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Ocean Acidification Claims are Misleading – and deliberately so

Written by Ross McLeod, PSI Researcher

Chemistry debunks junk climate science in the ‘global warming causes ocean acidification’ debate. Established Chemistry proves that if temperatures were rising then, conversely, acidification would be falling, not increasing. Such is the woeful science ignorance (or intentional deceit) of climate alarmists. 

ACID TEST

Indisputable facts

  • carbon dioxide (CO2), dissolved in pure water, makes a weak, unstable acid, whilst the ocean water is a very stable buffer with a pH averaging around 8, which means it is alkaline;

  • there isn’t enough CO2 in the atmosphere to make much difference to the ocean’s pH;

  • the concentration of enough CO2 to significantly reduce the ocean’s pH will not come from the atmosphere;

  • the mass of the oceans is a huge 268 times the mass of the atmosphere;

  • CO2 is currently only 0.04% of that atmosphere.

  • Discussion about those facts

    Besides the above chemical and physical facts, it is well known that an increase in water temperature will reduce the solubility of CO2.

    Leave any opened cold carbonated drink – from champagne to Coke – to warm up and see what happens to the fizz, which is CO2 in case you didn’t know. Your warmed champagne/Coke goes ‘flat’ because the carbon dioxide has escaped the liquid and entered the atmosphere.

    It is therefore not rocket science to state with complete confidence that warm water naturally contains less CO2 than cold water.

    The oceans are outgassing CO2 due to the slight warming trend since the end of the Mini Ice Age (c. 1850’s). The exact cause of this trend IS NOT known and remains the subject of much scientific debate! There is evidence that there is a gap of many centuries between planet-wide temperature swings and atmospheric CO2 concentrations.


    The Climate Alarmist’s Case

    Climate alarmists are stunningly contradictory and actually amusing if they didn’t hold the world at ransom over this non-problem of a slight increase in CO2 concentrations.

  • They point out the slight increasing trend in temperatures as alarming!

  • They point out the side effect of this slight increasing trend in temperatures – rising sea levels – as alarming!

  • Then they claim man’s CO2 emissions will increase ocean acidification – as alarming!

  • But you simply cannot have it both ways – that is an “Inconvenient Truth”!

    Summary and Conclusion

  • Either the oceans are getting warmer and the CO2 concentration in seawater is decreasing, which means that ocean acidification from man-made CO2 from the atmosphere is nonsense.

  • Or the oceans are getting cooler and the man-made CO2 from the atmosphere is dissolving in those cooler oceans and causing – insignificant – ocean acidification, which means that warming oceans and the associated sea level rises are nonsense.

  • Take your pick – REAL SCIENCE says you can’t have both.

     Further reading on this subject may be found here:

    http://carbon-sense.com/2012/05/13/acid-ocean-bogeyman/

    http://carbon-sense.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/acid-ocean-bogeyman.pdf

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    Comments (22)

    • Avatar

      David Appell

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      “My suggestion is to stop the rivers emptying into the ocean….”

      The ocean’s volume is about 10^18 m^3.

      The flow of freshwater rivers into the ocean is about 1 Sverdrup (= 10^6 m^3/s).

      So it would take about a trillion seconds for the rivers to overturn the ocean, or about 32,000 years.

      That’s never happened, because of course, there’s a reason water becomes saline when it’s in the ocean.

      Reply

    • Avatar

      David Appell

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      >> Should that pH 7 infusion not worry our climaatolgoists?

      Reply

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      David Appell

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      Geert: Your calculation is wrong. It’s done correctly here:

      http://davidappell.blogspot.com/2012/07/yes-ocean-acidity-has-increased-by-30.html

      ractional change in activity = 10^0.1 – 1 = 0.26 = 26%

      [quote name=”Geert F de Vries”]My calculation says that 0.1 pH points lower means 20.57% “more acidic”, not 30%.
      Namely 10^8.1 / 10^8.0 = 0.7943 = 1 – 0.2057.
      So much for accuracy of the warmists.
      (this holds for any 0.1 drop in the exponent).

      The oceans’ pH variation caused by river outlets and gletchers sliding off Greenland and Antarctica with a pH of 7.0 goes all the way to 8.6 somewhere, so as to have the ocean-wide avg of 8.1. Should that pH 7 infusion not worry our climastrologists ? It really is a lot more acid w.r.t. the average 8.1 than the CO2-infested water at 8.0.

      My suggestion is to stop the rivers emptying into the ocean and building catchment reservoirs instead (use them to irrigate the deserts and drought places like California), and we have to think of a plan to isolate the icebergs in a special corner of this earth. Lake Chad comes to mind.[/quote]

      Reply

    • Avatar

      Geert F de Vries

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      My calculation says that 0.1 pH points lower means 20.57% “more acidic”, not 30%.
      Namely 10^8.1 / 10^8.0 = 0.7943 = 1 – 0.2057.
      So much for accuracy of the warmists.
      (this holds for any 0.1 drop in the exponent).

