EnvironmentPollutionWater Pollution

What Are the Causes of Ocean Acidification?

Reasons for ocean acidification

Introduction to Ocean Acidification Causes:

When the concentration of carbon dioxide increases in the ocean water, it results in ocean acidification. Ocean acidification is also an environmental issue that is growing bigger day by day. The excessive release of carbon dioxide gas in the atmosphere was started during the industrial revolution.


The CO2 is getting released at an alarming rate in the atmosphere due to various human activities such as the burning of fuels, agricultural activities, deforestation, cement manufacturing, etc. When this carbon dioxide entered into the oceanic water, the pH level of the ocean gets disturbed, which affects the marine ecosystem.

Oceans have to maintain a particular level of pH, which is required for a healthy ocean ecosystem and the flora & fauna living in this ecosystem.

A massive amount of carbon dioxide is releasing every day in the atmosphere, but not all of it stays in the atmosphere. The oceans absorb approximately more than a quarter of CO2 released.

When the oceanic water takes a high level of CO2, then it becomes acidic. Absorption of carbon dioxide is not the only reason that acidifies the ocean water; there are various causes of ocean acidification. You can go through this page to know more about it.

What Causes Ocean Acidification?

Plastic bottles polluting the sea.

Excessive concentration of carbon dioxide in the Ocean

Carbon dioxide gas is not only affecting the air but also creating problems for the oceanic ecosystem. The higher concentration of carbon dioxide is one of the major reasons of ocean acidification. When the amount of carbon dioxide becomes more elevated in the ocean, it starts decreasing the quality of the water.

Due to the increasing level of it in the water, the innocent sea animal starts dying. The dead bodies of these sea organisms’ piles-up forming the corals. These corals contain carbon and also release calcium. The release of carbon and calcium from corals increases acidity in seawater.

The raised concentration of hydrogen ions in the ocean

Some natural chemical reactions take place underwater, causing adverse effects on the quality of water. These chemical reactions may increase the level of hydrogen ions in the ocean water. When these hydrogen ions, combined with other compounds present in ocean water, such as nitrogen, leads to one of the causes of ocean acidification.

Reduction of carbonated ions

When the increased hydrogen ions in the ocean water contact with carbonate, they form bicarbonate, which reduces the number of carbonates in the seawater. Industrialization is one of the main reasons for decreasing the carbonate ions in the ocean.

The sea organisms (such as corals, echinoderms, mollusks, calcareous algae, and many other shelled creatures) find it more challenging to form calcium carbonate due to loss of carbonate ions in water.

The worst condition comes when carbonate level decreases too much; then, the already formed calcium carbonate starts dissolving. At this stage, the oceanic creatures find it tougher to make new shells and even maintaining the one they have already own.

The increased level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere

The level of carbon dioxide is quite higher due to the greenhouse effect. Sometimes the atmospheric carbon dioxide also acidifies the seawater by spreading into the water. This happened when the carbon dioxide emitted in the air by different human activities. When this carbon dioxide dissolves in the seawater, it decreases the pH level of the water, causing acidification of the ocean.

Combustion of fossil fuels

Fossil fuel plays a vital role in spoiling the environment. As far as the causes of ocean acidification are concerned, fossil fuel may not harm the ocean water directly but contaminates the water indirectly. 

Burning fossil fuels such as coal, petroleum, etc. release a large amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This carbon dioxide gets entry into oceanic water through acidic rain or sometimes through direct modes. This increases the acidity of ocean water, which is very harmful to the ecology of ocean water.

Manufacturing of cement

Cement manufacturing releases a huge amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This carbon dioxide finds its way to enter into ocean water in the form of acid rain. Sometimes, the carbon gets a direct entry into the ocean while disposing of the waste from cement manufacturing industries.

Also read: Eco-friendly Green Building Materials

Due to the increased level of carbon in oceanic water, it diminishes the quality of water, making it an unhealthy place for flora and fauna of the water ecosystem.

Disposal of waste in the oceans

Mostly, people found water as an easy ground to dispose of waste, especially the countries adjacent to oceans. They dump their domestic and industrial waste into ocean water, whether it is in liquid form or solid form.

The waste disposal directly affects the pH level of ocean water, causing ocean acidification. Not only domestic and industrial waste contributes to ocean acidification, but sewage disposal and agricultural waste disposal also contribute to increasing the acidity of the ocean water.

Recommended Read: 3 Rs of environment – waste management

The growing rate of industrialization

Industrialization is a big problem for the environment. The industrialization has always been a reason for pollution, whether it is air pollution, land pollution, or water pollution.

Various industries are running across the world, release different harmful gases in the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, etc. Later on, these gases get entry into ocean water in the form of acid rain increasing the acidity of ocean water. 

The growing rate of deforestation

Deforestation is a well know environmental issue in the world for various reasons such as the increase of pollution, loss of biodiversity, loss of natural habitats, etc. Apart from all this, deforestation is also responsible for carbon dioxide emissions.

As we all know that trees help in storing carbon dioxide by absorbing it from the atmosphere. Unfortunately, the loss of trees is reducing the storage of carbon dioxide.

Poor land management

Agricultural activities mostly contribute to creating acidic problems in ocean water. In modern agricultural activities, people are prone to use various fertilizers and pesticides. The chemicals present in these fertilizers and pesticides get an entry into the ocean with rainwater and soil erosion. When these chemicals dissolve in ocean water reduces the quality of water by acidifying it.   

Loss of biodiversity

The plants and animals living together in a suitable habitat make biodiversity. Similarly, ocean organisms, including all plants and animals, together make marine biodiversity. The quality of water, the pH level of water, the number of minerals, and other essential compounds, etc. play their role in making ocean biodiversity a healthy place to live.

Unfortunately, from the past few years, the quality of ocean water is decreasing day by day, making it an unhealthy place for living water organisms. The entire ocean biodiversity is being affected by the acidification of the ocean. 

The reason could be anything but the sad part is that the ocean biodiversity is getting affected badly by ocean acidification.


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