acid Wiki did the rest  Wink
Community Veteran
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Registered: 30-08-2007

Re: How does C02 make the seas acidic?

Interesting point. If you've ever kept tropical fish of the Marine type, you will know that they are incredibly sensitive to Ph values in their water, maintaining this correctly is a major problem for hobbyists. However I'm not sure I've seen any reports that the supply of Marine fish is drying up (sorry!!) due to changing Ph levels in their natural habitats.
Experience; is something you gain, just after you needed it most.

When faced with two choices, simply toss a coin. It works not because it settles the question for you. But because in that brief moment while the coin is in the air. You suddenly know what you are hoping for.
Stewie
Grafter
Posts: 60
Registered: 09-06-2008

Re: How does C02 make the seas acidic?

The BBC reports I heard were also saying - not just suggesting - that the CO2 is acidic. Cheesy
Contaminated maybe.
pierre_pierre
Grafter
Posts: 19,757
Registered: 30-07-2007

Re: How does C02 make the seas acidic?

and the gas didnt come from the atmosphere, it was from volcanic plumes
Community Veteran
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Registered: 02-02-2008

Re: How does C02 make the seas acidic?

Journalists aren't strong on technical or scientific explanations, but the comment above is correct - once carbon dioxide is dissolved in seawater it inceases the acidity.
Community Veteran
Posts: 3,789
Registered: 08-06-2007

Re: How does C02 make the seas acidic?

It's an interesting chemical point Smiley
CO2 + H2O ⇌ H2CO3, which is carbonic acid.
Carbonic acid is actually a really weak acid, (and it's not the only compound to be created when CO2 is dissolved in H2O), and apparently it has contributed to a -0.075pH change since the 1700s
Excellent wikipedia article here
B.
Community Veteran
Posts: 3,364
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Registered: 06-04-2007

Re: How does C02 make the seas acidic?

Quote from: Barry
Carbonic acid is actually a really weak acid ...

Which I guess any coral type of organism is not going to like very much. Sad
SW.
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Euge
Grafter
Posts: 502
Registered: 11-10-2007

Re: How does C02 make the seas acidic?

I think you can give up the idea of saving the coral expecially around australia, it's pretty much already dead  Cry
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Re: How does C02 make the seas acidic?

Quote from: Euge
I think you can give up the idea of saving the coral expecially around australia, it's pretty much already dead  Cry

Yes, but not due to chemical changes, more to do with millions of tourists damaging it. Hasn't there been some kind of move to have the reefs declared a no-go area for tourists recently? thought I read that somewhere.
Experience; is something you gain, just after you needed it most.

When faced with two choices, simply toss a coin. It works not because it settles the question for you. But because in that brief moment while the coin is in the air. You suddenly know what you are hoping for.
Denzil
Grafter
Posts: 1,733
Registered: 31-07-2007

Re: How does C02 make the seas acidic?

Quote from: Stewie
The BBC reports I heard were also saying - not just suggesting - that the C02 is acidic. Cheesy

CO2 <pedantic>subcript, not superscript</pedantic> itself cannot be acidic. Whether something is acid or alkaline depends on the number of active hydrogen ions in solution. As CO2 has no hydrogen, acidity is meaningless. It only becomes acidic when dissolved in water to form carbonic acid.