      The oceans’ pH variation caused by river outlets and gletchers sliding off Greenland and Antarctica with a pH of 7.0 goes all the way to 8.6 somewhere, so as to have the ocean-wide avg of 8.1. Should that pH 7 infusion not worry our climastrologists ? It really is a lot more acid w.r.t. the average 8.1 than the CO2-infested water at 8.0.

      My suggestion is to stop the rivers emptying into the ocean and building catchment reservoirs instead (use them to irrigate the deserts and drought places like California), and we have to think of a plan to isolate the icebergs in a special corner of this earth. Lake Chad comes to mind.

      Reply

    • Avatar

      David Appell

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      The 30% number is used because it’s scientifially accurate.

      The National Academy of Sciences has its own report on ocean acidification, published in 2010. But I’m sure you know much, much more than all the educated professionals who study the subject day-in and day-out. Do you have any journal papers on the subject I can read?

      [quote name=”DennisA”]The “30% increase in acidity” mantra is repeated ad infinitum. The origin of it is described here: [url]http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/originals/acid_seas.html[/url] and goes back to IPCC AR4.

      AR4 WG1
      [quote]”A decrease in surface pH of 0.1 over the global ocean was calculated from the estimated uptake of anthropogenic carbon between 1750 and 1994 (Sabine et al., 2004b; Raven et al., 2005)

      The mean pH of surface waters ranges between 7.9 and 8.3 in the open ocean, so the ocean remains alkaline (pH > 7) even after these decreases.

      The consequences of changes in pH on marine organisms are poorly known (see Section 7.3.4 and Box 7.3). For comparison, pH was higher by 0.1 unit during glaciations, and there is no evidence of pH values more than 0.6 units below the pre-industrial pH during the past 300 million years (Caldeira and Wickett, 2003)

      A decrease in ocean pH of 0.1 units corresponds to a 30% increase in the concentration of H+ in seawater, assuming that alkalinity and temperature remain constant.”[/quote]

      Hence we get the claim that “the ocean” has become “30% more acidic” since the start of the industrial revolution.

      So the basis of all the hype is a calculation from an estimate, which gives a very precise figure of 0.1pH decrease, they don’t even know the consequences of changes in pH and 0.1 is well within the range of variation quoted in AR4.

      Once the scare had been introduced, it grew legs and had to be nourished and in 2005, the Royal Society published a report entitled, “Ocean acidification due to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide.”

      The members of the committee producing that report included one Dr. Ken Caldeira, of Stanford, at that time at Lawrence Livermore laboratory. He was accompanied by scientists from the University of East Anglia (UEA), Southampton University and Plymouth Marine Laboratory, both the latter institutions are part of the UK Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, based at UEA and the main body in the UK promoting draconian emissions control on behalf of the UK government.

      The Royal Society produced a cut and paste updated report in 2007, and again in 2009, with the same panellists. Thus is consensus achieved and acidification of the oceans is now “fact”, the science is settled. Who would question the wise science from an august and venerable body such as this?[/quote]

      Reply

    • Avatar

      DennisA

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      The “30% increase in acidity” mantra is repeated ad infinitum. The origin of it is described here: [url]http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/originals/acid_seas.html[/url] and goes back to IPCC AR4.

      AR4 WG1
      [quote]”A decrease in surface pH of 0.1 over the global ocean was calculated from the estimated uptake of anthropogenic carbon between 1750 and 1994 (Sabine et al., 2004b; Raven et al., 2005)

      The mean pH of surface waters ranges between 7.9 and 8.3 in the open ocean, so the ocean remains alkaline (pH > 7) even after these decreases.

      The consequences of changes in pH on marine organisms are poorly known (see Section 7.3.4 and Box 7.3). For comparison, pH was higher by 0.1 unit during glaciations, and there is no evidence of pH values more than 0.6 units below the pre-industrial pH during the past 300 million years (Caldeira and Wickett, 2003)

      A decrease in ocean pH of 0.1 units corresponds to a 30% increase in the concentration of H+ in seawater, assuming that alkalinity and temperature remain constant.”[/quote]

      Hence we get the claim that “the ocean” has become “30% more acidic” since the start of the industrial revolution.

      So the basis of all the hype is a calculation from an estimate, which gives a very precise figure of 0.1pH decrease, they don’t even know the consequences of changes in pH and 0.1 is well within the range of variation quoted in AR4.

