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Harvard
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Life Sciences
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English (U.S.)
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Topic:

Global Warming. Vulnerability of Marine Life to Ocean Acidification (Essay Sample)

Instructions:

Write an essay of 750–1000 words on a topic related to vulnerability of human or natural systems.
Selected topic: Ocean acidification and the potential impacts on shell forming organisms

source..
Content:


VULNERABILITY OF MARINE LIFE TO OCEAN ACIDIFICATION
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Vulnerability of Marine Life to Ocean Acidification
Ocean acidification is a problem that has been detected in the last few years. It is caused by increased carbon dioxide in the air, which makes some of the gas to dissolve in the oceans. The presence of dissolved carbon dioxide results in a reduction in the ocean water's pH level due to the formation of bicarbonate as well as carbonic acid. Additionally, the process also increases hydrogen ions in the water to a greater level than the available carbonate ions. The presence of such ions creates room for reactions that cause a reduction in minerals that are vital to marine animals for their survival. In addition, the reactions can cause harm to various organisms in the ocean. While ocean acidification's overall effect is unknown, the little information that has currently been gathered indicates that marine life is vulnerable, and it will be negatively affected.
For instance, acidic oceans impact different shell-forming organisms. Pteropods, shellfish, and corals are some of the most affected organisms by ocean acidification. Pteropods are tiny organisms that are usually consumed by various other animals in the ocean (Bednaršek et al. 2016). Some have a shell that is made of calcium carbonate through the process of calcification. However, the presence of more hydrogen ions in the ocean due to acidification reduces the carbonate ions required to form calcium carbonate. Most of the carbonate ions combine with the hydrogen leaving less available for calcification. The result is the formation of little shells, which impacts the organisms' size or sensitive shells that affect the safety of the pteropods (Gardner et al. 2018). The impact of these changes is unknown because several organisms in the ocean consume pteropods. These changes likely impact the food chain negatively because they cause a reduction in the food supply.

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