Explained: Ocean Acidification
This week school groups started up again at the Vancouver Aquarium and for the Cnidarian station I took the kids over to the coral exhibit. I told them about how sensitive corals are to their environment, and changes, including ocean acidification are causing them to die off in coral bleaching events.
Ocean acidification was a key topic throughout my undergrad degree. We were told the chemical reaction that occurs between CO2 and the ocean that creates acid. Quickly I forgot the formula and “acidification” became the stock answer I gave whenever a prof asked what effects humans have on the oceans.
Now that I am teaching kids who haven’t taken Organic Chem, I struggle to find a way to explain it to the grade 11 and 12 students in a way that makes sense.
Today I stumbled upon this analogy via a twitter post from @theoceanproject
Imagine you are filling buckets to build a sand castle on the shore. Then someone begins to remove the sand from your buckets faster than you can add to your castle. Then you realize that the waves are beginning to lap at your castle. You are trying to build your castle, but someone is taking away your building material, while another force erodes your creation capacity.
This article also reminded me that Carbonic Acid is what forms when high CO2 concentrations and ocean water meet.
This week when I’m talking to school groups I’m going to challenge myself to stay focused on Acidification and its impact on the groups of animals we look at: Molluscs, Echinoderms, Arthropods, and Cnidarians.