      Once the scare had been introduced, it grew legs and had to be nourished and in 2005, the Royal Society published a report entitled, “Ocean acidification due to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide.”

      The members of the committee producing that report included one Dr. Ken Caldeira, of Stanford, at that time at Lawrence Livermore laboratory. He was accompanied by scientists from the University of East Anglia (UEA), Southampton University and Plymouth Marine Laboratory, both the latter institutions are part of the UK Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, based at UEA and the main body in the UK promoting draconian emissions control on behalf of the UK government.

      The Royal Society produced a cut and paste updated report in 2007, and again in 2009, with the same panellists. Thus is consensus achieved and acidification of the oceans is now “fact”, the science is settled. Who would question the wise science from an august and venerable body such as this?

      Reply

    • Avatar

      Pat Obar

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      [quote name=”David Appell”][quote name=”Miner49er”]Do you mean “decrease”? An “increase” means the solution has become more alkaline. And yes, there IS a difference–an alkaline solution cannot dissolve aragonite and other carbonates.[/quote]

      No, I meant increase — the ocean’s acidity has increased by 30%. It has become more acidic. Less alkaline.

      It’s not a matter of what it reacts with, it’s a matter of what the activity of its hydrogen ions is.[/quote]

      David,
      Please give it up! You are spouting only a completely falsified fantasy! You have not even a conjecture of what may be in this physical.

      -pat-

      Reply

    • Avatar

      David Appell

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      [quote name=”Miner49er”]Do you mean “decrease”? An “increase” means the solution has become more alkaline. And yes, there IS a difference–an alkaline solution cannot dissolve aragonite and other carbonates.[/quote]

      No, I meant increase — the ocean’s acidity has increased by 30%. It has become more acidic. Less alkaline.

      It’s not a matter of what it reacts with, it’s a matter of what the activity of its hydrogen ions is.

      Reply

    • Avatar

      Miner49er

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      [quote name=”David Appell”]All chemical compounds have a property called “acidity,” a function of its hydogen ion activity. When this number increases, regardless of the compound’s pH, the compound is said to be “acidifying.” Our ocean’s has increased by 30%.[/quote]

      Do you mean “decrease”? An “increase” means the solution has become more alkaline. And yes, there IS a difference–an alkaline solution cannot dissolve aragonite and other carbonates.

      Reply

    • Avatar

      Pat Obar

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      [quote name=”David Appell”]
      http://davidappell.blogspot.com/2012/07/yes-ocean-acidity-has-increased-by-30.html%5B/quote%5D

      PO “More blather from Appell! Please demonstrate “any” link of any ocean acidification to an increase in atmospheric CO2? Just another Climastrology lie!”

      DA “Of course there’s a link. But that wasn’t at all the point of my comment.”

      Nothing of your 2012 nonsense has anything tom do with increasing atmospheric CO2. Just another Climastrology lie!

      Reply

    • Avatar

      bill

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      “All chemical compounds have a property called ‘acidity,’ “

      Shirley, you’re not serious.

      Reply

    • Avatar

      David Appell

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      [quote name=”Pat Obar”][quote name=”David Appell”]All chemical compounds have a property called “acidity,” a function of its hydogen ion activity. When this number increases, regardless of the compound’s pH, the compound is said to be “acidifying.” Our ocean’s has increased by 30%.[/quote]

      More blather from Appell! Please demonstrate “any” link of any ocean acidification to an increase in atmospheric CO2? Just another Climastrology lie![/quote]

      Of course there’s a link. But that wasn’t at all the point of my comment.

      Reply

    • Avatar

      Pat Obar

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      [quote name=”David Appell”]All chemical compounds have a property called “acidity,” a function of its hydogen ion activity. When this number increases, regardless of the compound’s pH, the compound is said to be “acidifying.” Our ocean’s has increased by 30%.[/quote]

      More blather from Appell! Please demonstrate “any” link of any ocean acidification to an increase in atmospheric CO2? Just another Climastrology lie!

      Reply

    • Avatar

      David Appell

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      All chemical compounds have a property called “acidity,” a function of its hydogen ion activity. When this number increases, regardless of the compound’s pH, the compound is said to be “acidifying.” Our ocean’s has increased by 30%.

      Reply

    • Avatar

      Windy

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      I test this theory with champagne quite often.

      Reply

    • Avatar

      david russell

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      Correction to the above, the 1 part to 50B in the introduction is actually 1 part in 107B as is shown in the argument.

      Reply

    • Avatar

      david russell

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      AGW CO2 cannot produce any meaningful ocean acidification

      Introduction
      The claim is made that AGW CO2 emissions are acidifying the oceans, which may have adverse impact on marine life. Specifically the claim is that due to AGW ocean ph has dropped 30% (a .1 increase in acidity on the ph scale). The below argues annual CO2 related ocean acidification is on the order of 1 part per 50 billion – less than a drop of acid in a swimming pool 4M x 20M x 2M…. actually you’d need 17 such pools!!!
      Pure CO2 is not acidic – there’s no hydrogen in CO2 and as those who remember high school chemistry know, acidity is a function of hydrogen ions. However in water ~1 in 1000 CO2 molecules becomes the weak acid 2HCO3 (carbonic acid). Ocean acidification from AGW thus is an artifact of this carbonic acid. If this carbonic acid were well-mixed in oceans, it would be 1 part in 50 billion.

      The case:

      The ratio of carbonic acid created from CO2 introduced into a liquid is called its hydration equilibrium constant, which for sea water under standard conditions is 1.2 x 10-3. That is, for 1,000 CO2 molecules entering the ocean from AGW, 1.2 will become carbonic acid under standard conditions.
      Human CO2 emissions in 2013 were 36 gigatons, 25% of which were [considered] absorbed into the oceans, or 9 gigatons. Now if only 1.2 molecules in 1000 becomes carbonic acid, that’s 9X1.2/1000= 10.8 megatons of carbon dioxide molecules in the ocean from AGW that get converted into carbonic acid per annum. CO2 is about 2/3 the mass of carbonic acid, so the 10.8 megatons of CO2 becomes 10.8X3/2 =16.2 megatons of carbonic acid…. introduced over 139mm square miles of ocean. Per square mile that’s about .1165 ton. A cubic mile of sea-water weighs 4.718B tons and as the oceans’ average depth is about 14,000’ or 2-2/3 miles, 12.509B tons of seawater is beneath each square mile of ocean surface on average. We know that ph varies in different parts of the ocean, but let’s hold this fact in abeyance until the end. And let’s ignore the non-standard conditions generally in the oceans. Each square mile of CO2 entering the ocean then is going to dilute the 2-2/3 cubic mile of ocean below it. The .1165 ton of carbonic acid per square mile if mixed with 10B tons of sea-water beneath it results in 1 part per 12.5B/.1165, or 1 part per 107 billion carbonic acid annually from AGW sourced CO2 into the oceans. Adding 1 part of even a strong acid to 107B parts pure sea water results in….no measurable increase in ocean acidity, even if you do this annually for the 5-10 decades or so of heavy AGW.
      Now maybe the oceans ARE getting more acidic. Maybe it’s from something other than human CO2 emissions. Still,…
      IF the oceans are acidifying, it can’t be the result of added carbonic acid from AGW. Q.E.D.

      Reply

    • Avatar

      Philip Foster

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      The key to buffering of ocean pH is in the chemistry of CaCO3. (limestone coral etc.)
      CaCO3 is very insoluble in water but is present in suspension, on ocean floors etc as ‘sludge’ or just as rocks in general.

      BUT
      when attacked by ‘carbonic acid’ – ie CO2 dissolved in water – it reacts to form Ca(HCO3)2 calcium bicarbonate or as it is also called Calcium Hydrogen Carbonate.
      This is relatively soluble in water and is ALKALINE in solution being the product of a strong base Ca(OH)2 and a weak acid H2CO3 (carbonic acid). The more CO2 that dissoves in sea water the more alkaline it tends to become.

      Hence Prof. Plimer’s statement: “The oceans can only become acidic if the earth runs out of rocks!”

      Further, as there are liquid pools of pure CO2 in deep ocean trenches where the pressures and cold temperatures are sufficient to liquify CO2, the oceans are always effectively saturated in CO2.

      Reply

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      Joseph A Olson

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      The oceans are at maximum saturation of multiple gases, byproducts of Earth’s fission and discharged at sea floor vents that are below the P-V-T point for liquefaction. Ocean currents then lift these saturated gases to points in the water column where the temperature and pressure allow outgassing, which accounts for the bubbles at every depth. Without these gases from the ocean floor, these bodies would be lifeless. See “Earth’s Missing Geothermal Flux” at the Faux science Slayer website.

      The ocean basin is lined with Calcium Carbonate rocks which would dissolve to maintain the alkaline pH, regardless of the minor effect of Carbonic Acid. Ocean acidification is yet another, grant and agenda driven faux science in need of slaying.

      Reply

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      John Marshall

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      pH of 7.0 is neutral and a fall below this is acidic. Ocean pH varies on many factors but the figures pH 7.6-8.3 covers it. All inside that bracket is alkali. Increased atmospheric CO2 levels and a cold ocean gives high primary production using the CO2 to photosynthesise or form skeletal material, depending on type of organism.
      fossil evidence shows that at times of high atmospheric CO2 content corals thrived. Corals depend on primary production for food.

      Reply

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